When I was a young man a great anger and non-conformity arose in music.
The Punk Revolution tried to break the system it had been contained by and reinvent music in one sweep. Bands had the temerity to sing about police brutality, state control, and the insidious practices of the Music business.
We marked ourselves out with ripped clothing held together with safety pins, as opposed to a nice Haris Tweed jacket, or with our hair (yes, I had some in those days!) spiked up with Sugar-water or all of our girlfriend’s can of hairspray rather, than a nice smart buzz cut.
Fashion had always been the fight against conformity.
Dress as a Hippy, or a New Romantic. Wear Two-tone Zoot Suits, be a Rocker or a Mod.
Perhaps you were into Disco, with its glittering boob-tubes?
Whatever the case, from the 60’s to the 80’s it was possible to have a pretty good guess at what a person was telling you about themselves, by the way they dressed.
When the Rave generation came along, the use of Club drugs became more prevalent, it’s difficult to decide if “Speed Garage” music was built on the proliferation of Speed the drug, or if The Rave scene owed everything to the burgeoning Ecstasy market.
Were you a Dope-head or a Coke-head? Drug preferences marked people’s lifestyle choices too.
Across culture from the 80’s to the turn of the century, young people defined themselves through clubbing, partying, shoe-gazing, or dressing in an Emo style..
It was still simple to classify us, buy finding the drug of choice, the Festival of Choice or again through our clothes again.
Latterly, people have begun changing themselves physically.
The Tattoo revolution being a perfect example. Clothing being an old-hat way to express yourself, let’s ramp up the level of commitment a notch further.
This is a statement of “who I am” carved right into my body!
My daughter is a Tattoo artist of note. I used to ask her what her latest projects were.
One day she told me about a friend who had had a Herring tattooed on the length of his shin. I enquired if her was a fisherman? She laughed at my daft notion and told me that it was just art. I rather cruelly replied “Ah yes, tattoo yourself interesting…”
That’s how it felt to me. Don’t get me wrong, as you probably know, I have two tattoos myself – an OM symbol and a Chinese character “Dao” or the path.
I had these done, long before my daughter took up the art.
They were my commitment to my journey of self-development and were only done after long periods of contemplation. They were “spiritual stamps” as opposed to art.
(Maybe I’m just kidding myself, perhaps I was Tattooing myself interesting too..but it didn’t feel that way. It felt that they held power and significance..)
When I had my first Tattoo done, it was in a shady back street shop in Streatham, South London. As the “Artist” got down to work, puncturing my skin with a needle, we talked about life and the spiritual journey. That’s when he said to me “I’m a recovering Heroin Addict” – that shook me.. all the tropes about needles in skin, and dirty needles flooded through my mind. I think he saw me flinch!
That aside, I was in a chair next to a boy, who looked about 12, a weedy young lad.
He was biting his hand to stop himself from screaming, and tears flooded down his cheeks.
He’d chosen to have a massive British Bulldog all over his tiny, skinny thigh..
I guess he was trying to cultivate the “hard man” look of the 1980’s – no doubt hoping to get into the major leagues of drug-dealing on his local council estate..
More recently, we have started to up the game again.
It’s not for me to discuss the rights and wrongs of gender politics, and how deeply it’s entwined into Social Media.
It’s only for me to comment here that rather than marking our bodies physically, with ink, the new territory for battle, is the very identity of our sexuality.
It’s clear that genetically people seem to be born into “the wrong body” from time to time – something that can be corrected to an extent these days.
The fluidity around gender is as confusing as the feeling each individual has during their lives.
It’s a multifaceted different conversation based on the millions of different physical and chemical make-ups there are in eight billion people.
I was told a story recently about a young eight year old boy, here in Bath, who came home and asked his parents if he would develop a Vagina before his ninth birthday?
Clearly, he’d misunderstood what was being taught to him. What hope do we old people have!?
It’s your choice to be identified as “they/them” if you wish.
The footer of people’s emails often list the pronouns they feel happiest with
Jeremy Colledge (He/Him)
I saw a recently knighted author quip “I’d like to identify as ‘Sir’ from now on..”
It interests me that so many people need a diagnosis these days.
When I was young, there were lots of odd and eccentric people knocking about our lives.
Everybody had an “eccentric” aunty or uncle. I remember being invited to stay at a friend’s house, but being warned not to “laugh at Grandpa” who used to wear Tea Cosies on his head, rather than a hat. (An eminently sensible way to keep one’s head warm I thought..)
It was odd however to see a handle and a spout cover, protruding from where his ears should be.. hey ho..
(The family had decided that if they couldn’t deter Grandpa, then they might as well celebrate him, so every birthday, he received a few new tea cosies to add to his collection.
When I met him, he was wearing a rather fetching hen on his head..)
For me the long line from Rock, to Punk, from ripped clothes to tattoos, from Heroin to Ecstasy, from normality to difference, leads and feeds directly into Gender Fluidity.
