People keep calling me amazing lately. I’m starting to suspect it’s a polite way of saying “completely insane”, because it’s usually in the context of one of my crazier exploits, like travelling over 12,000km (and back) for the weekend, or becoming a high school teacher. I seem to have been specialising in acts of extreme lunacy recently, but it has an upside.
I think craziness has an image problem. It gets a bad rap, but there’s a lot to be said for it, judiciously applied. For a start the therapeutic value of going completely nuts is undeniable. The craziest times of my life have been some of the happiest and most rejuvenating. Like the times I sing and dance in public places with my kids – and let’s be perfectly honest here, the kids are just an excuse – my cover story. I’d sing anyway.
Boom boom, ain’t it great to be craaazy?
Boom boom, ain’t it great to be craaaazy?
Giddy, and foolish the whole day through.
Boom boom, ain’t it great to be crazy?
Last week I went to California (from Melbourne, Australia), for the weekend. A very close friend was getting married, and there were many reasons why I couldn’t go for an extended visit, but the friendship is so important to me that I had to be there for the wedding. I was a little daunted by the idea – worried that the jetlag would be brutal, that my kids would pine for me, and that making the trip on my own would be difficult and hazardous to my health. I spent most of the preceding week wondering just how crazy I really was.
In the end the kids hardly noticed my absence (I’d like to put it on the public record that my husband is a saint and a miracle worker). I wasn’t really there long enough for jetlag to be an issue (with all the late nights, I didn’t bother to switch time zones). Various friends helped to make the potentially difficult bits of the trip trivially easy.
I got to be a part of a spectacularly lovely wedding, and I met a lot of wonderful people. I caught up with old friends, and made new ones who immediately felt like old friends. Although I came home exhausted beyond belief, in some strange way the weekend also recharged my batteries in a way I desperately needed.
Everybody says sit down sit down
Everybody says sit down sit down
But I can’t sit down, no I can’t sit down
‘cos my feet are full of dance around
We’re very quick to label non-standard behaviour crazy. Singing in public. Riding a bicycle in the rain. Mowing the lawn with a hand mower, instead of a power mower of some kind. Talking to random strangers on the train. As a society, we are very invested in the status quo. Yet it’s breaking out and going a little crazy – whether it’s travelling huge distances to be with friends, acting like a child, or testing your limits – that can remind you of what’s important. Paradoxically, it’s flying that can ground you, and help you grow.
It’s no coincidence that the verses I’ve used to illustrate this piece are both from children’s songs. Kids are good at crazy. They intuitively know the value of silly. As adults, we are very good at squashing that instinct. “Don’t be silly” must be one of parenting’s most repeated phrases. I suspect it’s really bad advice.
Being silly is crucial. In fact, the sillier I am, the easier parenting gets, and the more relaxed our whole household becomes. Silly helps at work, too, for waking up my students, and defusing difficult situations. Silliness is an incredibly effective tool – there should be more of it. We all need more silliness in our lives, to help us lighten up, to help us live.
My weekend could have been crazier – I just asked google for directions from my house to California. Among the directions was the instruction “Kayak across the Pacific Ocean” – 3 times. Perhaps there should be limits to craziness. But I suspect we could all do with some more insanity in our lives.
Give it a try sometime. Go a little crazy. You might just enjoy it.