Friday, February 26, 2010

Waiting For the Crazies

I can’t quote Billy Currington’s song here because I don’t necessarily believe in a god and I definitely don’t drink beer. But one thing is absolutely true.

People are crazy.

Every last one of them. (Yeah. Including me.)

In some way, to some extent everyone is somehow a little bit crazy.

Whether you’re dating someone new or considering a business partnership it is very, very important to know a person long enough to find out in what way(s) they are crazy and how badly before you commit yourself to a legal binding contract with them.

Crazy isn’t always necessarily a bad thing.

Some people are strange on purpose. They usually make a career out of their eccentricities and it pays really well. Maybe they’re just working the oddities of their natural personality or amping up coping skills they developed as insulation against their early life experiences.

Other people are just extremely unique in how they think, act or look and people are drawn to them for reasons of fascination, for entertainment or enlightenment.

Socrates come to mind. (Aristotle is another.) This philosopher was one of the greatest thinkers of his era. And I assure you, the vast majority of people who were unable to understand him or unwilling to suspend disbelieve to take in his radical ideas- considered him stark raving mad. Ultimately his uniqueness cost him his life. He was judged by a trial that found him guilty of "corrupting the minds of the youth" with his radical ideas and philosophies, and guilty of "not believing in the gods". His sentence? Death by poison.

Very creative and gifted people tend to become famous for those very abilities that caused or at least contributed to them becoming crazy.

It would be impossible to overlook the deeply artistic but mentally self tortured individual Vincent van Gogh. His style of painting may have influenced his peers and every generation afterwords, but his name is practically synonymous with whatever creative gene that causes a person to self mutilate.

Shakespeare is another case of brilliance teetering precariously on the perch of “somewhat bazaar”. No one can argue with the clever way he crafted angry religious and political satire into flowing ribbons of eloquence. But along with great wit and talent he exhibited some very disturbing behavior in some of his writings.

And then there are some people who are for whatever reason just not right in the head. They do extreme things either to gain attention or to differentiate themselves from others perhaps to visually ostracize themselves to mirror the way they already feel emotionally and socially ostracized. They’re generally considered “social deviants”. It's no longer politically correct to state the obvious, but the fact is, normal, well adjusted people do not feel the need to call THIS much attention to themselves 24/7 by the entire world.

The fear with these kinds of people is that their craziness doesn't just stop at their physical appearance. A perfect example are people like Jeffrey Dahmer who are normal in appearance but clearly disturbed in every other possible way.

The average person though isn’t quite as extreme as any of these examples. They just have small quirks and personality ticks that make them funny or familiar to some and irritating and strange to others.

Ultimately though, most people get to know another person slowly and over the course of time. People reveal themselves a conversation at a time. Evidence of their character comes through a series of actions, verbalized opinions and personal choices. And unless a person is overtly “in your face” about who they are or exhibit frequent and vicious mood swings which would be hard to hide, most people faults and crazies can remain hidden for upwards of months.

And so it’s wise to wait. Allow time and situations as they present themselves construct a clearer picture of the person you’re getting to know. And it will come out eventually. Then you can decide if their version of crazy and the level of their craziness is something you're prepared to deal with.

Because as we can all agree:

Everyone is a little crazy.

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