I have observed that society in general always seems to honor its living conformists and its dead troublemakers. All those who have ever made a difference in any profession have listened to the inner music they heard and proceeded independent of the opinions of others. That was certainly true of one of my favorite nonconformists, Henry David Thoreau, who walked to the beat of a different drum and followed the beliefs of his conscience. He knew that the beat you hear within yourself is your connection to your soul’s purpose.
My own eight children all march to the beat of their inner music, and in some cases it is definitely far away from what I hear. I’ve had to honor their instincts and their choices, and merely guided them out of harm’s way until they could be their own guides. I have always marched to my own beat, and most frequently it was inconsistent not only with my own immediate family, but with my culture as well. I could never find it in my heart to preach to my listeners to do it my way, when I’ve always pretty much ignored what was being preached to me.
An important teacher of mine, Abraham Maslow, always counseled that it was necessary for the self-actualized individual to be “independent of the good opinion of others.” Walk with Thoreau in your own mind. Listen to the voice you hear, and the drumbeat only you can feel, and honor it, while honoring it in those you love as well. It is the ultimate act of unconditional love. In being true to your inner calling, you may ruffle some feathers but you’ll have the peace and satisfaction of knowing that you fulfilled your divine purpose and encouraged others to do the same. Another brilliant nonconformist, Dr. Seuss, is credited with saying, “Be what you are and say what you feel, because those who will mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.”