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Author Topic: "Average-Jane" Pagans?  (Read 19586 times)
DazzlednFrazzled
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« Topic Start: May 27, 2007, 11:04:53 pm »

I just had several great laughs reading the thread by SneekyWren and the one about the Spectacularly BAD info about Pagan Religions.  Cheesy

I'm delighted to find many informed, educated, articulate, and humorous individuals here!!

I'm going to stick to the 101 forums for a bit and hope that you all will be patient with me.  I've got a lot of questions and tend to "shoot from the hip" (I don't beat around the bush, but will be very respectful with my questions).

I'd like to start with one thing that means a lot to me and I hope this will make some sense.  I'm not completely unfamiliar with Pagan Religions... for a few years in my middle and late teens I was very much involved with Wicca.  There were reasons I was drawn to that path and a few reasons I felt distanced from it.

Some of the distancing aspects... I felt "kooky"

Please allow me to explain.  For whatever reason, I'm a somewhat "traditional" person.  I have had jobs with companies and corporations and ran with the "yuppie" crowd in my town.  I enjoy benefits where you dress to the nines and drink champagne.  I don't need a lot of financial wealth, but I do enjoy participating in things that "high society" is drawn to. 

Don't get me wrong -- I have done my time living without a "pot to pee in" and as starving college student, etc... I made due with what I had and truthfully, loved *every* minute of it  Smiley

I found that when I would attend Wiccan gatherings, circles, go to book signings, Wiccan or Pagan Stores, etc, etc... I was surrounded by people that I didn't look like, I didn't fit in with, and worse, I didn't completely feel comfortable around.  Some of it was the attire, some was the attitude, some was the focus on ritual... which didn't feel "right" to me. 

Not everything was uncomfortable... not when I was alone, reading, writing, meditating on my own, etc... but I never did find a connection with any other Wiccans (in my area) that I felt I had a thing in common with... there was often a self-righteous aire about the community... almost as uncomfortable as the Christian communities I grew up with...

I want to feel comfortable with a "Pagan" friend that I know closely shares most of my beliefs... so that we have that in common -- but I'd like it if she just wore jeans... and if she didn't mind having a "trendy" haircut or taking in a charity benefit wearing a department store outfit instead of a robe  Grin

I hope that I have explained my thoughts in a non-offensive way here... I don't find a bit wrong with ritual, I just do not strive to be as "different as possible" -- that's my own comfort level... are there many Pagan individuals who just basically walk around behaving like the average joe yet take to heart their religious beliefs and history without wearing it on their sleeves in such an obvious manner?

Respectfully,
Dazzled 'n Frazzled

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« Reply #1: May 27, 2007, 11:40:21 pm »


I found that when I would attend Wiccan gatherings, circles, go to book signings, Wiccan or Pagan Stores, etc, etc... I was surrounded by people that I didn't look like, I didn't fit in with, and worse, I didn't completely feel comfortable around. 

Why didn't you feel comfortable around them- was it because you didn't look like them? Did you try talking to any of these folks?

Some of it was the attire,


What about it? What sort of attire? I can only go by what you're saying here...but did you not talk to these people because of the clothing they wore?

 
some was the attitude,


what sort of attitude?

some was the focus on ritual... which didn't feel "right" to me.

what do you mean- did you not like the focus of the particular ritual or do you mean something else here? 

Not everything was uncomfortable... not when I was alone, reading, writing, meditating on my own, etc... but I never did find a connection with any other Wiccans (in my area) that I felt I had a thing in common with... there was often a self-righteous aire about the community... almost as uncomfortable as the Christian communities I grew up with...

okay...so you're okay by yourself. Got that. But other than not likiing the attitude or clothing of others...what sort of interactions have you had with other pagans? What did you do? What did you talk about? what made you uncomfortable?

I want to feel comfortable with a "Pagan" friend that I know closely shares most of my beliefs... so that we have that in common -- but I'd like it if she just wore jeans... and if she didn't mind having a "trendy" haircut or taking in a charity benefit wearing a department store outfit instead of a robe  Grin

Okay...so I'm going to be honest here, keep in mind that I can only go by what you've written, but the impression that I get from this post is that you've superficially met some people in your area and don't like the way they dress so you don't want to associate with them. So you're looking for a pagan friend that "looks normal"?

