I readily admit that I am anything but normal. I wasn’t normal even before I became mentally ill. One thing that definitely makes me abnormal is that I have to always ask questions. I just have to know why things work or don’t work the way that they do. I imagine in some aspects I’m the six year kid who asks ‘why’ to everything as a thirty eight year old adult. I found people were annoyed at me as a six year old when I kept asking questions and they are even more annoyed that as a man entering my middle aged years I still ask ‘why’ to everything.
I never understood why people got angry when I asked questions. When I don’t ask questions is when I don’t learn. When I don’t learn I make mistakes in my school work, my job, my relationships, my dating life, etc. And then people get angry because I didn’t ask questions. I think this is strange at best and mind numbingly stupid at worst. Do you want people to learn or not? If yes, then how are they supposed to learn if they aren’t free to ask questions? I guess that asking questions means you have ‘attitude problems’ or ‘don’t respect authority’ to some people. I don’t understand this.
I don’t even understand people who don’t question much of anything. Are they that compliant? Do they not have any sense of wonder or curiosity? And furthermore, why do such people feel a visceral need to condemn those of us who are asking questions and looking for ways to improve any and all things. I have never taken authority as unquestionable truth. And I never will at this point. I was always told ‘get with the program’ or ‘wait until you’re an adult’ or ‘wait until you hit the cold cruel world’ when I was asking “too many” questions or trying to ignore things that made no sense. Well, I am an adult who still isn’t with the program and I still ask questions and have a burning desire to learn. The cold and cruel world has hit me more than it has some people, and the only time I am not an optimist is when I’m in the deep grips of the illness. In short, I proved my critics and elders dead wrong. I didn’t make their mistakes. And I am a more interesting man and better conversation than they themselves could ever be. It’s because I didn’t quit asking. I didn’t quit seeking. I didn’t quit experimenting. I didn’t let my curiosity and sense of wonder be murdered by the short sighted demands and duties of adulthood. My soul didn’t die in a job I hated that I did just to pay rent and buy food. I didn’t become a bitter and angry old man because I had a few failed relationships and never got married. I didn’t start condemning the “damn kids” when I became a man. I remembered what it was like to be condemned as one of the “damn kids” as a teenager even though I was more ethical and had better morals than most of my elders and elected rulers. It sucked. I haven’t forgotten that even after all these years. I never will forget. I vowed when I was eighteen that I would never pull that on anyone.
I will continue to evolve and ask questions no matter how old I get. I refuse, flat out refuse, to be one of these bitter old codgers screaming at the kids on his lawn and pining for good old days that were quite lousy in many ways for many people. I don’t even see owning a lawn as an old man even if I do get rich. Jack Kerouac once said if you need to own a welcome mat, then you own too much. I don’t know if I’d go that extreme but I did like Brad Pitt in ‘Fight Club’ saying “The things you own eventually own you” and “once you’ve lost everything, you’re free to do anything.” I don’t know about that extreme either, but for my own personal experiences I have lost most of what modern society deems the hallmarks of decent living. I lost my career because of schizophrenia. I lost the chance to ever become rich because of mental illness. I lost most of my physical health because of schizophrenia. I lost the chance for marriage, relationships, sexual intimacy, children because mental illness made me impossible to live with. I even lost my ability to drive a car in high traffic areas because of mental illness. Most of my countrymen would think I am a complete loser just because of these measures and stats on paper. But, with mental illness and entering old age, I have learned that I don’t have to care what others think any more. As a result, I don’t care what others think. I don’t want to impress people. I don’t really care if I am liked. I don’t even care if people believe me anymore. I have found that usually when people think I’m lying the most is exactly when I’m telling the most truth. That, and I’m just ahead of the curve. I don’t care to stop asking why. Not now, not ever. I also no longer feel a visceral need to impress anyone. I will continue to ask why until I die. And I don’t care who likes or dislikes me in the process.