I'm toasting the New Year four hours early here on the west coast. Might be asleep by midnight, wild and crazy 60-somethings that my wife and I are.
An ironic statement, albeit sort of true. And I'm wishing us more craziness in 2013. You too. May a crazy wind fill your sails and propel you into wonderfully strange lands.
The sort of crazy I'm wishing upon you, me, and everybody isn't pathological. It's life-enhancing, a fine madness (to borrow a thought from a movie title).
I got to thinking about how cool such craziness is after I finished a longboard land paddling session yesterday at Salem's Minto Brown Island Park. Land paddling became a passion for me in 2012. I've got a newspaper article to prove it.
Rolling up to my parked car, I got off my longboard, took off my backpack, and retrieved my iPhone from its innards. I clicked on the Runmeter app. I pressed "stop." I inspected the Runmeter statistics.
Skate time: 1:26:50
Distance: 7.21 miles
Average speed: 4.98 mph
Wow! New records!
The words not so crazy, not at all popped into my head.
When I revealed my intention to take up senior citizen skateboarding at the age of 63 back in July, the near-universal reaction from friends and family was...you're crazy. Which made me feel like I was on the right track.
Not because I seek to do crazy things. Because I've found that I enjoy doing things which tend to strike other people as crazy. Meaning, risky. Or not age-appropriate. Or unlikely to succeed.
So hearing "that's crazy" doesn't worry me. I'm much more worried about coming to the end of my life feeling like I haven't fully lived.
When I started practicing my longboarding on Minto Brown's trails, after sessions in a middle school parking lot, I ran into a youthful fellow longboarder and his father. After chatting with the boarder, he pushed himself away up a slope at a highly respectable speed.
The father said, "My son is really into this now. I'm glad. He's lost fifteen pounds and gotten away from gaming indoors. He rides five to seven miles at a time on his longboard."
Seven miles! I was amazed.
At the time I wasn't comfortable going more than a few hundred yards, though that was before I discovered the joys of Big Stick land paddling. I couldn't imagine pushing my way along seven freaking miles of up and down leaf/twig strewn Minto Brown Island Park trails on a longboard.
Yet yesterday I did just that, just a few months after I thought "I could never do that."
I didn't even set out to go seven miles. I just rode my Norgeboards Kalai farther than usual, because I was enjoying myself so much on a cold, dry, sunny Oregon winter day.
I cant remember ever feeling in better shape. At 64.
This is what craziness can do for you: make you a lot happier and healthier than you were before. Doing what feels good, what feels right, for you, maybe not for anybody else, but for you -- this is what makes life more than just living.
What that extra something is can't be put into words. You just feel it as the truest thing. For you.
I've got to say, though, that while doing your own thing crazily is a plus for individuals, it's a downer for the collective Us known as the political process. This was Fiscal Cliff Insanity Day. I followed the soap opera'ish ups and downs on my iPhone's Twitter feed.
Not pretty. Not encouraging. Not a good sign for our country's future.
I blame Republicans more than Obama and his fellow Democrats, but politicians on both sides share responsibility (albeit not equal) for letting their personal interests overshadow the national interest. When leaders are tasked with preventing pain to the collective known as the citizens of the United States, craziness is the last thing I want to see them engaging in.
Hopefully in 2013 our representatives in Washington will learn to keep their crazy confined to their personal lives, where it can be a very good thing, and act a lot more sane in their congressional guise.
Happy New Year! Have a crazy one!
(Here's more longboard inspired thoughts on living life crazily.)