Life, in general, emphasizes that what is standard rules. Go outside of standard at your own risk. And yet that is what I have done many times in my own life. What is not standard became more or less my standard. At a time when it was odd, I got married in my senior year of college instead of after graduation. I was moved by the logic of Zero Population Growth and my experience as a social worker with foster children to choose adoption over creating a baby. In the short-lived experiment in the 1970s of allowing white parents to adopt black foster children, we became a mixed-racial family. A decade later, Meryl Streep as Mrs. Cramer in the groundbreaking movie, "Cramer vs. Cramer," and I were among the very small minority of American women who divorced and left their children with their fathers.
I certainly didn't match the average world traveler that wandered the planet for almost two decades. I was solidly middle-aged and rather poor with a pack on my back when I made my own challenges and learned how to face them within a variety of cultures, especially in Asia. I wasn't an explorer who discovered places for the first time (although I was the first foreigner that some Chinese villagers had ever seen), but neither was I following well-trodden paths. I learned that I could avoid crowds by not following the crowd. In my own style, I thrived even in cultures where following the standard way was considered the only, the most important, the best way to live.
Now I live in a retirement community. I buck the tide by not making medical care my major concern. I don't take the standard medications and standard tests that the majority of seniors take. And I get my 8 hours of sleep at a very non-standard time.
Yes, there are risks. And there are losses that accompany not adhering to the standard. I don't have enough money to be considered eccentric. And I'm not quite strange enough to be considered crazy. I am, well, odd.
I feel a certain kinship to people like Izhar Gafni of Israel who has invented a 95% cardboard and 100% recyclable bicycle. People told him it couldn't be done. It is cheap. It is light. It is practical. It is odd. But it works well.
Visit http://www.zimatravels.com and Follow the Senior Hummingbird as she wanders, wonders, and writes.
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