Jim here with another exciting edition of Weird Wednesday. You know, each time I say "weird," I don't always mean the same thing. Sometimes "weird" means odd or strange. Other times it means funny or ironic. It might also mean unusual or out-of-the-ordinary. Come to think of it, the definition of weird is also weird.
Today, I was thinking about an old friend, Jim Banholzer. He lived next door to Wendi and me when we first moved to the D.C. area in 1991. We all lived in a small "garden apartment" complex in Falls Church, Virginia. Our roommate at the time worked as a leasing agent there, which qualified us for a decent rental discount. I think we paid $800 or so for the place, an upscale 2-bedroom townhome close to the community pool. Jim lived next door with one of the more unstable people I've ever met (and, trust me, that's saying something).
Anyway, Jim was always into nature, philosophy, and the study of all things Idaho. I believe it was Mr. B. who first introduced me to Robert Bly and Robert Pirsig, the latter of which became a particularly long-lasting obsession of mine. Jim eventually left the hustle & bustle of D.C. to build a new life out West -- fresh air, sunshine, amazing birds, and potatoes the size of regulation NFL footballs.
For a while, we kept in touch. I'm pretty sure I saw his apartment on the cover of the National Enquirer at one point in the mid-1990s, a story I'm wondering if he ever blogged about. But then we lost touch for a good decade or maybe more. And then, recently, we bumped into each other online and have begun exchanging emails as though no time had passed at all. And that's weird in a good way!
Jim recently sent me a link to a fascinating article entitled "Thunderbird and Trickster."? Trickster refers to the Heyokas, or "sacred clowns" in Native American societies.These were rare individuals (yet also present in most tribes) who would, for example, ride into battle backwards, laugh during funerals, and behave in ways generally considered inappropriate or "contrary" to the accepted norms.
"You could become heyoka," according to the piece, "through a vision of the Thunderbird, or just of lightning or a formidable winged being of power." The article notes that, "[h]owever insulting or sacrilegious heyoka actions might be, they were tolerated, since it was assumed they were acting on the higher and more inscrutable imperatives of the Great Mystery."
Which brings me to the weirdness I'm considering today. I wonder if, speaking purely food-wise, there aren't multiple extreme paths toward this elusive Great Mystery. One could certainly view the raw food movement as "contrary." However, when banded together (as many raw foodists tend to do through social networking and various meet-ups), the "diet" becomes the norm -- which, arguably, could render the opposite "diet" (i.e. carnivorous) the heyoka perspective.
Interestingly, Wendi's brother is the closest person I know to embodying the highest number of contrary behaviors (diet and otherwise). A die-hard carnivore (and I mean pure carnivore, not "omnivore") to the bitter end, who's to say that my brother-in-law is not acting on the aforementioned "inscrutable imperatives of the Great Mystery"?
I'm not sure which one of them is the heyoka, come to think of it.
And then I got to wondering about what kind of tribe member I would be if I were Native American. Frankly, I know relatively little about the culture. But, it's pretty much common knowledge that there are chiefs, warriors, and medicine men. I didn't see myself as any of those. The heyoka didn't seem very me-like, either, at first. But then I looked them up on Wikipedia and noticed this snippet:
... they are the only ones who can ask "Why " about sensitive topics and employ satire to question the specialists and carriers of sacred knowledge or those in positions of power and authority.
Wow, that IS me. That's almost all I ever do -- ask "why." And, I know that's extremely weird because few others ever seem to care "why." But, caring "why" can lead you to great things -- like making rational choices in your daily life when it comes to diet.
I suppose the weirdest aspect of this entre post is it's lack of a solid point. But, then again, how contrary of me to ramble!