The Outliers

A 75 year old woman was born and raised in a small village, its population was barely 50 people. She never left that village, except to school in a slightly larger village, barely 4 kilometres away. She literally never left that village of 50. From the day she was born there, to the day I met her, when she was 75, she had not travelled to anywhere. I find this strange, because one of the world’s great, exciting, culturally rich cities is just over an hour’s drive from that village, on impeccable roads. I can’t imagine how she could resist the experience. She was a committed outlier, living in an outlying village.

One of the old woman’s neighbours was also an outlier. They’d known each other since childhood. The neighbour was a boy named Clayton Muggeridge. In the 1930s, when Clay was 15 years old, he built a sturdy sled with a wooden shed on it. He borrowed one of his father’s dray horses and harnessed it up to the shed. Forever after that, Clay filled the sled with the kids from the village and others along the farm roads and delivered everyone to the next village where the school stood. Winters were cold and snow was deep in that mountainous area.

Clay always did that job. When, in the 1950s, the board of education acquired a school bus for the county, Clayton Muggeridge became the driver, and did that job and that job only, until he was 79. Of course, he had his garden and his cows, but the school bus job made him a solid outlier. I don’t think he ever went to the nearby city either.

There is a couple in their sixties. They live in a village of 132 people. Both of the people in their marriage were born in this village, grew up in this village, married other people, and had children. In their later lives, they married each other and merged the adult children.

They live in the village, and they rarely leave the village, except to see doctors or shop. They are ignorant of all culture and art. Even though a major, world-class city is barely an hour away, they never go there. Perhaps they fear the world outside of the village. Their adult children also avoid the variations that life offers. Outliers fail to expand their horizons, therefore, they live limited lives.

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