Hello! Now, Gentle Reader – would you view yourself as being an eccentric? If your personality leans towards the creative, you probably are. Creative people have a reputation for eccentricity and it’s not hard to see why when we consider the habits of some well-known creatives.
These examples range from harmless eccentricity to borderline insanity, but if you’re an artist or professional creative, you can probably relate to some of them. And (to me) they look perfectly normal, but I guess eccentricity, as with beauty, is in the eye of the beholder.
And just to show I’m as normal (I think) as anyone, you may like to know this article was composed in my usual manner – fuelled with tea, (Assam, thank you very much), walking up and down whilst having a think, the laptop humming, and listening to ‘Music For A Found Harmonium’ by the Penguin Cafe Orchestra. Also, if we ever meet, you might notice that I have a habit of going off at inappropriate tangents during conversation. Odd, you might think, but as far as eccentric behaviour goes this is so mild as to barely register.
Eccentricity. We all know it when we see it. Chances are high some of you reading this are eccentric, and we British are quietly proud to lead the world in producing Grade-A loons. Oscar Wilde, for example, used to take a lobster on a lead for walks. Yet there has been astonishingly little clinical research into the subject to date, probably because eccentrics tend to be cheerful souls who rarely seek treatment.
Also, many assume that eccentricity is one short step from serious mental disorder. Wrong. It’s established fact that eccentrics suffer less from mental illnesses such as depression than the majority of the population. Few are drug or alcohol abusers, visiting their doctor 20 times less often than most of us and, on average, live slightly longer.
Why? It’s thought that those who don’t repress their inner nature in the struggle to conform suffer less stress. Consequently, they are happier and their immune systems work more efficiently. Overall, eccentrics tend to be optimistic people with a highly developed, mischievous sense of humour, childlike curiosity and a drive to make the world a better place. They are also highly creative: think Prince, who has been known to conduct interviews with a bag on his head, or the delectable fruitcakeyness of Kate Bush.
Being a person who detests political correctness or any other form of repression, constantly at odds with the sneering, curtain-twitching, self-elected arbiters of social conformity, I rejoice in the fact that eccentricity – so long as it harms no-one else is simply a matter of personal freedom, and a benefit to us all.
Eccentrics are the people who see problems from new and unexpected angles; whose very oddity allows them to conjure innovative solutions. They are the visionaries who make giant imaginative leaps. Sir Isaac Newton once stuck a large needle into his eye socket and twiddled it around, apparently for the sheer wanton hell of it. Einstein always filled his pipe with tobacco from cigarette ends found in the street.
Eccentrics often provide the unusual, untried ideas that allow human societies to progress – not too shabby for folk who are very often dismissed as cranks and crazies.
However you might manifest it, be proud of your eccentricity and always remember that while there will be those who disapprove, you don’t have a problem – they do. By choosing to march to the beat of your own drum you are doing yourself, and the rest of us, a favour. The mockers have nothing to offer but a social straitjacket.
So, what are you waiting for? Be eccentric in your dreams, your goals, and your life.
We all have very few shots at life – make them count.