One must embrace the chaos within
to give birth to a dancing star.
-Nietzche
Call for a consultation (no obligation), US: 617-275-5706; UK: 0203 295-2051
Call for a consultation (no obligation),
US: 617-275-5706; UK: 0203 295-2051
Crucible of Misfits

Posted on Monday 8 August 2016

If you feel like a misfit … I believe there’s a good reason for that. If you are on this planet, there is a reason you are here. It may not be an easy journey.  But the crucible of misfits  – which to me is a journey of finding ones own voice – is one of the most valuable journeys we can take.  It matters both for us and those around us. It’s a journey that starts with understanding ourselves and our gifts.

 

What Does It Feel Like?

Have you ever felt like you were on the outside looking in?  Trying to figure the crucible of misfits?out how to connect with the inner circle, the heart of the community, those in the know? Or do you have a perspective or approach that, when you try to share it with other people, is met with confusion or, worse, bemused silence and/or changing of subject? Have you ever gone for therapy or some other form of personal development to try to figure out why you just don’t seem to belong in your community or worse, on this planet? Well, you are not alone.  In fact, some very talented people down the generations have shared your dilemma. I call their experience the crucible of misfits.

 

One Man's Experience

A musician crystalized this for me recently. He’s bringing a one-man show to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival (John Sheldon, The Red Guitar). His story is a story of passion for music.  Of strong values that had him questioning authority.  Of being diagnosed with mental health issues because he saw the world differently to other people around him.  Of emerging to play with some well-known artists (Van Morrison, James Taylor) before stepping back to find and explore his own voice and music.

Many artists, thought leaders, catalysts of one form or another have had a similar journey to finding their own voices, believing in themselves and their vision, then getting others to believe in them, too. Steve Jobs comes to mind, with his wonderful ad, here’s to the crazy ones.

It can be tempting for those of us who consider ourselves to be just 'normal' to think “yes, but that doesn’t apply to me”.

Doesn’t it?

 

What’s Lost, if We’re Lost

I work a lot with people around what makes them unique, and how to leverage that in the work they do.  I help these people take a self-reflective look inside, to understand themselves better.  To fill their empty places; to understand what they have to contribute to the world around them that is uniquely their own.

Yes, I’ve heard it said that we humans are 99.9% similar in terms of genetic make-up. But not only is new research showing that number to be lower than first thought. If we look at talent, abilities, and if we accept that within our differences lies our gifts, then our uniqueness – our gift, the voice that only we can bring to a conversation – is important no matter how similar we all are.

And it’s up to us to find a way to communicate what we see. It’s worth understanding, because only we can bring it. If we don’t, it will be lost. To me, choreographer Martha Graham, said it best:

There is a vitality, a life force, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and there is only one of you in all time. This expression is unique, and if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium; it will be lost. The world will not have it.

It is not your business to determine how good it is, nor how it compares with other expression. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open. You have to keep open and aware directly to the urges that motivate you. Keep the channel open.

No artist is pleased. There is no satisfaction whatever at any time. There is only a queer, divine dissatisfaction, a blessed unrest that keeps us marching and makes us more alive than the others.

For those of you for whom this resonates, I am going to share something with you that has given me great comfort over the years. If you have been in the crucible of misfits, may this give you some comfort, as it has me.

 

Her Dream

Her Dream began with winter darkness. Out of this darkness came a great hand – fisted. It was a man's hand.  Powerful and hallowed by shadows in the wells between bones and tendons.

The fist opened, and in the long plain of the palm lay three small pieces of coal.

Slowly the hand closed, causing within the fist a great pressure.

The pressure began to generate a white heat.  Still it increased.

There was a sense of weighing, crushing time. She seemed to feel the suffering of the coal with her own body – almost beyond the point of being borne.

At last she cried out to the hand, "Stop it! Will you never end it! Even a stone cannot bear to this limit...even a stone."

After what seemed like too long a time for anything molecular to endure, the torments in the fist relaxed.

The fist turned slowly, and very slowly opened.

Diamonds, three of them.

Three clear and brilliant diamonds, shot with light, lay in the good palm. A deep voice called to her,

"Deborah!"  Then gently, "Deborah, this will be you."

I don’t know the source of this – I found it in my sister’s journal after she died. If any of you out there does, I would be grateful to know.

 

Resources

You know you have powerful work to do in the world if this resonates with you.  It's work you don’t want to do unsupported.  It's work for which you will want to find your tribe, whatever that looks like.

If professional support would help, I’d be happy to explore with you whether I or someone I know might be a source of support in your journey. Email me and we’ll explore together how I might help you.  It may not be easy, but it will easily be the most important work you ever do.

 

Share Your Experience

If you liked this blogletter, if any of it resonated with you, please share your thoughts and experiences in the comments below.

  1.  
    Bennie
    August 10, 2016 | 6:21 am
     

    Hi Deborah, Thanks for a very well written article. Yes, it seems that the pressure is always there to fit in and that fitting in is much more highly valued than being uniquely one’s self. It reminds me of a story I heard a long time ago of a pre school teacher who called for children to join various designated animal groups, e.g. dolphins, eagles, etc. in an attempt to divide the class into groups. Only one child remained in the middle of the classroom, who did not go to any of the designated groups. When she was asked why she had not joined any of the groups yet, she said that she was waiting for the teacher to call the unicorns because that is what she is. Quite a brave thing to do when confronted by the pressure of fitting into one of the groups. This has been a journey for me as well and the journey continues. Enjoy your break. Regards, Bennie.

  2.  
    Jack McDaniel
    August 11, 2016 | 1:38 am
     

    Thank you Deborah. You have a real talent/skill for finding and sharing gems of wisdom that address, or is that undress, the great complexities of this mad speices of ours into simplicities that inspire. I had woken up from a tormenting dream world to read this last one and in the words “divine dissatisfaction” simply said yup, there it is. Time to get on with it. I call that inspiration of the most practical kind.
    Most grateful to you diamond Deb,
    Jack

  3.  
    August 11, 2016 | 6:31 am
     

    Thank you to you both – so rewarding to hear that sharing my own experience can be useful to others.

    Yes, fitting in has its place, but so do unicorns and divine dissatisfaction. Here’s to us humans expanding enough to be able to welcome all of it.

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