The Oxford English dictionary defines the word “eccentric” this way:
ec-cen-tric \ik-‘sen-trik, ek-\
Adjective – (of a person or their behaviour) unconventional and slightly strange: he notes her eccentric appearance.
- technical not placed centrally or not having its axis or other part placed centrally: a servo driving an eccentric cam
- (of a circle) not centred on the same point as another.
- (of an orbit) not circular
- a person of unconventional and slightly strange views or behaviour: he’s seen as a local eccentric
- a disc or wheel mounted eccentrically on a revolving shaft in order to transform rotation into backward-and-forward motion, e.g. a cam in an internal-combustion engine
(Don’t you just LOVE how Brits spell things? I know I do…thank you England, for being awesome)
The Merriam Webster dictionary defines it as this:
adj.\ik-‘sen-trik, -ek\ – deviating from an established pattern or from accepted usage or conduct
n. – an eccentric person
The Urban Dictionary has about 12 different definitions for the word, noting everything from insanity to being unique and everything in between, with thought to highlighting the interesting correlation between verbiage and monetary affluence. (ie…a poor person exhibiting similar behavior is crazy while a rich person is simply “eccentric”).
Currently I am sitting criss-cross applesauce on a delightfully cushy armchair in a dark corner of a coffeehouse, sipping my deliciously standard skim, double shot caramel latte, sans whipped cream and listening to my traditional eclectic mix of tunage, consisting of everything from Frank Sinatra to Better Than Ezra, Volbeat to Led Zeppelin, Coheed and Cambria to David Bowie, Rusted Root to Magnetic Man, with a nice helping of 90’s jock jams. Pump up the volume indeed.
As I sit here, I am transported to the realm of my personal reality that encourages me to relive the famous song by Corey Hart and lower my 80s-tastic wayfarer sunglasses over my eyes in the already dimly lit room, just because I can.
The accessory was originally built for the sole purpose of shading the sensitive human eyes from the glare of the not so forgiving solar rays. For some, sunglasses have also become a fashion accessory which can even act as head-wear, much like a headband…ocular safety be dammed. However, for some, sunglasses are a shield. Whether that shield exists to protect the individual from the outside world or serves as an escape depends on the individual in question. In my case, I wear them when I write.
To me, they are an escape from the real world. Behind these glasses I can exist on my own mental island, immersed in the calm existence that allows me to be the most pure version of myself. I can sit criss-cross applesauce in my armchair, sipping my latte, whirring on the high of caffeine, music and thousands of perfect little black letters crawling across the blank page to form beautiful words. I feel like a secret architect, erecting awkward monuments of thoughts. Nothing can stop me or hinder my progress, nothing can interr-…oh, there’s my second latte…be right back.
Okay, now that’s out of the way, so let us return to the topic at hand…the word eccentric. I suppose that there are some that would look at me in passing and with their mental sharpie, write a nice little “eccentric” scrawl above my head as they go about their daily routine. Perhaps more likely would a be an odd look of disdain, shifting me off as some crazy coffeehouse nut job contributing to the downfall of modern society as they hurriedly grab their coffee on their way back to the office to submit their TPS reports.
There are two types of people in the world…those that disapprove of unconventional behavior, and those who appreciate it. I, for one, relish it. It adds spice to life. It takes what can slowly become soulsuckingly mundane and creates a lovely little sweet spot, guaranteed to create a curl at the corner of the most tightly pursed lips, even if it’s in mockery.
Some of the brightest contributions to modern society have been supplied by those who were considered by most to be slightly askew.
Thomas Alva Edison, inventor of modern uses of electricity, such as the light bulb, a man who changed the course of contemporary life and energy resources, ignored the need for sleep, food and many other human necessities due to a feeling of loss of productivity to lesser activities (Santillano, 2009).
Leonardo DiVinci, true renaissance man, painter of some of the most interesting, highly revered and highly debated works of art in the world (The Mona Lisa, The Last Supper) and the developer of the widely referenced Vitruvian Man, also refused sleep as well as being a devout vegetarian and fierce procrastinator (Santillano, 2009).