I hope that I have explained my thoughts in a non-offensive way here... I don't find a bit wrong with ritual, I just do not strive to be as "different as possible" --

What does not finding anyhitng wrong with ritual have to do with nopt wanting to be "as different as possible"?

that's my own comfort level... are there many Pagan individuals who just basically walk around behaving like the average joe yet take to heart their religious beliefs and history without wearing it on their sleeves in such an obvious manner?

what do you mean by "the average joe"? Seriously.

I'm trying to understand what you're saying...but being that I'm one of those people that you're probably wanting to avoid- I have hot pink hair, 15 earrings and a couple of tattoos- I'm having a hard time not reading this as "I want a pagan friend whose looks I approve of, and I don't want to associate with the weird-looking ones"

Like I said, I don't mean to offend, I only have what you've written to go on. If I've gotten it wrong, please clarify.
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« Reply #2: May 28, 2007, 12:08:21 am »

Hi Fiamma... I'm having a hard time with the quote function and I just successfully deleted the entire thing...  Shocked  I am replying to Fiamma...

The experiences I had were many years ago -- I have since moved from that area, I was located in Central Florida at the time.  I do not take a bit of offense to your reply, btw  Smiley

When I would attend the different gatherings, or events... yes, I did talk to many of the attendees.  I simply never felt like I made a "connection" with anyone though.  Some of my discomfort was indeed based upon the ritual dress or outward appearance; I just couldn't see myself having much (aside from some fundamental spiritual beliefs) in common with many of the individuals.

Although an important aspect of our lives is spirituality and religious beliefs, we have the mundane in common as well... house and home, significant others, children maybe, family, etc, etc. 

I'm going to try quoting again:

Quote
What about it? What sort of attire? I can only go by what you're saying here...but did you not talk to these people because of the clothing they wore?

The attire was often unkempt... almost seemed a little dirty in some ways.  Please... understand I'm not implying that all Pagan people everywhere are filthy, lol... I think the best was to describe what I mean is kind of 1960's flower-child "hippy-esque".  (I did talk to many of the people though -- I just didn't find we had much in common, much more than simply attire)

Quote
what sort of interactions have you had with other pagans? What did you do? What did you talk about? what made you uncomfortable?

Interations were mainly holiday gatherings, workshops, book signings, craft shows, etc.  Since I did not have any Pagan friends, I would go alone and hope to meet new people with common interests, but the conversations seemed focused on whatever the event was about mainly... I didn't feel a comfort level with the conversation moving or flowing to other categories really.

Quote
Okay...so I'm going to be honest here, keep in mind that I can only go by what you've written, but the impression that I get from this post is that you've superficially met some people in your area and don't like the way they dress so you don't want to associate with them. So you're looking for a pagan friend that "looks normal"?


I only ever spent time with one girl, who was also Wiccan.  At the time I was in school with the goal to start a career in law enforcement and she was comfortable with casual drug usage; this collided with my life goals at the time and though she was a very nice girl our friendship did not develop.  I'm not judging her... I just wasn't able to participate or be in the kind of environment she was comfortable with at the time. 

The experience is much deeper than the way a person dresses... I didn't intend to come off indicating that.  It's more or less that the contact I had seemed almost like a seperate community inside of a shared society.  A community I didn't really *fit* into, for a number of reasons.  Perhaps it is superficial... I don't think it feels superficial, but I can respectthat to someone else it may come off that way.  What I'd really love is yes... someone I share common interests with.  I do celebrate diversity, but with diversity comes common interests and everyone enjoys to have things in common with companions, a place where they can just "be themselves".  I have found that, of course... just not with anyone who walked a Pagan path spiritually.


Quote
what do you mean by "the average joe"? Seriously.

