"You're crazy." When people say that to me, or when I say it to myself, I realize that we're not talking about clinical craziness.
I'm in touch with reality. I can relate to people appropriately. I don't hear voices inside my head, other than the usual chattering of my own mind (a topic I wrote about on my other blog).
No, the sort of crazy being referred to is different. It's main quality, I'd say, is an imbalance that doesn't make sense to other people. And sometimes to myself. For example...
Today I did some major mowing. We have a large yard in rural south Salem. We also have ten acres of left-natural land extending beyond that large yard. In short, we have a maintenance nightmare.
Not only a non-easy care yard -- the rest of our property has trails that need to be kept clear, blackberries and poison oak requiring spraying, trees that regularly fall down or drop limbs in inconvenient places. We're each 65 years old (me now; Laurel in a few weeks).
Handling my large self-propelled DR mower this afternoon, spending more than an hour cutting tall grass in both our lawn and walking trails, I kept thinking "This is crazy." I often think that when doing chores on our property.
Other senior citizens head to condos or small houses at our age.
They don't spend nearly as much time as we do on home and yard maintenance. (My wife's current garden battle is with an unusually large infestation of voles, small burrowing creatures who are a pain to deal with.)
But recently I've come to a different realization of what someone saying "You're crazy" often means: You're different. Meaning, you have a way of looking at the world that is so unlike mine, I can't understand how what you're doing makes sense.
This puts a whole other spin on those two words. Mowing away today, I realized that I enjoy taking care of our ten acres as much or more than I dislike it.
I feel like I've been married to our property so long, we've established a relationship like many old couples have: outwardly caustic, inwardly loving.
You know, like when the wife says "Oscar is a goddamn pain in the butt; he drives me crazy; I should have married my boyfriend in high school rather than this old coot; I've been able to live with Oscar for fifty years but now I'm praying the Good Lord will take me so I don't have to listen to his snoring any more."
So, yeah, it's crazy for us to keep driving ourselves, um, crazy by keeping on doing what we have to do on our property. Yet for now we wouldn't have it any other way. Still, I can completely understand why other senior citizens chuck it in and head for some sort of Retirement Village.
However, they are them and we are us.
I've come to look upon "You're crazy" as a compliment -- whether someone else is saying that to me, or I'm telling that to myself. I heard that when I decided to start riding a big Burgman 650 maxi-scooter. Also, when I decided to sell the Burgman and get a skateboard (at the age of 63). Both turned out to be excellent decisions.
Again, for me. Not for anybody else. My risk-reward balance calculation, which smartly led me to take up these activities, was uniquely mine.
In my most recent Strange Up Salem column in our alternative paper, Salem Weekly, I talked about the good side of crazy in "Congrats, crazy city council candidates." Excerpt:
Crazy thing to do. Yet they did it. Why?
Because when craziness feels so right, it’s the only path to pursue. When I hear, “You’re crazy,” this often is a sign I’m on the Robert Frost’ish road less traveled that leads to the pleasurable place of No Regrets.
Life is most emphatically lived on the uncrowded edge. Here change happens, growth occurs, tipping points are reached.
Absolutely. I agree with myself!
When I feel that I'm completely sane, that's when I'm going to really worry about my mental health. Embracing craziness makes life much more livable for me. If I don't expect that life will make sense, I'm never disappointed.
Then whatever happens, no matter how crazy it seems, becomes an object of admiration rather of worry. I can marvel at the crazy rather than shun it.