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Column: Inside ~ Outside

Ann Barczay Sloan

Welcome to the Outsider's Club

by Ann Barczay Sloan

Have you — yes YOU, quietly reading these words — ever felt as if you'd been plunked down from a galaxy far, far away... right down onto this Earthly Planet most people consider their "real home"?

Since early childhood, I've felt this unexplainable sense of distance. And yes, it's often been an interesting "stranger in a strange land" type of journey…


“ There must be some mistake,
I don’t belong here! ”

Why am I willing to admit that I instinctively associate myself with some unknown faraway origin, whereas I "should" be identifying myself with the social milieu, the town, country and continent I was born into?

Because I have a sense that some of you may readily relate to and welcome an open discussion of such an unsettling subject.

So let's join in an exploration of that sense that somehow we don't really fit or "belong" within the norm of our family and social circle: That somehow our inmost spirit is not in harmony with (or cannot accept) the status quo, the prevailing societal paradigm.

Let's talk about that sense of being a misfit: Feeling disinterested, alienated; those flashes of "There must be some mistake, I don't belong here! Surely I've been exiled to the wrong place!" Harboring such thoughts — and even more dangerous, sharing them with others — often seems like NOT a good idea!

At times, we may have a desperate longing to fit in after all... simply because it feels incredibly lonely to always be on the outside looking in.

On the other hand, let's admit that sometimes this perception of being a misfit feels highly pleasurable: Liberating. Thrilling. Even hysterically funny.

“ I'm simply asking you to acknowledge
if you've ever experienced this sense
of being a Detached Outsider. ”

Scary to think about, yes? Even scarier to dwell upon such thoughts for any length of time, yes? And to actually admit to harboring such thoughts, to tell someone... well, that's a perfect example of existential anxiety, my friend!

So now, as you're reading these words in the privacy of your own privacy — if you understand what I'm talking about, please raise your hand! (No one will see you but YOU) — I'm simply asking you to acknowledge if you've ever experienced this sense of being a Detached Outsider. Perhaps some secret inner aspect of you actually feels intrigued at the prospect of delving more deeply into this unbidden Mystery!

“Outside Observers” observing the other “Outside Observers”

If you've been honest just now and raised your hand, imagine now that you have clairvoyant "second sight"! Look around your home, your town and country... and notice: How many other silently raised hands surround you?

As that supposedly Lone Outsider, what do you see? Do you suddenly see a lot of "outside observers" observing the other "outside observers" — even while also aware of their own inner selves?

For those of us who hang around this planet feeling separate, it might be wise to stop and consider:

  • WHO is the one that has put up that invisible shield, drawn the separation lines?

  • WHO is the one that has assigned to me the "Outside Observer" role?

  • Is it possible there may be essential wisdom for me to learn, extraordinary powers for me to attain, by choosing to watch from the periphery? By living "in the world but not of it"?

  • Is it possible, on the other hand, that I may miss out on unimagined experiences, incalculable valuables, by my attachment to this "Permanent Outsider" point of view?

I'd like to conclude with two points for each of us to consider:

  1. Is each one of us really alone, isolated, alienated... or are we ALL ONE in feeling separate and cut off from the ALL?

    Yes, how ironic is that!?!

  2. Can we train ourselves to REALize that — in each moment of Now — we DO have the power to alternate between these two points of view?

    To whatever benefit, we may choose: Inside… Outside… unto Infinity…

What shall it be?


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