With fringe festivals about to take place across the county, perhaps now is the time to start living on the fringe – to live authentically, writes Bernie Rowen-Ross.

Here in East Lothian, we have seen advertisements for Fringe by the Sea. So many of us will experience the shows and events that Fringe by the Sea offers; it is a wonderful time to be in East Lothian! 

This set me thinking about the word fringe. The Webster online dictionary has quite a few definitions. Finge as we know it for hair, cut over the forehead. Edging to a scarf that weavers often make, part of the warp threads.

Being on the fringe is often described as being on the edge of something. Living on the fringe of the town is in the last street of the town. Living on the fringe of society, well, who are these people? What do we do? People who live on the fringe are often viewed as eccentric. But do we really know what eccentric living is? It is deviating from the established pattern.

About 30 years ago, my mother asked me when I would get a ‘real job’. What she meant was, when was I going to get into my car and go to an office or bank to work. I was and still am a consulting psychotherapist, and other than a short stint in hiring session rooms, I have always seen clients either on zoom or the equivalent or in my private consulting rooms attached to my home. Nowadays we are used to working from home, it is the new norm, but 30 years ago it was considered fringe or eccentric.

In western society, there are unwritten codes of practice based on good manners and even perhaps the holy books of our society; the Bible, the Vedas and the Talmud and Torah as well as the Quran. Writings of ancient history suggest that women cover their heads in many of these books. Yet, in some parts of the Amazon Forest, it is entirely acceptable for women to wear grass skirts and headdresses and walk around topless; if women did that here, they would be charged with public indecency. Oh… don’t get me started on what is considered decent and what isn’t! That is a whole different debate.

In Tibet some years ago, the doctor I was helping kept sticking his tongue out at me. I thought this quite disrespectful; after all, I had been brought up to understand that sticking your tongue out to someone is rude. However, after a while and some acute embarrassment, the translator explained this gesture was actually a mark of respect (whew!).

Back to the fringe. If you are an adult and feel like expressing yourself slightly differently – you would like to take a walk on the wild side or on the fringe. If this means expressing your authentic self a little differently, then go right ahead – if it is within the law, who will stop you? Sometimes it takes a brave step not to try to fit in with society. The great thinkers like CG Jung certainly didn’t try to keep in sync with society; look at the Beatles, they did something different, and it changed the face of popular music. Steve Jobs, the founder of Apple computers, was eccentric, as was Freda Kahlo, the great artist Salvador Dali, Freddy Mercury and Leonard Cohen. I could go on, but these people stepped out of the expected mould, and their presence on the planet changed how people view society. Individuation is an exciting journey, and it is often the ‘different’ people who make an impact, which is healthy. Otherwise, we would not have evolved into the exciting human race we are. 

Bernie Rowen-Ross is an Ayurvedic Counsellor and Psychotherapist, she consults via Zoom
t: 01620 844 321 | www.ayurveda-balance.uk