I knew something was strange when I saw a food scale on our kitchen counter. Micah informed me he had enrolled himself in a hydration study through the University of Wyoming. His participation in the study meant he was given limited quantities of water to drink each day. It also required he track and weigh his food.
"How long does it last?"
It seemed cumbersome, but it was his burden not mine. That is, until we went to a friend's graduation party.
"You're bringing that?!" Micah was carrying a red plastic container that resembled a gas can. He collected his urine in it.
"I have to."
"You're not taking it into the house!"
"Fine, I'll keep it in the car. But if I go to the bathroom I have to use it."
And so we drove to the home of our friend's doctoral supervisor. There a crowd of academics and their children gathered around a kitchen island covered in a buffet of homemade foods and curated wines. There was even a cake in the shape of a volcano (our friend had completed her Ph.D. in volcanology). The red plastic container did make an appearance later in the evening. Mercifully, I did not see it. Nor, thank God, did anyone else. (A lucky thing, because as we were getting into the car to leave, Micah realized he had left his container behind.)
Now that the hydration study is long past, my tune has changed. I admire Micah for his willingness to follow through no matter what the study asked of him. There's something inspiring about doing whatever it takes in the name of science, or our passions. I can't say I would have had the fortitude.
I often feel like the guy who shows up to a party carrying a container of his own urine. My spirituality and ideas don't fit neatly into socially acceptable categories. And I'm loathe to make a spectacle of myself. But then I read about how there came a point in John Muir's life when he felt he had to change his ideas in order to attract followers. He stopped embracing a concept of wilderness in favor of a "wild garden" to make people more receptive to his message. Even his friend Ralph Waldo Emerson, the famous transcendentalist, advised Muir that he should become more civilized. Muir was born to be feral. Yet he tamed parts of himself because he saw no other way. No good can come of making ourselves acceptable. No good at all.
We are nearer to the divine when we embrace the things that make us strange. If we want to know what gifts we have to offer the world we should look for the unusual and the odd. It's all about embracing the part of us that is just peculiar enough to be magical. It may be your art, your ideas, or your love of volcanoes. Whatever it is, it's sacred because it's all yours.