What is crazy? How do you define it? If you search online, there are a number of definitions. Here are two:
adj. cra·zi·er, cra·zi·est
1. Affected with madness; insane.
2. Informal Departing from proportion or moderation, especially:
a. Possessed by enthusiasm or excitement: The crowd at the game went crazy.
b. Immoderately fond; infatuated: was crazy about boys.
c. Intensely involved or preoccupied: is crazy about cars and racing.
d. Foolish or impractical; senseless: a crazy scheme for making quick money.
Both definitions encompass pretty much all of the instances that we employ the term to describe. In the most extreme sense, to be “affected with madness”, which is defined as…
1. The quality or condition of being insane. See Synonyms at insanity.
2. Great folly: It was sheer madness to attempt the drive during a blizzard.
3. Fury; rage.
4. Enthusiasm; excitement.
…is the most extreme understanding of the word. There is something to be said for “acting a fool”, “roidin’ out” or just being “hype”, given certain conditions, I’m sure. But I think, when most people use it, they are really refering to the second definition of “crazy” and its multiple iterations, “…(to) depart(ing) from proportion or moderation.”
Proportion and moderation both refer to a deviation from the norm, the norm being the condional acceptability of an individual’s thoughts, words and actions within the context of societal mores, said society being inclusive of in and out groups, the overall culture and sub-cultures with all of their variability. In effect, anyone not inside of a particular grouping can be considered crazy, giving the narrow strictures applied by each cultural grouping pertaining to belonging or otherness. Exclusivity becomes, then, the norm, with each group maintaining and propagating mores proportionally and moderately, with the hierarchical structuring within the group cascading from the most normal to the least normal.
What lies beyond normality?
If – accepting the existence of dichotomy within the world in all of its perceptual manifestations – we employ the term crazyas pertaining to the majority of the people in the world, and normal as pertaining to a very distinct minority, is it fair to generalize by saying that most of the people in the world are crazy? Do you feel comfortable living in a world knowing that, given certain conditions – and the fact that, here in America, Americans move an average of 5 times during their lives – you will only come into contact with normal people a proportionally miniscule number of times during your lifetime, unless you go to extremes and ensconce yourself within a safe and comfortable geographic location – or type (read suburb or city) of location – where you only have contact with people like you? Or, where the contact that you do have with people unlike you is limited or controlled, and you are the person in the comfort zone, exerting dominant (sub)cultural or social power during any interactions?
It can be a sobering reality, if you allow it to sink in.
The realization that the very perception of normality that we, as a certain sub-group of a certain culture and population – can also be seen as our very wierdness by most of the other people in the world. Such an understanding may lead you to very uncomfortable realizations.
The first and most important of these is that what we usually define as “I”, “Me”, “Myself”, is often just a collection of habits and memories that are culturally specific and, therefore, crazy in someone else’s eyes and belief system.
Secondly, that by closing ourselves off from the experience of other cultural groups that we may come across during our lifetimes, we are relegating ourselves to a limited perceptual experience of life and, by extension, a true experience of the beauty and diversity of the human condition the world across.
And thirdly, that we become set in our ways and immutable, stuck in beliefs and understandings that have no real bearing upon our own lives, let alone the life of the world, and the mulitude residing therein.
Proportion and moderation have their place, that is certain.
The Middle Path is both stately and serene, a vehicle of understanding that can lead the seeker to a greater understanding of the outer, as well as inner, worlds. Being open to perspectives, understandings, other people’s ideas and beliefs, keeps the mind fresh and clear, allowing you to refresh your own ideas and beliefs, and perhaps to even change, if you deem it necessary, once you’ve been exposed to another viewpoint.
Would you rather be normal or crazy?
We spend lifetimes trying to “fit in”. But just because it’s easier to “fit in” with your own particular group of friends and acquaintances does not necessarily mean that “fitting in” is the only way to approach life and relationships with others. Often, by “fitting in”, we close off that innate curiosity that we’re born with, stultifying our intellectual and spiritual growth by taking on ideologies and belief systems that do not answer all of our questions. For the sake of “fitting in”, we may even stop asking those questions. To “fit in”, we may marry someone and live somewhere that we hate. To “fit in”, we may speak a certain way or do certain things that we detest.
We “fit in” to be normal.
When we commit to being totally and fully ourselves, we are, without a doubt, crazy. When we commit to approaching every one that we meet with an open mind, we are, without a doubt, crazy. When we commit to seeing the world anew every day, without preconception or condition, we are, without a doubt, crazy. And when we commit to seeing ourselves with new eyes, to giving up the old ideas that we each hold about ourselves, both good and bad, we are, without a doubt, crazy. Each and every one of us.
And yes, that means you too.