March 7th, 2022
People who belong uphold the status quo, both because it benefits them and because they can’t imagine any other way; the outsiders are the ones who push us ever forward.
I often find the universe giving me simultaneous, overlapping examples of something I need to learn or remember, because I am a slow learner and sometimes it needs to be obvious.
This weekend, I just happened to watch Jane, a documentary about Jane Goodall, and I finished Fear of a Black Universe, a book by physicist Stephon Alexander.
Both are examples of the outsider as proof of expansion, and both offer other examples and inspire you to realize your own.
Jane Goodall did more to advance our knowledge of primates, and their connection to humanity, than any other person had done prior. Jane Goodall was not a scientist when she was sent to the jungle; she was a 26-year-old secretary who had a passion for animals.
She was chosen because she was an outsider to the scientific community, and the person who picked her was wise enough to know that was valuable.
Stephon Alexander, however, is a scientist. But because he is Black and also has ideas that exist on the fringes of acceptable scientific behavior, he, too, is an outsider; he’s “deviant by default,” using his own words.
I’ve read a lot of books on science, and Fear of a Black Universe is easily the most challenging I have ever encountered.
These two people couldn’t seem more different, but it’s the idea of the outsider that connects them and resonates with me long after the last page is turned.
I have no business being anything.
I certainly have no business being a writer or artist. I barely went to college. I wasn’t born into connections, and the ones I have now I had to go out and get. I learn some rules and then ignore them and then make up some of my own.
But, as I have to convince myself every time I consider quitting writing altogether, that is exactly why the writing world needs me.
I bring stuff to this thing that others won’t, simply because they know better, and I don’t.
And that’s how we become better.
I have no business being anything. And maybe you feel like that, too. But I guarantee that, if you feel like an outsider, then that means you bring a perspective to whatever it is you do that most others just don’t have.
And if you’re on the inside? (Lucky you.) You could change the entire game by just letting an outsider in.