As the seventh of eight children, I was raised with little pressure. For instance, no one at home cared much about my test scores, or even whether I took tests. This was wonderfully freeing but disorienting, so as an adolescent I absorbed the culture of driven materialism that still dominates American society.
Of course, this created the suffering that arises when we live life from the outside in, rather than the inside out. That blessed &%#$ suffering helped me let go of societal expectations and feel around for my “inner compass.” Ever since, in any argument between Compass v. Culture, I’ve tried to let Compass win.
Right now, many of us feel an immense shift in the way humans live in this world. That shift, while benevolent, comes from within, rather than from our culture. That means your inner compass will inevitably tell you to break society’s expectations. Maybe that’s happening right now. If not, wait a few minutes. It’s coming.
Your counter-cultural impulse may be large (sell everything and become a goatherd), or it may be small (just let your thighs do whatever they freaking want). Maybe you’ll feel like becoming nocturnal, breeding hamsters, or spending hours staring blankly at a wall.
You can recognize a Compass v. Culture moment when something you’re “supposed” to do feels like trying to French-kiss a wolverine, and something that “makes no sense” feels incredibly seductive. Personally, I absolutely love staring at walls; it feels blissful enough to be a sin. Go figure.
Mind, born in culture, will never understand your inner compass. Soul, so much bigger than culture, may tell you where to go without explaining why. Follow it anyway. If it creates suffering, stop. But if it opens up a road you’ve never imagined, take it. I hope I’ll see you there.