We are the compulsives. The chameleons. The deluded. The wounded.
Addicts. Bigots. Enablers. Aggressors.
Gossips. Accommodaters. Over-sharers. Fixers.
We are the guarded. And the stuck.
We are passive. People-pleasers. Avoiders. Myopic.
We envy. We compete. We keep secrets. We give up.
Liars. Caretakers. Impulsives. Fanatics.
Re-enactors of traumatic events.
Prisoners of mindsets we refuse to reject.
We are the contemptuous. And the flatterers.
The rescuers. And the backstabbers.
We are erratic. Melodramatic. Impression managers. Self-saboteurs.
Depressed. Anxious. Needy. Listless.
Narcissists. Pessimists. Illusionists. Idealists.
We have hair triggers. We keep secrets.
We stay in situations that are killing us. And vanish when things get tough. And manipulate so others will stay.
Or save us. Or pity us. Or leave first.
We are procrastinators. We are perfectionists.
We are the crazy.
And we are everywhere. In every neighborhood, workplace, and school. On every plane and train. In every supermarket. At every intersection. Behind every door.
You, of course, are one of us. You may feel that you, uniquely cuckoo, stand apart. Sorry, Sweetheart. Credit or curse, you belong to this lunatic tribe.
More often than not, we wear our dysfunctions out in plain sight. It’s easy to identify the hassles our conditions cause. Even more tangled patterns hide in the caverns below where they double-double-toil-and-trouble up a deeper mayhem.
Look around at your co-workers, your family members, your friends. Notice that each is just a variation on a theme. You could catalog the issues of dozens and barely break a sweat.
But let’s not do that. Let’s instead turn to the next page.
Where we compile the other list.
Through this morass of fear and hurt, of buried rage and patent irrationality, we somehow still make good. We do lovely work. We raise children. Care for our fellow humans. Even roiling in a cauldron of crazy, we come together to run organizations that serve a greater purpose. We build, learn, teach. We give, sing, play. We write stories and plant gardens. We make homes and friends.
We love people.
It sometimes happens that people love us.
This doesn’t let us off the hook, of course. We still have to mitigate the damage we cause clomping around in our oversized pathologies. We have to check our impact. If we’re really going to live well in this world – not perfectly, not exceptionally, just well – we will try to unravel our tangled ways. Examine them. Even rise above them.
We may go so far as to replace them with more effective habits of mind and behavior.
While we work on that, let’s watch our step around the fantasy of enlightenment. The unattainable ideal can trip us up. Our job is not to emerge reborn as some pure incarnation of human possibility. Our job is to develop achievable, sustainable ways of moving through our days. We can aim for kindness – to others, of course, and certainly to ourselves – and for a willingness to learn and adapt.
We can serve as ambassadors of acceptance.
We can remember that each person has a story, and that each choice is particular to that story alone. The circumstances of others are not ours to dissect. Their paths not ours to judge. Everyone has had to navigate with the supplies on hand. All CrazyTown natives know that the tools assigned early were ill-suited to the tasks required for growing up. So they duct-taped and jury rigged, they appropriated and improvised.
The very fact that they – we – made it this far means that they – we – have mastered skills often not valued or even visible.
Every pattern is a survival technique. Our existence is a celebration of resilience.
So let’s make it our job to advocate for a community of welcome. Let’s notice that every hurtful or ineffective habit shares quarters with virtue. Creativity lives there too, as does strength. Let’s cultivate more of the good stuff by showing up as we are, then doing the best we can when we arrive. And let’s remember that “our best” includes extending the invitation to our compatriots from CrazyTown. Because everyone here has at least one way to shine.
Image: Chrissy Foreman Cranich, Begin Within