Procrustes was not a good man. He was the stretcher.
Procrustes was the son of Poseidon, the mighty god of the seas, and he had an iron bed. He was very gracious in sharing and caring and made everyone suffer in it. But there was a problem. People came in all types of shapes and sizes, and naturally, not everyone fit. Not everyone was able to pass his rigid standards. But that didn’t really turn out to be a problem. He helped everyone by stretching them out or by cutting off their limbs so they could come enjoy his iron bed and suffer the same fate, equally.
Procrustes was a great standards maker and I think he would be very proud of the civilization he managed to inspire.
And don’t you think that its good to fit in?
Be honest now.
Haven’t you stretched yourself a few times throughout your life because that was the proper thing to do? Because that is what you were told to do?
Haven’t you given up on many of your dreams and simply call them crazy?
Didn’t you castrate parts of your life in order to be normal?
To be cool? Accepted? Appreciated?
To make a good wage. To retire. And to be able to go away on vacation once a year.
Didn’t you trade in your childhood dreams for your current adult nightmares?
But what’s so sacred about standards?
Why are we obsessed to be the same and be truly equal?
Why are we fighting each other to be normal?
Sameness seems a bit worse that equality, but they are nothing more than different versions of the same iron bed. But I’m not saying that we don’t need standards and I’m certainly not saying they are not important. I am simply making the point that standards hold us back and need to be broken. They were made to serve us, but somehow, we only manage to serve them.
You are unique.
One of a kind.
Dare I say it.
You’re a special snow flake, as Seth Godin puts it.
I personally cringe at the words when I hear them, but he is right.
Which is why I keep saying it.
You are special and unique.
An irreplaceable unique little snow flake.
And yet you spend the majority of your days trying to become like everyone else.
Monasteries, prisons, hospitals, schools, and factories, are exactly the same institution. The same iron bed. They all want exactly the same thing. To make us compliant.
They want to stretch or cut us.
They intend to make us average.
A great school is not interested in making the weak strong, or the strong student stronger. This is why they don’t embrace the many shades of progress but only focus on measurement. They are not interested in human qualities but are rather unhealthily focused on creating and maintaining standards. They are very interested in sameness and they expand great energy to pat themselves on the back for doing so.
Hospitals are for the healthy. They are not interested in the sick.
Hospitals are not interested in making sick people healthy. They are heavily invested in keeping all the beds clear because more people are always coming. And so they are. And so it really doesn’t matter who you are, what your name is, or why you’re there or what you need. Your needs don’t particularly outweigh the needs of others, and so you have to go as soon as you have to go.
I’m not saying schools and hospitals shouldn’t have standards. I don’t have a better solution to bring education and healthcare to the masses. I just wish to point out that perhaps they are known to fail in being human.
But lets get back to you.
Do you believe that you’re a special snowflake?
Do you appreciate your life?
Appreciate where you’ve been? Where you want to go?
How unique you are.
Why not you? Why not now?
What is it that you need? Whatever it is, go out and get it.
And if you don’t, they’ll just make you the same, if they haven’t already.
If its not too late.
They’ll make you feel guilty that you want to be happy.
Happiness is not allowed.
It’s an aberration.
It’s not normal.
It’s not attainable or sustainable.
It’s a mistake.
Its an abnormality that needs to be stretched or cut out.
Procrustes made his bed, but don’t you dare willingly lie in it.
Cover photo generously provided by photographer Teddy Kelley via unsplash.com