(Our friend, Edward Bulwer-Lytton. Not the best quote, but I thought it fitting to begin with him!)
I did a dictionary hop before I wrote this proposal for my holiday, and I was aghast at how few definitions there are that embrace the uniqueness of eccentricism, rather than just say strange, unusual, abnormal. I agree, eccentrics are, but they tend to be going against the flow, not dancing naked in it.
I chose this definition from Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary as my favourite: “deviating from conventional or accepted usage or conduct especially in odd or whimsical ways.” Sounds much better than: “not of the usual or normal kind.”
The list of pejorative words is long – even the synonyms/related words are touchy: freakish; weird; bizarre; peculiar; atrocious; shocking. Though, I do like some of them: outré; phantasmagorical; quirky; unique.
The “odd” thing is a list of antonyms actually sounds boring, or ordinary. For example: unexceptional; unremarkable; run-of-the-mill; predictable; prosaic.
But why a day to celebrate all things eccentric? Everyone knows one: relative; teacher/professor; neighbour; co-worker/colleague; or maybe even friend. Eccentrics cross all socio-economic statuses, cultures and ethnicities.
In these days when conformity still is the norm, everyone seems to have a presence in social media, and a smart phone. People want to fit in to whatever crowd/clique/group they choose, or aspire to. Bullies, as every, target the unusual; the different; the outcasts/misfits (those who are put into that category at some point); the non-favourites.
So, why not look at eccentrics as rebels. As unique individualists. As remarkable people with incredible stories to tell. They usually (though not always*) are harmless, just non-mainstream in their approach to life. Sometimes they are ahead of the trend: recycling; repurposing; reusing before the “Rs” became part of common speech. They might even be disestablishmentarians! Not folks to be mocked, ridiculed, shunned or worse.
On Eccentrics day you could spend time with an eccentric; check on your eccentric neighbour; call your eccentric relative; act eccentric yourself. Embrace the unique;
the phantasmagorical; the quirky; the whimsical; the funky in yourself and others.
Eccentricism is hard-wired into my paternal DNA; no surprise I’m eccentric. Now, is creating a national holiday for/about/to myself egotistical?
* mentally unstable, mental illness are not the same as eccentricism; while the person with mental health issues may be eccentric, there is more going on that just being “different.”