I'm trying to understand what you're saying...but being that I'm one of those people that you're probably wanting to avoid- I have hot pink hair, 15 earrings and a couple of tattoos- I'm having a hard time not reading this as "I want a pagan friend whose looks I approve of, and I don't want to associate with the weird-looking ones"

My favorite shade to dye my hair used to be deadly nightshade, I also liked vampire red (manic panic -- I was too sissy to try blue, but I liked the violet shades); I have a tattoo and at one time had 3 body piercings aside from my ears.  I have become more comfortable now with simply being a little more conservative, but still have a little rebel in me  Wink

So it isn't so much of the desire to get to know a person that "isn't weird looking" but more or less finding people that I share more in common with... our outward appearance is somewhat reflective of who we are internally as well -- and again, i celebrate this; but it doesn't mean I wouldn't like to find more people kind of like myself... and I see myself as pretty *average*.  I mean -- can't a "soccer mom" be Pagan too?   Grin
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« Reply #3: May 28, 2007, 12:42:26 am »

Quote
what do you mean by "the average joe"? Seriously.

I'm trying to understand what you're saying...but being that I'm one of those people that you're probably wanting to avoid- I have hot pink hair, 15 earrings and a couple of tattoos- I'm having a hard time not reading this as "I want a pagan friend whose looks I approve of, and I don't want to associate with the weird-looking ones"

Like I said, I don't mean to offend, I only have what you've written to go on. If I've gotten it wrong, please clarify.


Fiamma... I had a thought, maybe this is a better way to explain.  Switch the shoes for a moment... say that you felt spiritually rooted and comfortable with the research and personal experience you had with *insert religion*... After a while of visiting websites, book stores, etc, you decided to step out into the community.  You showed up at a gathering donning your hot pink hair, 15 earrings, and couple of tats... and you walked into a room full of people where the men were wearing slacks and button up shirts looking like they just stepped out of a "stock brokers r us" meeting  Grin And there were women running around in conservative "career looking" outfits or casual but "trendy"  Shocked clothing kind of like they just walked off of the page of a Cosmo magazine. 

You knew they shared many of the same spiritual beliefs you did, for why else would they be there -- but somehow you just felt way, way out of place, like you just didn't quite "fit".

You wouldn't judge these people or think they were wrong in how different they seemed than you... but still, the natural longing to "belong" might still tug at you a little.  I guess that's what I'm trying to get across... and I hope it makes more sense  Smiley
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« Reply #4: May 28, 2007, 12:46:43 am »


I hope that I have explained my thoughts in a non-offensive way here... I don't find a bit wrong with ritual, I just do not strive to be as "different as possible" -- that's my own comfort level... are there many Pagan individuals who just basically walk around behaving like the average joe yet take to heart their religious beliefs and history without wearing it on their sleeves in such an obvious manner?

Respectfully,
Dazzled 'n Frazzled




I get where you're coming from. While I haven't attended any gatherings to meet people, generally whenever I have seen or seen media coverage of gatherings, quite a few people are very flamboyant. I think it might be a minority-group thing (maybe dressing and acting a certain way in groups will get them that media coverage?), or maybe it is actually related to their lifestyles. I, for one, can do without dressing up like a hippie or a Harry Potter character (then again, I'm not Wiccan).

It might be compared to homosexuals--some are more open and flamboyant than others, for one reason or another. I know some people whose very identity rides on the fact that they are gay, and others for whom sexual identity only applies to relationships, nothing more.  Perhaps that is the difference between the "Average-Jane" pagans and the others you ran into. My identity is multifaceted, and being pagan is just a part of that. As I run into relatively few pagans and I don't believe that religious beliefs should affect dress, I wear what I want, and it's usually mainstream.

Often, also, religious leanings are related to political leanings. If a religion is all about spreading world peace, saving the environment, etc. etc. then these people may have been drawn to it because of that, and would have a common lifestyle that might be different from yours, especially if you were drawn to the religion for another reason. (F'ex, at one time I considered attending a Unitarian Universalist church, but I couldn't handle the political nature of it, however much I might have been interested in their religious practices).
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« Reply #5: May 28, 2007, 12:48:41 am »

are there many Pagan individuals who just basically walk around behaving like the average joe yet take to heart their religious beliefs and history without wearing it on their sleeves in such an obvious manner?

