I have spent the majority of my life on the outside without giving any real thought to it. I see the lines that are so clearly defined by society, but they are always in front of me. Rarely, have I ever been able to look back to see I am within the standards set by society. This has given me a great sense of freedom but also a great deal of challenges. In my experience, the more time you spend on the fringe, the more difficult it is to adhere to any kind of formalized structure. And I truly believe I was born on the outside.
Was it my fate to be born in one country and live most of my life in another? Would this give me the strength I need in order to do the things I want in life? I absolutely think so. I was incredibly lucky to have the chance to be born in a country whose culture gave birth to my passion, my fire, my colorfulness, and my morbidity. But the great stroke of luck in my life is that I was raised in a culture that gave birth to my individuality, my liberty, and my freedom. The combination of characteristics that I acquired from my upbringing pretty much guaranteed I would be a horse of a different color, nothing anyone would expect.
Outsiders get many labels. They are called immigrants, hippies, travelers, climbers, bikers, Hell’s angels, yogis, foreigners, etc. But what do all these labels have in common? They are all living their dreams and following their passion without letting fear win. And if you are an outsider, chances are you fit in at least one of these categories. In my case, I fit into many. I started as an immigrant, became a traveler, and evolved into a yogi. It was this label that there was no going back from. As soon as I crossed the threshold to being a dedicated yoga practitioner, my outsider existence became cemented. It was cemented, so much so that I chose to have the ultimate outsider experience and move to a foreign country with basically no diversity AND a diversion to anything that sticks out. I have written in previous posts of the stress and hardships of living in a culture like this, but I am choosing now to write about what this experience has given me, which is so much more than it has taken from me.
I was born in the middle of mountains, but in a HUGE city, where I never saw grass let alone stars or anything that resembled nature. We would often go outside of Mexico City to ride horses in the mountains and spend time in the gorgeous scenery. I absolutely LOVED these trips. But, at a very young age I moved to Florida where nature took an entirely different form. In Florida, spending time outside became synonymous with water. I would spend time by lakes and the ocean. My only mountain experiences would come from traveling either to different places or returning to Mexico. As much as the water cleanses me, it is really the mountains that call to my heart. And as fate would have it, I was placed in a prefecture with the word “mountain” in it.
Mountains in Japan are different from anything I have previously experienced. I have been to many places around the world, but the beauty that surrounds the Japanese country side is truly a sight to see. The pull the mountains have is extremely strong. Spending every day surrounded by them, I hear them calling me. But it wasn’t until earlier this year that I started to answer. Being a metaphorical outsider for my entire life, I have always enjoyed being physically outside as well. What I find is that for an outsider, being outside is actually paramount to our existence. I must say, that I think being in nature is good for everyone, but for those of us living in the fringe, it is soul food.
In nature, you remember who you are. Nature doesn’t allow you to hide or fake anything. I spend most weekends out on mountain bike trails or climbing boulders. Both activities bring me immense joy, but it is because they both also bring me immense fear. The same fears I have faced from living a life on the edge of society become much more simplified in the great outdoors. The fears make way to mantras of “don’t fall” and “don’t crash”. And as much as I would like to avoid either of those things from happening, they are both inevitable. It is natural, just as I will fall and crash in life. And it is after these things happen that great progress is made.
Living as an outsider you realize that failure is needed, and needed often to move forward. It is quitting that will ruin your life. Living on the outside, I have always avoided commitment. But being outdoors requires a level of commitment to survive. So, out of necessity nature has taught me how to commit to a certain extent. Nature has taught me that certain risks are worth the rewards. You must play big if you really want to get what you want. It doesn’t always work out right away, but you don’t regret that you tried. The feeling of being on top of the rock will always be worth it.
If you are going to live on the outside, you have to be able to take big risks. You have to be willing to fail. You have to commit to the dreams you have. If you can do these things, you can make your way on a marvelous adventure. There are no rules to this game. Anyone can be an outsider, but it is definitely an inside job. Let go of expectations and fears, and accept that you can write your own destiny. Then, when you are old and gray and completely exhausted you can look back on the map of your life and see that you lived an adventure outside of the lines; a life full of courage and love.