There are plenty of influential people. Speakers. Teachers. Artists. Many of them have high intelligence. Some of them conduct themselves in manners that comply with popular conventions. Others are a bit unusual. One who is at the extreme end of the latter might be described with the slang phrase “crazier than a shithouse rat.” I admire such a person.
I am drawn to people who are crazy. By crazy, I mean characterized as having personality traits or conventions that are highly strange. The exact mental capacities of such a person is irrelevant. They may or may not be diagnosed with clinical insanity; most of them probably are not. But I am attracted to the passion that drives their fringe behavior, their outspokenness. To me, they possess the ability to truly make people reconsider their beliefs and make change in the world.
Rock musician Ted Nugent dresses like a savage onstage at his concerts – loincloth, animal pelt and all. His home is on a large ranch, and he has wild animals brought in for him to hunt, clean, cook and eat. This is how he feeds his family. His right-leaning political ideals are so extreme that some people know him for his politics instead of his music. These characteristics are unusual. One might describe Ted Nugent in a casual conversation as being crazier than a shithouse rat. I admire him.
Late journalist Hunter S. Thompson wrote his articles with a style and voice that was unheard of – if inappropriate – for journalism. He took a bizarre (he preferred the term “gonzo”) point of view with every event he covered, and he was often influenced by massive amounts of mind-altering drugs. He would make sporting event stories sound like picaresque adventure novels with himself as the anti-hero. Until his death in 2005, many people considered him to be crazier than a shithouse rat. Many people admire him, including me.
It is the crazies that challenge the norm. It is the crazies that make change. They have a momentum with enough power to change the flow of mainstream thought. It is these people that I hold high in reverence, whose words and ways I prefer to study.
Therefore, I put into place “The Shithouse Rat Criteria:” if you want to be my mentor, to influence my thoughts and life, you must be crazier than a shithouse rat.