Short answer:  yes.

This question reminds me of a thread we had a few weeks ago on "Respectable Pagans?":  
http://www.ecauldron.net/forum/index.php?topic=786.msg10821#msg10821

You might want to read through that thread for people's descriptions of just how "normal" and average -- and, oh yeah, pagan -- they are.

Take me, f'ex.  I'm 43, have 2 teenage daughters and another teenage foster daughter.  My husband and I have been married for 22 years.  I have a master's degree and a law degree, both from very well-respected universities, and I am a member of the state bar.  I work in Washington, DC, which is, in many ways, an extremely conservative large metro area.  

OK, I have my cartilidge pierced, and I have one small tattoo, with a second planned.  However, there are only a few people outside my immediate family who know I'm pagan.  Most of my close friends don't even know -- simply because the subject hasn't come up.  

And, yes, when my girls were younger, I was a soccer mom and a Girl Scout leader and a did all those "normal" suburban family things.   Cheesy

Sometimes I help out in a pagan-y store a friend of mine owns.  The clientele is extremely diverse.  I have seen every type of person come in, from the ones dressed in business suits to the ones dressed "hippy" to the ones in basketball jerseys and tons of bling.  The one thing that is really obvious to me is that you really CAN'T judge someone's spirituality by their looks.

Just my two cents, FWIW...

~MI
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« Reply #6: May 28, 2007, 01:26:57 am »

The attire was often unkempt... almost seemed a little dirty in some ways.  Please... understand I'm not implying that all Pagan people everywhere are filthy, lol... I think the best was to describe what I mean is kind of 1960's flower-child "hippy-esque".  (I did talk to many of the people though -- I just didn't find we had much in common, much more than simply attire)

Hello DazzlednFrazzled,

I see what you are saying. The social/political movement in the 60s that produced the hippies has indeed become an American sub-culture with it's own set of rules and styles. It is much more than the attire.  And as you are not a member of the sub-culture the experience left you feeling out of place. Understandable.

My experience has been that as Wicca and Paganism are non mainstream religion, it does tend to attract non mainstream people. Especially such a religion as Wicca which relies heavily on the individual making their own personal spiritual discoveries, it attracts people who like to think for themselves on many different levels.

However, don't give up yet on ever making friends in the community. I know several witches who are not hippies, two of my own kids included (they are right around your age). My middle son is a dedicated yuppie (don't touch his flat screen 54" HD plasma TV!) and is engaged to a delightful witch who is a bigwig at Microsoft.  My youngest son is in the military Special Forces , he has very 'normal' values, a wife and two kids, is certainly not low income and does not do drugs. Yet he is an eclectic witch and since coming back from Iraq has become very interested in Astrau. He has met several folks in the military who are followers of the Norse religion and was very impressed by them.  'Regular' Pagan people are out there. They are in the minority of the Pagans I personally know, but then I live in California which has a large hippie population. Oh - my oldest boy is also an eclectic witch married to a Wiccan, but they are hippies.

Also, and this is a big also, you might just be surprised by some of the hippie types at the gatherings. I was a dedicated soccer mom (three sons y'know), have a thriving business, do not do drugs, am reasonably clean (okay, I'm teasing you on that one  Wink) and also enjoy going to the opera, Shakespeare festivals, art openings, champagne charity brunches and have several wealthy, professional friends I've met in both of my careers. My tastes cross social borders. Yet I am certainly a member of the hippie/artist community and a witch. You may find interesting friends right in the dominate Pagan community, although it would develop more naturally outside of time-restricted holiday events, like perhaps a local Pagan shopkeeper or employees.

I would suggest perhaps volunteering for the next Pagan Pride or event in your area, where you would have a chance to meet and work with the folks organizing it in a more personal manner. You can do some real good and have a better chance to meet people who appeal to you.
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« Reply #7: May 28, 2007, 02:13:29 am »

My identity is multifaceted, and being pagan is just a part of that. As I run into relatively few pagans and I don't believe that religious beliefs should affect dress, I wear what I want, and it's usually mainstream.

