When the going gets tough – or unpredictable

By Morf Morford

Tacoma Daily Index

When the going gets tough…

In every category of life, business and politics – even individual health and relationships – challenges abound, seeming to keep multiplying, growing in complexity and ever more resistant to traditional – or maybe any – solutions.

From inflation to homelessness to the ever increasing threat of weather extremities, our challenges seem to come from everywhere, with no discernible source or cause.

Difficulties – with rising complexities – seem to emerge with depressing regularity – and we essentially solve almost none of them. Including wars (Yemen, Syria, Afghanistan, Palestine, Myanmar, Congo and of course, Ukraine, among many others). To monitor wars around the world, keep an eye on this site.

A popular saying from several years ago was “When the going gets tough, the tough get going”.

That’s a reasonable response – at least when being “tough” is a possible solution. Being “tough” could mean being more assertive or aggressive or maybe even the ability to withstand, and one would assume, survive unforeseen and difficult experiences.

But a show of strength, or even endurance, is not always what the situation calls for.

Unlikely and unpredictable situations call for unlikely and unpredictable responses.

When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro. – Hunter S. Thompson, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, 1971

The word “weird” is not necessarily negative or positive (though many of us might use it that way). The word “weird” just refers to those things we are not accustomed to. Yet.

In other words, any new or break-through idea, concept, or even fashion statement is, at first at least, “weird” – and maybe even unsettling or offensive.

As much as most of us assert, and insist upon our own individuality, I would argue that humanity, around the globe and at any time in history, has never known such an extremity of conformity and near desperation aimed toward “fitting in”. But mass conformity is the ultimate “unnatural act”.

There’s another old saying, “If two people hold the same opinions, one of them is unnecessary”.

Maybe it’s just me, but I begin to feel uncomfortable when everyone around me seems to hold (or at least express) the same opinions about music or politics, or almost anything.

Memorable conversation and learning of any kind is not possible when everyone is settled – and too comfortable – in their positions and opinions.

Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect. – Mark Twain

Nature itself seems to rise up against any and all walls, monuments and structures of human self-confidence.

From volcanoes, earthquakes, hurricanes or viruses, no human institution or construction, from temples to freeway systems, stands eternal.

Perhaps the ultimate irony is that the human constructions that, in most cases at least, survive every storm or war or natural catastrophe are the songs and stories we tell ourselves to remind us of what others have gone through, and that, no matter how difficult, horrible, menacing or even just flat-out “weird” things get, we, some of us at least, will get through it – if we can adapt, flex, even roll with whatever life throws at us.

In order to be irreplaceable one must always be different. – Coco Chanel

Living in our era is, for most, if not all of us, the constant struggle between two impulses – the longing to fit in and the need to stand out. The bottom line though, is that the world, our economy and even (probably) your family, doesn’t need someone else to fit in and do what everyone else has already done.

We all need someone who sees horizons and possibilities the rest of us haven’t seen yet. And we need those who step out and do what most of us could never have imagined possible. We usually call these people trouble-makers or even lunatics – until a century or two passes – and then we call them prophets or geniuses. In other words, when their ideas are no longer new – or challenging – and we have become accustomed to them – we can accept, even honor them.

As they knew, and some of us understand, everything is “weird” until we get used to it.

The real survivors, even those who would thrive, the “pros” as Hunter S. Thompson might put it, are the ones who can see what is coming before it overwhelms us.

And, like every society and culture, we kill our prophets and then, when we have silenced them, build statues of them.

A society that appreciates its living prophets is rare indeed. Maybe we should try it sometime…