I've been thinking about my affection for the wrong people that I've had all my life. The other day I defined the right people as the people with more money than needed for comfort, and status. I mentioned the mountain people are the wrong people, and then there are the people that don't fit in anywhere, outsiders, some by a nerdiness they can't pretend out of, or by intent, not wanting to play the hierarchy game of money and status. I think both apply in my case, morally unable, and unwilling to play the game. I think of Colin Wilson's book, the Outsider, written when he was eighteen. It rang a chord inside at a young age. I read it again some years later and loved it more than before. Now is a good time to read it again. It is one of the books of my life, like Camus, The Stranger, that coincided with a turning point, the poems of Robinson Jeffers another. I came out of high school wanting to be an insider, climb the ladder, wear expensive clothes. I wasn't long learning I wanted nothing to do with it, took to reading and found an interest in good writing, worked in a bookstore in the time before mall bookstores.
In American television society, just the act of reading a book makes one an outsider. If not because other people take one for an outsider, but minds of readers develop quite differently from how the minds develop of people who watch tv. There comes a time the bridge is out between the two. Hence, the outsider. To take an interest in an art form, visual, music, words, automatically makes one an outsider. To pursue an interest beyond hobby is outsider behavior. Plenty of people live outside the game of honoring status and the show of money. Remembering one of the guidelines of my life from the only man I've known I call wise without hesitation, Jr Maxwell, "Stay away from important people." It is a good code to live by. I already practiced it in my own way without having it condensed into so concise a maxim. It stuck with me like another of his sayings, "Don't believe what you think." Jr, too, was an outsider, a bluegrass banjo picker, farmer, welder, sawmill operator, bulldozer operator, pronounced bull-noser, tractor mechanic. He would preface one of these sayings and others, "Like the old feller said...."
One of my favorite outsider friends comes to mind strongly, Sarah. I've known her since she was not long out of high school, a wide-awake young woman, alive, living from the heart like Sara Carter sang from the heart. She was too complex a soul to lock down in any one way of life. She needed experiences of a great variety. She dove into everything she was involved in head first and learned to swim. Like in a Bob Marley song, all her cards are on the table. In that time she drove a powerful Chevy race car and knew how to drive it. I was struck by her wits, her sense of humor, her intelligence, especially her ability to have her own thoughts and honor them as such. In her group of peers, she ran with the outsiders, she appeared to me a light. Every time I see Sarah, I see a light. Even when she's down and out, her light sustains her and returns. I recall seeing her a time or two when her light was dim, exhausted, though I intuited the Sarah I knew would return in her own time, on her own terms.
She seems to me a woman of a powerful soul. She doesn't receive defeat. It's not in her dictionary. She's been broken and shattered, pulled the pieces together, reconstructed herself with porcelain glue and carried on. She's been put out with the trash, walked over, used, abused, abandoned, scorned. Sarah has kept going with the healing power of love. Sarah knows what real love is, doesn't settle for half-love or three-quarters love. She's wide-open who she is, a Twin Oaks Sexton-Higgins on the physical plane. Sarah has seemed to me the whole time I've known her, at least thirty years, an advanced soul who chose the fast lane of spiritual progress, the path of suffering. Like Jr Maxwell once said of himself, "I been through it and come out the other end." This is how I feel about Sarah in this phase of her life. She's been through it and come out the other end. It seemed to me her relationships, before, drained her energy. She has a nourishing relationship now, someone she can live in love with who knows her, honors who she is, is gentle with her doll parts, loves her the only way she wants to be loved, for herself, for who she is. Last time I saw Sarah was in the Food Lion parking lot. She's another of my hillbilly friends I value the highest, grateful she's in my world.
tom wesselmann himself