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Be a Dropout!
When you hear the word, dropout, what comes to mind? Loser? Quitter? Deadbeat? Do you notice how judgmental these words are? There are some other synonyms in the Book of Roget (Thesaurus) that are not quite as damning (non-conformist, beatnik, free spirit), but I believe most of us were raised to have a negative view of dropouts. And yet this incomplete list of famous dropouts is impressive: Tom Hanks, Carol Burnett, Bill Gates, Maya Angelou, Mark Zuckerberg, Ellen DeGeneres, James Cameron, Ruth Handler (Mattel and Barbie) Buckminster Fuller and Lady Gaga.
Fear not! This is not a campaign to argue for dropping out of high school or college; the value of an education cannot be minimized. However, there is some deep wisdom in the saying, "different strokes for different folks" and some people get a far better education through less conventional means. Some square pegs really do not fit into round holes! Is adherence to convention sucking the joy right out of us? And if it is, can we join the above list of talented individuals and make choices less likely to squelch our vitality?
I thought about this when a friend of mine recently described himself as an "e-mail dropout." I was not sure if he felt apologetic about it but I actually celebrated his decision. I have no doubt that his temporary absence from his friends' e-mail inbox will translate some day into rich gifts, both tangible and intangible, for others. Another friend told me about cleaning out some old files and locating a folder dating back several years that said "Urgent" on it. He opened the file and realized it was not the least bit urgent, now.
If we are to consider any kind of dropout choice, we may have to take a lesson from this discovery. Is everything we see as so darned urgent really that urgent? Probably not. The hard part is attempting to discern what practices, choices or lifestyles we can drop out from without negative consequences. Or perhaps if we could interview each of the dropouts listed above, we might learn that fear of negative consequences had to take less precedence over some sought freedom. I am reminded of the video about a whale named Valentina who expressed such joy once she was set free from entanglement in a fishing net. What are the nets that bind us? And what might it feel like to dropout and be free of just one of them? You, too, could be an e-mail or social-networking or television-watching dropout! Is some untapped joy awaiting you?
What Will People Think?
People may judge or misunderstand you. They may be threatened by the choices you make especially if those choices run counter to conventional choices they have made. Is it not more important to consider what you think about the path you take? Is it not more important that your joy be a top priority to you? As for what other people think or say, try repeating these two words each time you get tripped up: SO WHAT!
Inspiration from Carol Burnett
“Only I can change my life;
no one can do it for me.”
“Humor is tragedy plus time.”
So even if you make a dropout choice that ends up being a tragedy, you might be laughing some day. Go ahead, give yourself a Valentine and drop out if you need to!
Your February 2014 Prompts for Joy
Click here to see how solo kitties cope with Valentine’s Day.
Click here for a fabulous dance interpretation of Bob Marley’s song, “Is This Love.”
Many thanks to Patrice Catanio and Nancy Paez for this month’s Prompts for Joy.
Joy-Gram for February 2014
In addition to the short mantra of "So What," remind yourself of Deepak Chopra's words: "What other people think of you is not your business. If you start to make that business your business, you will be offended for the rest of your life." Print these words out on a blank piece of paper and carry them around with you if needed!
Cats are great models for dropping out. This is Smarty Jones, who exudes the spirit of "so what!" quite frequently.
By no means
do I have joy “figured out.” Please do not assume
that I do! I write Out On a Limb as much as a meditation for
myself in the ongoing pursuit of joy, as for you. I think this
pursuit is a lifelong journey and that the full experience
of joy is, at best, episodic. May we all have more episodes!
Martha Clark Scala, MFT · 721 Colorado Ave., Suite 201, Palo Alto, CA 94303 ·