Gotcha -- religious beliefs sometimes do hold a reflection in the way a person chooses to dress, for various reasons... but I feel kind of like you describe; my identity is multifaceted  Cheesy 

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« Reply #8: May 28, 2007, 02:16:38 am »

Sometimes I help out in a pagan-y store a friend of mine owns.  The clientele is extremely diverse.  I have seen every type of person come in, from the ones dressed in business suits to the ones dressed "hippy" to the ones in basketball jerseys and tons of bling.  The one thing that is really obvious to me is that you really CAN'T judge someone's spirituality by their looks.

Moon Ivy ~ I will check out that topic you posted, thank you!

And -- I agree, you can't judge spirituality by looks, occasionally you can take a pretty good guess -- but many times... it's unfair to presume you really know at all!! 
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« Reply #9: May 28, 2007, 02:22:10 am »

I would suggest perhaps volunteering for the next Pagan Pride or event in your area, where you would have a chance to meet and work with the folks organizing it in a more personal manner. You can do some real good and have a better chance to meet people who appeal to you.

Hi Juniperr!

I hope I didn't come off sounding like I assumed all Pagans (or even a majority) were drug users  Shocked

It was simply one experience... just something I'm not interested in being a part of... I'm glad to hear some voices here expressing that there are indeed many "Average Jane Pagans".  I'll have to take a further look into what types of stores and/or events might be available in my area.  I'll be a bit hard pressed to find much, I think -- I have recently relocated to THE MOST rural town in America  Cheesy

However, there is a University about 30 miles away and surely something will turn up.

Thanks for the replies -- I'm off to check out the post Moon Ivy indicated may have some items related to this topic.

 Smiley
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« Reply #10: May 28, 2007, 03:38:44 am »

I want to feel comfortable with a "Pagan" friend that I know closely shares most of my beliefs... so that we have that in common -- but I'd like it if she just wore jeans... and if she didn't mind having a "trendy" haircut or taking in a charity benefit wearing a department store outfit instead of a robe  Grin

One of my favorite movies is High Fidelity with John Cusack. There's a scene in it where he says that when making connections with other people, it's not who you like, but what you like that counts. To a point, I tend to agree.

If I'm hearing you correctly, you're saying that you'd like to share something in common on top of religious beliefs. I'm going to say that I don't think there's anything wrong with that. Most of the people I'm friends with IRL like to shop at similar stores, watch a lot of the same kinds of movies and share the some of the same types of passions. If we didn't have some of that stuff in common we probably wouldn't be friends.

But that doesn't mean that I rule out someone who doesn't like to shop at Anthropologie or Pottery Barn as a friend. That would be rather silly and I know for a fact I would have missed out on some pretty good friends. And having the good friend is a lot more important than having someone to look fabulous with.

Just my $.02

Melanie
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« Reply #11: May 28, 2007, 03:52:02 am »

But that doesn't mean that I rule out someone who doesn't like to shop at Anthropologie or Pottery Barn as a friend. That would be rather silly and I know for a fact I would have missed out on some pretty good friends. And having the good friend is a lot more important than having someone to look fabulous with.

Excellent point!  I'd say that one of the closest people to me is a life long friend, and she and I have almost nothing in common anymore  Shocked  Doesn't matter though, considering she and I live 1000 miles apart -- we're there for each other, like sisters.  I certainly wouldn't write a person off because we didn't shop at the same stores... it's not about having someone to look good with, but more or less having someone to have fun with, enjoy things in common with, and maybe sometimes be able to have a philosophical/spirtual conversation with knowing that we "get" each other.
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« Reply #12: May 28, 2007, 08:53:51 am »


I hope that I have explained my thoughts in a non-offensive way here... I don't find a bit wrong with ritual, I just do not strive to be as "different as possible" -- that's my own comfort level... are there many Pagan individuals who just basically walk around behaving like the average joe yet take to heart their religious beliefs and history without wearing it on their sleeves in such an obvious manner?

Respectfully,
Dazzled 'n Frazzled



There have been lots of good answers give so far.

