Crazy is a word I’ve used for a long time, I guess. It’s kind of become a catch-all; a filler. Everyone fits it at some point, don’t they?
My sixth grade math teacher was crazy, especially when he’d sing a math equation to the tune of Benny and the Jets. My mom was crazy when she signed me up for tennis lessons (doesn’t she know coordination isn’t genetic?). My college roommate once took a month-old potato, drew a face on it, and named it “Gus the Spud”, and we laughed and called her crazy.
The Spice Girls are crazy, roller coasters are crazy, flying is crazy (you are strapping yourself into a tin can and catapulting yourself into the air).
There’s another kind of crazy, too. There’s the out of control, I’m-a-mess, don’t-know-what-else-to-call-it-so-we’ll-call-it-crazy-kind.
I’ve long been familiar with the first kind of crazy- dance parties, youth group contests involving some sort of weird food, and Moulin Rouge.
The second kind of crazy is a little more new to me.
The summer after I graduated from college, with my brand new Ford Fiesta packed to the brim, I carried my newly engaged self twelve hours away from home for a new adventure in the City of Oaks. I worked more than one job, took grad school classes, and volunteered out my ears, all the while trying to learn grown up things like how to change my oil and how not to cry when I overdrew my checking account.
I was shaky in the sunshine, with all this newness. But then the wind blew stronger, and I felt like I needed weights to hold me down. By midyear, I was dealing with death, with loneliness, with a frustration and discontent I never thought myself capable of. I was planning a wedding that never seemed to come, scrappily preparing for a marriage with a man I could only reach by phone. I tried to hide it, to ignore it, to view a day as a day and not a long stretch of obstacles.
And then, out seeped the crazy.
I started doing things I’ve never done. I started crying in the car on the way to work, the way to class, the way to volunteering. I started hanging up on Andrew when I got mad, only to call him back five minutes later, laughing like it was really funny and I didn’t care. I started pulling my car over to the side of the road in random places to read a book, because I felt like my world was spinning out of control and I just needed to put it on pause for a while. I started escaping into the sterile halls of Target and JoAnn’s, started listening to Spanish radio because the words didn’t weigh as much, started singing out loud to myself in the parking lot to curb an oncoming panic attack.
And I laughed it off and called it crazy. It was, right?
Today, I’m still working more than one job, still traveling almost every weekend, still living in a new place and preparing for yet another transition. And now I’m married to that man who for so long was just a voice on the phone, but in person, my communication can still be rough at best. And still, today, when I feel out of control and act out of control, I laugh and call it crazy. It is, right?
And when I meet with friends, we laugh and share stories about how he’s crazy or she’s crazy, and any time someone does or says something one of us don’t like, we shrug it off and call them crazy.
And secretly, each of us is a little bit relieved, because we’ve put all the world’s pain and problems under the label of crazy, so there is no need for further justification or explanation.
Because we are crazy, aren’t we?
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about that year I spent in Raleigh. Looking back on it now, I can call it a lot of things, but it makes me wince to think about how casually I called it “crazy”. It was an exciting, fulfilling, lonely and unpredictable year I’d do all over again. And I was a scared twenty two year old dealing with some very new and grown up problems and feelings, and didn’t always know how to handle myself. I called it crazy to avoid having to really explore what I was feeling; to hide from the nagging suspicion that the way I was acting and the things that were happening were not what I wanted and I didn’t know how to fix them.
Today, I call myself crazy when I cry, when I get angry, when I laugh too hard, when we’ve been driving too long and I beg Andrew to pull over right now because I really need the bathroom- any time I feel any emotion that seems somewhere out of the spectrum of “normal”.
Likewise, if anyone else acts in a way that doesn’t fit into the way I want them to act, I call them crazy. I guess that has made everyone and thing under the sun crazy at one point or another.
But the thing is that there are reasons behind the emotions and situations that make us “crazy”. And if life is precious, and today is precious, then also each of those emotions are also, and shouldn’t be ignored because there is something behind them. And unless we stop calling it crazy and dig to the root of the source of these emotions and feelings, we’ll never grow or change.
We’ll just be stuck in a constant cycle of crazy.
I was a lot of things last year, but crazy, I’m seeing, wasn’t one of them. Today, we might be overjoyed or discontent, frustrated or unusually at peace, tired or moody or just plain mad, but we are not crazy. We are real people with real feelings and real reasons behind them.
I wonder what we would find if we could stop shortchanging ourselves as crazy and could start digging for the reasons feeding the feelings. I wonder how we’d change or grow, what we’d learn about ourselves, about each other.
Maybe that we are loved, we are designed, we are being made new.
That maybe, there’s more to us than crazy.