defining ‘crazy’

He leaned up against my car, having meandered over across the riverside gravel lot with a bit of a swagger induced by a few too many sips of Fred, or perhaps the disgustingly creamy Heineken’s they’d bought as some sort of cruel joke, and enunciated, with an air of grave sincerity, “Don’t take this the right way… but you’re my kind of crazy.” Despite being a bit more than tipsy myself, I burst out laughing… I’m still not sure if that was or was not the ‘right’ way.

“They say the full moon makes you just a teeny bit crazy, especially out here in the woods,” he drawled in a low, conspirational tone, “Let’s wait, just one more hour, one more, and I bet we can see it…” And he was right, sitting on that log, legs wrapped around it, thighs tightened against the chill of the night, contemplating the river that coursed not far, but far enough down beneath us, we waited. The moon rose high enough for us to see it in the river valley, and suddenly the swirling eddies were recognizable patterns—mice chasing each other, an old man’s sheepish grin, spinning galaxies—perhaps the moon induced slight craziness afterall.

“It’s like moon-dazzle,” he mused, “I don’t mess with moon-dazzle. I don’t want no moon dazzle… moon dazzle means feelings, and desires. I don’t want none o’ those… Don’t you go moon-dazzlin’ me!” he teased, “That moon-dazzle sure is crazy.”

As I drove across the windswept lolling flatness of the sparsely populated expanse that is Nebraska, the temperature reading on my dashboard oscillating between -22 and 2 degrees, the moon’s brightness, near perfectly lined up with my westward route, sank towards the horizon as the hours crawled on. It’s brightness offered stark competition with the headlights of passing vehicles. The moon formed a near perfect semi-circle low in the frigid sky, illuminating little of the neighboring land except for the powdery snow-devils animated by the unrelenting bluster of the wind.

She thinks I’m crazy for doing this, my wonderful mother, that is. And this is nowhere near the first time she has believed me to be crazy. It is also, to be fair, not the first time I have done a crazy thing. But what does crazy actually mean? It is a word that I have been attributed often enough to spend time wondering at its elusive definition; not only in itself, as a word, but also what it means specifically to me. Am I crazy? Is that a good thing? A bad thing? Do I care? Does everyone (anyone) else?

In June of last summer, I decided to take a job in Arkansas for a few weeks before my job with the University commenced in mid-July. I decided on Sunday night around 11pm or so, that I was definitely going. I left Monday morning. “crazy.”

In January of last year, following a painful break-off with an on again, off-again, relationship with a struggled-to-be-defined, definitely-not-my-partner human, I left for the White Mountains aching to feel the burn of the winter wind, hills, and numbness of the cold. We left central PA around 10pm, and I slid into Conway around 8:30am the following morning, the snow falling thickly & obscuring the purple mountains on the horizon. I finished revising the graduate studies application paper I’d been struggling to write amidst checking the summit conditions and rehashing gear lists the week before, and had rewritten via dictation to my friend during a fair bit of the drive to NH in a coffee shop in town, and hit the submit button 15hrs after the application deadline. The final words of my essay? “I’m off to embrace the experience; happy trails!” 48 hours later we had spent a marvelous night readying gear by headlamp & woodstove light in a teepee two and a half snowshoe-d miles into the western Maine woods, indulged in a mélange of delicious New England brews, and been the highest people on Mt Washington, in a full on squall with gusts of wind strong enough to nearly knock us off the mountain, turning around just .15 miles short of the summit due to avy risk. “crazy.”

In April, following another interaction with the same human, and in response to a convenient desire of many of my friends to enjoy brunch at a local brewery, I left at 4:30 in the morning, and met them there, 27 miles & 5.25 hours later. The longest I’d run before that was a scant 9 miles, and I’d ran maybe twice in the two months preceding the marathon.. it’s amazing what one will do for a local beer-cream-float. “crazy.”

What makes something crazy? To be out of one’s mind, to unhinge the doors & windows that so often keep us from exploring with reckless abandon? To be wildly, passionately, intensely enthusiastic? To be devotedly enamored with?  …perhaps crazy is not as negative as the colloquial connotation seems to suggest.

And perhaps, since the moon is only half-way dazzling my current westward path, this particular journey is only halfway crazy, for now. And regardless, I’m taking this sort of crazy, my sort of crazy, in all of the right ways.

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