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Smelling Different from the Tribe

Yesterday I had a conversation with a friend about outcasts. This question of those people who are not automatically accepted into the group has always fascinated me, probably because I have continually experienced myself as unlike the other members of every collective in which I have ever found myself. As a Navy brat, I was ambitious and intent on climbing up the world of books and ideas; at Yale, I was the oddball from the lower middle class, the first person of my family ever to go to college, who had never heard of a Trust Fund, and who had trouble understanding the concept of people receiving money for just being born; in my first marriage, I was the schicksa who converted, who was never quite fluent in the unspoken dialect and assumptions of born Jewry. Failure to fit in comfortably gave me the belief that The Lord of the Flies is an apt sociological description. That is, flocks of people thrust pointy weapons at outsiders.

But my friend astrologer Lynn Bell had insights into this archetype that I’d never considered. Lynn’s mind is rich, fertile, and playful–which is one reason I love speaking with her. She always has a mythic twist I hadn’t considered. It’s important to surround ourselves with those people who intrigue us into questioning our axioms, don’t you think? And Lynn’s point was that once the outsider, the outcast, brings something new and valuable to the tribe–he or she then becomes Prometheus. The light bringer. I guess that’s when you get to keep your scent and like it, too.