I’m a hopeless transgressor. Mostly by "going beyond or overstepping some boundary or limit.", but sometimes too, by violating commandments, committing crimes "usually created by a social or economic boundary", violating norms. I want to "know" things – yes, in the Biblical sense – actively, physically, as much as possible. I learn by experience.
Sometimes it’s just dumb stuff, like when I was 15, sitting shotgun in someone’s ancient Oldsmobile, a guy in the back seat wanted to light a cigarette, but no-one had matches. I punched in the cigarette lighter. The driver said he didn’t think it worked. I popped it out, glanced inside, saw no glow in the coils and stuck my finger in, then jerked it out with a yell. The tip of my finger was branded with a fine-lined spiral that took days to fade. That didn’t surprise me, an idiot would know that was possible. What surprised me was the reaction of everyone else in the car – a gaggle of reckless nimrods who did hard drugs, drove drunk, broke and entered, stole cars.
"Fuck! Are you crazy girl?"
"Shit – she’s insane"
"What were you thinking?"
It wasn’t the risk they reacted to, it was just that it’s not done. There are lines you don’t cross.
Another time, at 18, I’m trying to turn on a floor lamp with a wobbly socket and a bulb that groans quietly but won’t illuminate. I want to know if electricity is flowing to the bulb, so I remove the bulb and stick my finger in. Slowly, lightly approaching the metal, not jabbing full-on contact. I yank it out as soon as I feel the charge jump from the metal to my finger. Again – my friends act like I’m a crazy person. My arm tingles and I see lightning bolts on the backs of my eyelids for several minutes. So what?
Raised with a proper disrespect for norms, I need to understand why a rule is a rule – just that it is, is not good enough. If it doesn’t make complete sense to me in the telling, I test it out first hand and make my own decision. In the end I am usually fairly compliant, (with an outsiders healthy respect for the need to adopt sometimes-repugnant norms – ‘when in Rome’ and all) but I need to make that choice myself, and especially when I was young, that often meant violating the norms to see how they work. But don’t get me wrong here, I don’t just break rules habitually, for the fun of it. It’s often just once, or at most, until I get a feel for why it exists.