How on earth is one of eight billion supposed to stand out from the crowd.
Smoking used to mark you out as being cool, drinking as a bon vivant, dope as a friendly hippy, but something new was needed.
In order to be different, you need to be marked as neuro-divergent.
Essentially this is saying to the world at large, my brain functions in a different way to yours.
When I was young, we just accepted that people were different, we didn’t need a badge to tell us that. (It’s also fair to say that more often than not, we probably didn’t behave as well towards “different” people. That however is a matter for training and education in society at large, rather than a badge for an individual.)
There’s no question that billions of different chemical make-ups, in millions of different Epigenetic environments will produce many people (and always have) who feel differently about themselves.
Why shouldn’t they develop a new set of pronouns to define how they feel.
I would just say that from the Knights of the middle ages, through the court of Louis the Sun King, to the Flappers of the 20’s, to the Rockers of the 50’s and Punks of the 70’s to today’s gender bending ideas, that it’s always been about the Ego.
It’s always been about the desire to be different.
We’ve had many eras when conforming was the norm, and difference went punished, and just as many eras where difference is celebrated rather than pulled down.
This is just the Ego flipping back and forth.
We always seek to make our “own way” in the world.
We are always trying to carve out “our own” niche.
What happens when one builds a towering edifice and then discoveries that one’s taken the wrong path? What happens when you align yourself whole-heartedly with the Nazi party, honestly believing that although Hitler is a little too “fervent” for you, but that Germany is really improving?
What happens when you start telling all your friends what an amazing person Chairman Mao is, and that his new party will change everything for the better?
What happens when you finally discover that the person you were backing all the way has turned out to be a nut-job? When you finally discover that the person who’s ideals, you’d been espousing has turned out to be a mass-murderer and a child killer!? (Please don’t think I’m trying to lump Gender Politics in with these kind of extremes!)
There are so many historical examples of people being plunged into deep depression.
It’s no different these days. All the stories you have been sold, all the movements you have joined, so often seem to turnout to not be what you had hoped and believed..
On one side of the world, there are huge percentages of the population wondering how they ever fell for socialism and communism, whilst on the other side of the world, vast swarths of people look at Democracy as a failed experiment and wonder at the greed it’s engendered at the cost to the whole.
Straight or Gay, Man or Woman, Black or White, Republican or Democrat, Old or Young, we are all slowly awakening to the con.
When finally we spot it for what it is, we become disillusioned, disaffected and depressed.
Depression is really a sickness of the Ego, when you realise that you can no longer support the image of yourself that you have created, and that you can no longer carry it.
There’s only one cure for this disease, and that is to wake up from the illusion.
My colleague John and I had an interesting experience.
We decided to film a new exercise course, to teach online students how to do the BodyMind Form of Zhineng Qigong. John found a studio in Suffolk that was a gloriously painted WHITE box! Nothing but WHITE, white lights, curved white walls (so no corners) and white floors.
I’m sure it would be great for shooting your latest Mercedes car, or perhaps a stunning piece of couture.
For me it was frankly disorientating! Just white, everywhere, and very little to use as a point of reference. You’ll see in that video that when I did the “Standing on one leg” exercises I was wobbling everywhere!
It however also provided a great reference point for working with one of Mooji’s guided contemplations.
He says, “Imaging yourself in a white box” – (Tick! I can do that!)
“Put down all connections to your family, to your religion, to society, to your health or illness, to your children and loved ones…just for a moment imagine letting it all go”
I paraphrase, and do him no justice at all, but this is his premise, be in the space, let go of EVERYTHING that defines you as you.
When finally you divest yourself of everything, then what’s left?
It can only be your Trueself.. The most perfect version of you.
No time, no space, just a perfect pure you.
Then, answer these questions?
Does what’s left have any form? Does it have any boundary? Can it become depressed or addicted to anything? Can it be Ill? Can it take sides with anyone? Does it have any desires?
Can this pure you die? Was this pure you born? Can what we call Mind exist outside of this?
We find over time with this practice that being in the Trueself state lends an understanding to our “reality” – when you finally see “reality” for the illusion that it is, it’s easy then to conclude that one’s life could be created in a different way, and that illness need no longer be with us. We can reinvent the illusion to suit ourselves!
The biggest illnesses of the twenty first century are created by trying to support massive towering Egos that want to be heard! How do you think we got Social Media!?
Shout from the rooftops about how wonderful and different you are, but realise that the Truth of you is very different, and that what you are doing will come tumbling down one day..
Don’t worry, I’m here to catch you when you fall.
All my love,
P.s an honest note on my personal development.
I know what it is, I know where it is, and I know what I need to do to get there.
When the time is right, I’ll pull the trigger and get on with dissolving.
In the meantime, I visit this part of me regularly and rest in this state often.
I still feel I have one last project that needs resolving..then I’ll see you out in the Expanse!