“Have you ever seen an animal shrug?”
So perhaps I’ve been on a bit of a psychedelic kick lately, and what better author to regale myself with than the iconic Tom Wolfe. Here’s a little interesting factoid about the little blonde girl – my dad recommended me to read the book Electric Kool-Aid Acid test. Not ever really thinking of my dad as a “reading” sort of guy, I knew there had to be something special about this book. Of course, my dad was always my hero, reading or not, so when I read the book it was more than just a friendly suggestion, I knew there was something that I needed to extricate from this book that would help me as an adult.
I read that book twice, a little baffled at the concept of a bunch of crazy moon bats living out of a bus. There were several entertaining anecdotes, there were several parts that I just skipped over, but I at least gave it the time of day. My dad asked me how I liked the book, and at the time I just sort of said “Eh, it was weird”. I was still trying to understand why the hell this book was suggested, of all the classics out there, to read as an impressionable teenager. The ripe age of fourteen and the book you’re recommended to read is about drug addled hippies living the free love lifestyle and becoming transcendental to the outside world.
It wasn’t until a few months ago that I got up the courage to ask my dad why the heck, from all the books in the world, did he think that was the one I needed at that time of my life. The awkward, evolving teenage years with raging teenage hormones of dealing with being an overweight, not very attractive, parents recently divorced girl growing up in Wisconsin. The response I got wasn’t exactly as straight and direct as I thought it was going to be.
“What is the book about?”
My response “a bunch of weirdos”
“Yeah, but what made them weird?”
My response “They acted weird.”
“No, they acted different. The only reason they seemed weird is because they weren’t acting “normal”. You’re not normal.”
…I thought about it a minute…he was right…
“If you really read that book and looked passed the drugs and free love, you’d realize that those people decided to do their own thing. You have to do your own thing otherwise you’ll never be happy.”
It was a blow to the gut, but it was true.
I’ve had a habit of every single time I read a book, or hell, even an article, I’ll jot notes in a book (I’m up to two now) of pertinent things that I think will help me on my way – the first time I read that book, one of the very first quotes that I had written in my little book was:
“I’d rather be a lightning rod than a seismograph”
(from the Kool-Aid Test)
It taught me a lot about who I wanted to be when I grew up (keep in mind this was about 17 years ago). I knew that I wasn’t going to be happy with the superficial life. The external happiness that so many people strive for doesn’t exactly do it for me. The concept of a big house, fancy car, and a dog that doesn’t suit me right now. Hell, I’m happy getting breakfast most mornings…but actually, that’s how I’ve been my entire life – grateful. In the great scheme of things, I don’t think lightning rods really care that they get struck by lightning, it’s their damn job. Get it over with, a seismograph, however, has to forgo a bunch of damn shaking and instability, which I’m not cool with. The same thing was depicted in the book – odd equals unhappy.
Back to the book, back to how it could possibly make you a happier person, back to the words of wisdom that my dad was trying to purvey through an obscure book – be your own damn person. There is a world of people out there who are destined to tell you that you’re doing everything wrong, but why? Simply put, in the arena of psychology ,philosophy, an d pancakes you realize that there isn’t a single other person in the world that will see things through your eyes.
You might convince them to see it your way, but at the same time, the labor that it took to make them come around wasn’t really necessary. Why do we need to feel like we’re “someone” or “part of something” or hell, a pretty picture on the damn internet. The more I thought about it, the more I started turning the finger around and pointing at my own damn self. Who was I really trying to be, and why couldn’t I be it in the first place?
“It’s the toe, kick, pain, mentality. Kick something, hurt your toe, then blame the thing you kicked.”
-me, about three years ago
Also…I asked my dad “are you a Rolling Stones or Beatles sort of guy”…the response was “well, whatever the hell I want to listen to. I’m not made of a jello mold. They both suck if you’re not in the mood”.
Thus, this song kills me….
“No direction home, like a complete unknown, like a rolling stone.”
-oddly enough, the only version of this song I like is the Hendrix version – but you’d have to be a nerd to know the difference…which I’ll go into some other day – – –
You can’t be a jello mold of life, and honestly, looking over my last stint as an adult, I never really got it. I’m responsible, I brush my teeth and hair, I upkeep a household, I keep a job which I love, but at the same time, I’m still a damn rolling stone, which brings me back to the book, The Kool Aid Book, and my worldly beginnings as an adult. I thought life was going to be about paying bills, changing diapers and taxes – but what that book taught me, and what my dad was trying to instill in me is that life is what you make it.
“I wish that I knew what I knew now, when I was younger”