Ludwig van Beethoven, composer of hauntingly beautiful musical compositions which practically define synergy, had such an incredible temper that he could not keep house staff as a result of throwing such frightening tantrums, and he regularly wore dirty clothes until they rotted away (Santillano, 2009).
Nikola Tesla, physicist and engineer responsible for the discovery and invention of nuclear power, robotics, and radar was a celibate in love with a Pigeon, and had severe Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, especially concerning numbers, so much so that he refused to stay in a hotel room that was not divisible by the number 3 (Bayne, 2008).
Pythagoras, a Greek mathematician of grand proportions, who fathered the discovery of mathematical patterns in nature, culminating in the creation of trigonometry and the Pythagorean theorem, as well as sparking the birth of physics, began his own religious sect based on the belief that beans (not metaphorical or metaphysical beans…but real, plant them in the ground and grow them beans) are evil (Bayne, 2008).
Tycho Brahe, a man renowned for his accuracy of celestial measurement, minus the helpful hand of modern astronomical telescopic technology. His measurement was so accurate that it facilitated the discovery of planetary motion along with his assistant Johannes Kepler. This same man, however, kept the full-time employment of a little person whom he dressed up as a clown and paid to sit, for no apparent reason other than personal appeal, underneath the table during dinner parties (Bayne, 2008).
*Note: As a bit of an eccentric myself, I have to, at the very least, respect his commitment to his own quirks; BUT as person who has a genuine fear and repulsion of clowns, what reason could you really have for that kind of nonsense? None.
Oscar Wilde, one of the most venerated authors of the Victorian era, writing such famous literary works as “The Importance of being Earnest” and “The Picture of Dorian Gray”, was a paramount of moral liberalism in a time of moral conservativism and a contemporary libertarian anarchist. Despite his contributions to the art of literature, he lived his life in flamboyance, being the very portrait of a libertine, who was often witnessed walking down the street with a lobster on a leash and was jailed for sodomy during a time when participating in a homosexual relationship was a considered a crime against the state (Frater, 2009).
Albert Einstein, probably one of the most prominent, renowned scientists of our time, preeminent in his contributions to modern physics including the theory of relativity (E=MC2), named Person of the Century in TIME magazine and winner of the Nobel Prize, his name has become synonymous with the word “genius”. He is also one of the most famous cases of assumed Asperger’s Syndrome, part of the Autism Spectrum. He had no social skills to speak of, regularly picked up cigarette butts off the ground to smoke, endlessly ranted about the mathematical properties of mundane objects such as soap bubbles, and would deliberately sail in windless weather “for the challenge”.
Along with these are many other mental and behavioral wonders of the world:
Stephen Hawking, Michelangelo di Lodovici Buonarrati Simoni, Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta, Pablo Picaso, Salvidor Dali, Dennis Rodman, Edgar Allen Poe, John Lennon, John Nash, Kim Peek (better recognized as the inspiration for the character Raymond “Rainman” Babbitt), Max from Where the Wild Things Are, Lars from Lars and the Real Girl…
Artists, Writers, Musicians, Athletes, Scientists, Mathematicians, Fictional Characters…you. Me.
Eccentricity has existed since the beginning of time, and its God’s little way of injecting some whimsy into the sometimes stagnant attitude of a society built around norms. After all, God is anything but normal. God defies all understanding. God is beautiful. An eccentricity in His and Her (since God is to sex and gender what Schrodinger’s cat is to life and death) own right, God dictates a world that deserves, nay demands some eccentricity, in order to display the true extent and beauty of creation.
Challenge for my readers:
Embrace a little eccentricity of your own today. Wear mismatching socks…hell, wear mismatching shoes. Wear some of the obnoxious blue eye shadow your grandma use to wear up to her eyebrows. Sing in the elevator…when you’re not alone. Walk down the sidewalk backwards. Speak in one word sentences for a day. Use a walking stick.
Whatever you choose to do, commit to it, if just for one day, and ENJOY it. You may feel silly, but hey, that’s the point isn’t it? 🙂
Leave me a comment to tell me what you did to embrace eccentricity today.
What makes YOU a beautiful eccentric?
❤ C6H12O6 CN-