Freedom

If You Go Down to Oxford Road Today....

July 05, 2019


Anybody who's ever been shopping down Oxford Street will know there is a Hare Krishna temple in Soho. Because if you've ever popped down to the popularist shopping district of London, then no doubt you would have come across a very lively band of unusually dressed youths singing and dancing through the streets. This is the 'Hari-Name' (ha-ree-naam), and what a spectacle it is. Think of a Bollywood style procession with sarees and shaven headed youths dressed in orange and you will get an idea of what I mean.

I first saw the Hari Name many years ago and then like most people, I probably laughed with embarrassment and did all the things that happen when someone is in total disbelief. The Hari Krishna's were famous for it and my conclusions were.. Not cool, not acceptable and by no means normal... and caused an ocean of difference to spread between us. However, this was something close to ten years ago and if I told you what I got up to last Saturday night you might never believe the change in me! 

For the past year, I have been a student of the 'acceptance' of self expression and it all began last summer in a little town called Glastonbury. Glastonbury as you may know, is the kind of magical place where a simple stroll along the high street might lead to an encounter with all manner of the weird and wonderful.  Perhaps you will meet a moon maiden in a velvet cloak and crown or even a man from the forest, complete with bow and arrow. Fairy wings or musicians with jingle bell toes..  "it's all 'normal' for Glastonbury". It is nothing short of impressive to see that folk here can get out and do their thing, safe in the knowledge that you would have to work really really really hard to be type cast as a loony or crazy person, and so it didn't take me long to join in. After all, this is what I would call civil disobedience at its finest!  
    

Photo : Black Cat challenging views about stuffed bears in Glastonbury. 

In this spirit of freedom for fun, I successfully took a tambourine down the high street which was both well received and met with the acceptance of indifference. But despite having an audience of a liberal Glastonbury crowd, normalising a stuffed bear remains an area where more work will be required!
While the most well known benefits of self expression are thought to be on our emotional wellbeing, what I find of possibly greater importance is the public statement that is made when we can challenge societal definitions of 'normal' in this way.  It is so important, because we live in a time when our self expression is so severely restricted, the vast majority of us will spend our entire lives living through a socially conditioned mental captivity, never venturing beyond high street fashion, career path, or hair dye. Under this fear of judgement, depriving us from the freedom to choose who we really are.
  
So guess where I'm going next weekend..... to lend my support to celebration, freedom, and joy. Come and join me? You know I would love to see you there...