I suspect that part of the problem is "what is a pagan?"  (note, hot topic on this forum).  The Pagan community seems to have so few actual commonalities that all sorts are attracted to it. This has lead to the idea that almost anything should be accepted.

Clothing is one indicator. It's generally acceptable for people to come to pagan events and rituals dressed ways that would not be acceptable in other religious gatherings. Nor is there an unwritten dress code for the pagan community of what unique clothing is acceptable. For example, midieval fantasy (cloaks, robes, kilts, similar) might be unacceptable at many mainstread churches, but are normal at SCA events. (yeah, I know SCA isn't a church).  The pagan community wants to appear open and inclusive. So, not only are midival fantasy clothes accepted, so are Goth and just about any other subculture. (Hmm, wonder what the reaction would be to burkahs?)

Shared background is also an issue. If you go to Science Fiction conventions, you are expected to have read or watched a good deal of sci fi, fantasy, anime or role playing stuff.  Twenty years ago in New England, most of the pagans were college students, college grads or college bound. They were also widely read. I don't see that anymore here in the Norfolk, VA area. If you go to certain denominations of Protestant churchs, most of the members will come from a shared socio-economic / education / etc background. 

You also do not appear on the outside to be part of one of the major, visiable sub-groups. As Moon Ivy pointed out, sort of, there is a good chance that the hippy dressed people could actually share your interests.
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« Reply #13: May 28, 2007, 09:05:02 am »

Please allow me to explain.  For whatever reason, I'm a somewhat "traditional" person.  I have had jobs with companies and corporations and ran with the "yuppie" crowd in my town.  I enjoy benefits where you dress to the nines and drink champagne.  I don't need a lot of financial wealth, but I do enjoy participating in things that "high society" is drawn to.

There are Pagans like that, but most probably do not go to Pagan events because they are a minority. Most "traditional" people are probably "too traditional" to make a major change in religion, so naturally there are going to be fewer of them in most Pagan communities. But they are there, you just have to look for them.
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« Reply #14: May 28, 2007, 09:32:32 am »


I hope that I have explained my thoughts in a non-offensive way here... I don't find a bit wrong with ritual, I just do not strive to be as "different as possible" -- that's my own comfort level... are there many Pagan individuals who just basically walk around behaving like the average joe yet take to heart their religious beliefs and history without wearing it on their sleeves in such an obvious manner?

Respectfully,
Dazzled 'n Frazzled


I feel ya. 

I live in a community that is VERY image oriented, and very yuppie.  I'm here by the skin of my teeth, am house poor. 

My hubbs is a "normal" has no desire to make waves as being unusual in any way.  We live in a middle class, Midwestern town where he works in middle management for a utility. (Telecom)

I kind of have the opposite problem that you do.  Amongst all the soccer moms and social climbers I'm a freak show.  I'm well tattooed and have a thing for dressing oddly.  I have a tendency to be the super hippie by garb.  I'm accepted by the locals as 'artistic' and that granola tree hugger chick.  I'm also Californian in Texas, which as is causes people to think I'm strange. 

Ironically, on some levels I've got more stripes in my soccer mom belt than most of these gals around here.  I clean up well, and when the tattoos are covered and the hair combed I look up like good little PTA mom should.  I did my time in finishing school, learned to cross my legs like I have money and how to get out of a low vehicle without flashing.

I'm thinking some people are meant to walk the borders.  They gray lines where things aren't either or and be a bridge for those who have both feet firmly planted in one state of being.  Being able to walk on both sides of things and be understood by people from many backgrounds.

It takes self knowledge to be the gray.  To say I'm not this or that, I'm a bit of both and it falls in different proportions within me than in any other individual. 

To stop looking for the validation of a match, and to start creating bonds with harmonics and compliments who benefit and are strengthened by you being you, and being different. 

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I'm gonna tell my son to join a circus so that death is cheap
And games are just another way of life
And I'm gonna tell my son to be a prophet of mistakes
Because for every truth there are half a million lies
And I'm gonna lock my son up in a tower
Till he learns to let his hair down far enough to climb outside.
-LIz Pahir

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