As an Oregonian who spent several years living in Portlandia, I feel the city’s unofficial mantra “Keep Portland Weird” is a noble pursuit. The world needs weird. Not the Donald Trump kind of weird, which is like a Stephen-King-horror-novel-with-a-terrifying-evil-clown-kind-of-weird.
No, I’m talking about a less volatile, better coiffed and more enjoyable kind of weirdness that helps us keep a fresh perspective on daily life.
Albert Einstein, Edgar Alan Poe, Leonardo da Vinci, Lucille Ball — all were geniuses in their own way who reminded us to see the world with wonderment by unapologetically pursuing their weirdness.
I’m no genius. I’m reminded of this every time I spend 5 minutes getting frustrated with the TV remote, then realize it’s the garage door opener — usually after the neighbor calls to tell me our Labrador is repeatedly being knocked unconscious. Though I’m no genius, I do consider myself weird. And so do others. Particularly my teenagers, who avoid eye contact whenever we’re in public because they’re afraid I’ll do something weird that will embarrass them.
Or as they jokingly say, “DESTROY OUR LIVES!”
Ok, maybe they’re not joking.
The truth is, though they may feel being in the car with Dad while he orders Taco Bell in an Arnold Schwarzenegger voice could have a lasting impact on their reputations — or at the very least completely screw up our dinner order — I believe the example of infusing random acts of weirdness into daily life is an important one. That’s because being weird requires looking at a common situation in an uncommon way. As a parent, there are few skills I want my children to develop that are more important than the ability to think unconventionally. It’s that type of thinking that leads to technological breakthroughs, builds self confidence and develops problem-solving skills.
Not counting me and my TV remote, of course.
Being able to tap into your weirdness can also help keep things in perspective when life gives you lemons. Or melons, for those of you with dyslexia. Being able to wield weirdness is like having Thor’s hammer to smash negativity and the mundane. Although if you think you’re going to look as cool doing it, you’re kidding yourself. Regardless, it’s an effective way of turning a bad situation into a better situation; an unfortunate circumstance into a laughable moment; Kanye West into… another laughable moment.
You get the idea.
The world is getting more plugged in and, coincidentally, more stressed out. Weirdness is a necessary coping mechanism that benfits everyone. So please do the responsible thing by embracing your weirdness. Or even someone else’s.
But if they’re a naked bike rider, you might want to make sure they put some pants on first.