I had a lovely comment on my last post from Orbital. The comment made me sit up and take notice because it was about one of my favourite topics, nail varnish. I will leave you to read the comment yourself rather than try to do it rough justice in a paraphrase.
I was of course flattered to be thought of in the midst of a film being projected literally on the other side of the world but that wasn’t what grabbed my attention. What did was the idea that someone wishing to try a little harmless decoration of the body should – no doubt for very good reasons – have to stop and think about it. On the other hand, the very fact that we do have to stop and think about it makes the adventure that much more fun once we take the plunge.
There are parts of the world where being different is regarded as so serious a transgression that it can literally cost you your life. In what are called the liberal democracies we still have considerable freedom to choose our own lifestyle and dress. The British in particular love to gripe and moan about things (no wonder Australians call us “whingeing Poms”, a name that I think we fully deserve) and spend so much time on this and expend so much energy on it that we are wont to forget the other side of the coin, the side that bears the badge of freedom, a freedom that is worth fighting for at any time but especially in these uncertain times.
That is not to say that we live in a harmonious community in which anything goes and no one criticizes anyone else. On the contrary, there is a lot of criticism about and people often feel shy about doing things that are quite harmless but will attract notice and unfavourable comments from others. Such censure may seem a bad thing but there is in fact a good side to it. The young, after all, need to rebel and what’s the fun in rebelling if no one criticises you for it? Next time you see a Goth, EMO or hoodie be sure to express your disapproval so as to make their day. They will be disappointed if you don’t1.
And of course, when I say “the young”, I don’t just mean the young young, I mean the young of all ages. Some of the best youthful rebellions occur after the age of 50 or even later. It’s never too late to cock a snook at convention and at that part of society that is dead from the neck up.
But cocking a snook, fun as it always is, is not the real point of straying beyond the boundaries of convention. The point of doing it is for the sense of adventure, for the fun and for the effect that it has on you yourself. You suddenly see yourself in a new light and this is exhilarating. Suddenly the horizon expands and you see possibilities you did not see (or didn’t dare to see) before. A new world appears before you waiting to be explored. Be warned: it can be addictive!
1I am not being entirely serious here, of course.