"Those who always know best are a universal pest" -Piet Hein
Remember when you were in grade school? Let's say 7th period History with Mr. Brown. Maybe it was the end of May, only weeks left until your summer recess, and you were staring out of the window, mindlessly watching the sun bounce shadows off of concrete. Some of your classmates begin to giggle, as you realize an exasperated Mr. Brown has asked you a question about the Industrial Revolution, for the third time. Embarrassed, you open your mouth, yet you don't know the answer. You were caught daydreaming, and now all eyes, including Mr. Brown's no-nonsense pair, are on you. But before you get the chance to speak a syllable, Johnny Know-It-All, your proud teacher's pet, cuts you off with snarky, entitled urgency. A collectively exaggerated pre-teen sigh circulates the room and someone from the back sarcastically asks if Johnny Know-It-All wants a biscuit. As the bell abruptly chimes, signaling the end of the school day, students begin to quickly shuffle out of the door. Out of the corner of your eye, you watch the bully kid from the back waltz over to where Johnny is neatly packing up his notes, pencils and such. Bully Kid shoves all of Johnny Know-ItAll's belongings to the floor with ease. Your feelings of embarrassment have gently washed away, replaced with mild satisfaction You smirk quietly to yourself while thinking, no one likes a know it all.
"Wrong is right" -Thelonious Monk
While contemplating what to write for this particular blog post, I had an interesting conversation with my father. I was sitting outside, reading, he was also outside wrapping up an over-the-phone interview. I've always liked to listen to my dad talk, his animated way of speaking being a cathartic release for me. The journalist wanted to know what my dad thought about the importance of a musicians ability to read and write sheet music, and how that process influences the artists creativity when composing. While answering the question but looking directly at me, my dad began to tell a story about Monk. Decades ago, there was a certain jazz pianist, also African-American, whom most would consider to be one of Monk's contemporaries. But unlike my grand father, this man did not read sheet music, nor did he write down his compositions. This was not the norm for the era, and many critics considered his music to be inferior, as such, and wrong. When asked his opinion, on the talent or lack-there-of, regarding "the man who can't read sheet music", Monk's answer was simple, clear and perfect. Wrong is right.
"What I learned is that it's arrogant to be certain of anything" -Lisa Gardner
When I think about how Wrong is right speaks to me, how I internalize Monk's simple words and break down the meaning in my psyche, my deepest thought is authenticity. Look, I'm an older millennial. #80sBaby90sRaisedMe. Like most of my peers, considering the current politically, socially and racially tense climate and history of our country, Wrong is right means f*ck the system. Rebel. Stick it to the Man. Resist. On the superficial forefront of my conscience, I interpret Wrong is right to be the equivalent of an open mind. To not sweat the small stuff. To not take myself so seriously. To be light of tongue and heart. But when I dig deep, pulling back the layers of my personality like an onion, and as I critically think, the meaning of Wrong is right reveals itself in my innermost thoughts. It's as if a flashing, neon display light has been plugged in my brain, those three little words written clearly and boldly, almost vibrating with intensity. Always be your authentic self, because you are good enough. It is so much easier to pretend to be something that you are not. Sometimes, and this is when it gets really scary, we create such a strong facade, while expertly masking our true selves, at which point we become disoriented and lose track of who we really are. As you look, the face in the mirror may be the same but the soul is truly unrecognizable.
"There are no wrong notes, some are just more right than others" -Thelonious Monk
So now I'm lost, I don't really know who I am, but I know what society wants me to be. How do I find myself again? Congratulations, you made it to the other side. The first step is to smash those rose colored glasses, and now, behold! Your vision is clear. Well, for starters, the process of self-enlightenment is slow, painful and exhausting. It can take years, maybe a lifetime and it's gotta be organic. You know that quote, heavily recycled and reused, the one about the wolf and the sheep. A century ago, whoever first wrote it down, read it, or applied it to his/her troubles or problems must've felt empowered, maybe even prophetic. But thanks to social media and pop culture, I'm sure you can scroll down your Instagram feed at this moment, and see the quote slapped on some stupid un-relatable meme. And isn't it ironic that if you cut the fluff and bullshit, ignore the likes and reposts, the fundamental message behind the wolf and the sheep will resonate with you today. Especially, say, if you're on a path towards self-discovery and the acknowledgement of the ideology that Wrong is right. Trust the process, but most importantly, trust yourself. Someone else's opinion honestly has nothing to do with you, be it constructive or negative. I'm on the same journey, maybe I've had a small head start, but I'm right next to you, putting one foot in front of the other. I am not Johnny, I don't know all of the answers, nor do I want to interrupt you. But from experience, I can tell you with confidence to try to always be kind to yourself, to suffocate any self-sabotaging thoughts before they manifest, to be exactly who you are and who you want to be, unapologetically, and that Wrong Is Right.