There’s a race of men that don’t fit in,
A race that can’t stay still;
So they break the hearts of kith and kin,
And they roam the world at will.
They range the field and they rove the flood,
And they climb the mountain’s crest;
Theirs is the curse of the gypsy blood,
And they don’t know how to rest.

If they just went straight they might go far;
They are strong and brave and true;
But they’re always tired of the things that are,
And they want the strange and new.
They say: “Could I find my proper groove,
What a deep mark I would make!”
So they chop and change, and each fresh move
Is only a fresh mistake.

And each forgets, as he strips and runs
With a brilliant, fitful pace,
It’s the steady, quiet, plodding ones
Who win in the lifelong race.
And each forgets that his youth has fled,
Forgets that his prime is past,
Till he stands one day, with a hope that’s dead,
In the glare of the truth at last.

He has failed, he has failed; he has missed his chance;
He has just done things by half.
Life’s been a jolly good joke on him,
And now is the time to laugh.
Ha, ha! He is one of the Legion Lost;
He was never meant to win;
He’s a rolling stone, and it’s bred in the bone;
He’s a man who won’t fit in.

Robert Service – 1874 – 1958

I’ve loved this poem, ever since the day I found it in the Collected Works of Robert Service.  Granted, it was written in the late 1890’s, over 100 years ago, it still applies today…at least, it still applies to me, cautious gypsy that I am. I haven’t traveled beyond the North American continent, but I too, have not done such a great job of fitting in, just ask all my exes.

I’ve always been somewhat of an oddball, living the glorious oddball life.  In the past thirty years, I’ve had one job where I had to clock in and out. I’ve always done things my way; living in some of the weirdest places imaginable.  For example, I lived in a house truck for three years, partly parked off the Venice canals.  I lived in a converted gardening shed for a few years. You’d think I’d end up living on a boat, but that hasn’t happened…yet.

All my dreams have been of oddball things: I always wanted to drive the Al-Can Highway, but with gas prices nowadays, I’d have to be rich or sponsored to do it and I don’t see that happening anytime soon.  I’ve always wanted drive from Cape Agulhas  (South Africa) up the eastern side of the continent to Port Said (Egypt). Again, not real likely in this day of universal hatred for all things American.  I used to dream of living on a scow and plying the waters off Catalina as a marine handyman (I settled for the land-based trade instead).

But what have I done?  Somewhere along the line I fell in with a group of folks who were of a creative bent. And I ricocheted down the trail until I reached this place where I can count many, many poets and writers and even some musicians and a few painters as friends & acquaintances (and even a few enemies).  I’ve tried to find a gang to hang with but it has never worked or lasted long.  Seems I am easier to deal with from a distance.

I can live with that. It’s easier now, as I ease into my 6th decade, like an old man easing into a tub of hot water; sure it’s uncomfortable at first, but you know it’s going to get better very soon.  I sure hope so.


6 Responses to “THE MEN THAT DON’T FIT IN”

  1. Father Luke Says:

    Welcome to the oddball club, dog. But I do want to point out that after
    slowly easing into the tub of hot water, it’s ever harder making yourself
    climb out once it goes cold. Everything changes.

    In the meantime, I’ll leave you to your bath.

    And thanks. Keep writing.

    – –
    Father Luke

  2. Hey,buddy!

    Things are slow going for me in Word press,sigh..
    I finally figured out how to add yours,my guy Alan King’s,and Helen Losee from Dead Mule!
    It’s driving a bit nutty as to subscriptions,but at least i got you guys in my
    blogs on the inside tip to catch..yowsa!
    You’d think I’d never touched a keypad in my life,anyhow–glad to grope ya.great posts,Raindog,as always.



  3. after my divorce at 51 I lived one winter in an oakwooden scow.
    Cold, very cold.

    Then I landed in Asia; cambodia. laos, chiangmai.

    And quess here an old man with social securities can live good.

  4. Wayne Bogue Says:

    Thanks, fellow gypsy. I, too, have lived a wandering kind of life. A number of career paths, lots of education but never settled, a perpetual searcher. I found this poem back in the late 70’s. When I read it, I understood it immediately. That hasn’t changed. I just can’t seem to conform to a “regular” life. No interest. I have the credentials (doctorate) but none of that matters much, really. Thanks again!

  5. I too have lived an oddball life, I am in my early 40s and have had 60+ jobs, lived in 4 countries, lost and won and lost again and somehow found the strength to get up. Battled with addiction and destructive relationships. Within the chaos that has been my life I have managed to be qualified to post graduate level, accumulate 10 years of private pension, bought a house and developed something near to a career. My heart is always telling me to run to something new – that my ‘groove’ will be found there – but my head, or maybe the haunting conscience of my parents, has always kept me with one foot on the straighter path. Although it seems to be a life of dichotomy, I will be glad when I am older to have managed the periods of normality that I have. This is a poem that I should read everyday.

    And each forgets that his youth has fled,
    Forgets that his prime is past,
    Till he stands one day, with a hope that’s dead,
    In the glare of the truth at last.

  6. Jim Smith Says:

    I have itchy feet as well, never could stand to stay in one place for very long. Relationships take the brunt of it, not by their fault, but it just seems I’m not designed to give them what they want. I’m starting to accept that about myself and I don’t believe the quiet plodders win the race. Who’s judging the results? I’m not judging those who retire in their home town after 40yrs at company X. That works for them, something else works for me. If you follow the course bred in your bone, have you really failed?

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