For nearly two years I have been going to a writing class at a senior center. The majority of students in my class are over the age of 65 and a few are 90 years young. The majority of them are writing their life story to pass along to their family, but there are a couple women who write fiction. I call it mystery, creepy fiction. The interesting thing is, both of them are retired nurses.
I’m taking the class because I’m writing a self-help/memoir about my cancer journey. Each week I turn in something to my teacher that might end up in the book. She corrects my grammar and my classmates give me feedback. I am so lucky to have found these people. They come from all walks of life and of course different life experiences, so I get a lot of suggestions how to make my book better. Many of the students have been coming nearly 15 years and are avid readers.
A new student joined our group a couple of months ago. He is a retired prison chaplain. He is a black male, about 70 years old from Mississippi. He writes fictional stories based on his experiences counseling prisoners and living in the south. Since he is a chaplain, it makes sense that all his stories reflect his belief in God, but he doesn’t write to convert anyone. He is just telling a story.
Last week our teacher asked us where we go to write. The actual topic that day was “Overcoming Writer’s Block.” The preacher raised his hand and said, “I go to a coffee shop close to where I live. I get my inspiration from some of the customers who are there, especially if it’s someone weird.”
What caught my attention was the word weird. I pretty much tuned out the rest of what he was saying and began thinking about the meaning of that word. Exactly what does weird mean? What is considered weird? Who decides what is weird?
Today, I was still thinking about it and looked at online dictionaries to find out what they had to say. Many of them said it relates to an occult. Something supernatural. Merriam-Webster’s full definition is:
of, relating to, or caused by witchcraft or the supernatural : magical ; of strange or extraordinary character.
The Urban Dictionary, which is not a formal dictionary by any means because people like you and me can throw in our two-cents as to what we think that word means. They define weird as: Interesting or strange; out of the ordinary… and my favorite; another synonym for awesome.
One of the commenters who goes by the online name of Fishbap and Cheese wrote; First off no one can really say something is weird because one’s own personal definition of weird could be totally different from someone else. Someone who is called “weird” by their peers in one place, might be called a conformist somewhere else, so really the terms “weird” and “normal” are nothing more than words to describe someone or something different from themselves.
Batwoman la Sarah wrote; A word used by many people who is usually meant to be negative. If someone calls you weird it’s usually because you’re saying something or acting different from another person would. People don’t know how to handle this so than they just respond by saying “You’re so weird!!!!”
In what context was the preacher using the word weird? Since I didn’t ask, I don’t know.
When I say someone is weird, it is not a compliment. It’s a negative judgment. Actually everything we think is based on a judgment, whether its good or bad. I can think That person looks weird or that person looks interesting . Either way it’s my perspective of how I choose to see that person. Maybe it has to do with us being visual creatures. Judging someone by the way they look though, can get us into a lot of trouble. There are plenty of people who wear nice clothes who are dishonest. You cannot judge a book, by it’s cover.
According to A Guide to Buddhism A-Z:
Making judgments about the people we come into contact with is usually done within the privacy of our own minds. However, it will influence how we think about them – whether with respect or contempt, trust or suspicion, like, dislike or indifference. And, of course, the opinion we form about them from our judgments will in turn influence how we treat them. This being the case, we should be careful in making judgments about others, particularly critical ones.
My son is covered in tattoos. He moved to central California a couple years ago from the Bay Area. He still gets strange looks when he is in public because it’s a small town environment. There aren’t many people walking around with visible tattoos, so he could be considered weird. When he lived in Berkeley, no one noticed. Tattoos are more common there.
When I was in college, I took a class on the Great Religions. I decided to spend the day at the Hara Krishna Temple in Berkeley and write about my experience. I chose the Hara Krishna’s because they were always a mystery to me; dancing and chanting, wearing white robes with shaved heads. They seemed silly. Some call them a cult. What I found out was, they may look weird to us in the United States, but in India, they are a respected religion. According to Wikipedia,The Hare Krishna mantra, also referred to reverentially as the Maha Mantra (“Great Mantra”), is a 16 word Vaishnava mantra, which is mentioned in the Kali-Santarana Upanishad. In the15th century it rose to importance in the Bhakti movement, following the teachings of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu.
I was working as a waitress in a coffee shop in San Francisco, when one morning a priest from the Catholic Church across the street, stopped in for coffee. He was agitated. He had just had a conversation with some Buddhist monks visiting from another country, who stopped in to see the inside of the church. They thought they were having a nice conversation with a priest and he was thinking they belonged to a satanic cult. In his perspective, they weren’t just weird — they were evil. How many people believe that any religion other than their own is weird or evil? A lot of problems in the world are started because of that judgment.
Weird is purely subjective. The picture of me and my Chihuahua, Olive (she has since crossed the Rainbow Bridge) might look weird to some. We actually had matching leopard coats and went out in public wearing them. Sometimes we got some strange looks, but for the most part, people got a kick out of us.
I still like dressing in what I consider fun outfits. I don’t care about fashion trends. I wear what I like. Some may think that’s weird. I know I dress differently than most women my age and that’s ok. If someone calls me weird, I will take it as a compliment because what they are really saying is, I’m awesome!