The Fine Line of Crazy


I recently walked past a man sitting on the side of the street talking to himself. He was speaking loudly, with great emotion, and every few sentences the topic of his soliloquy seemed to change dramatically.

In one moment, he seemed to be ranting about a woman: “And who does she think she is?! You don’t talk to me like that! Don’t you ever dare talk to me like that!”

In the next moment, something work related: “Ok that’s why you hired me, but that’s not why I took this bulls%&$ job. I don’t care what you think. You don’t care about me!”

It’s not uncommon to refer to someone like this as “crazy.” But what is it, exactly, that makes us think this person is “crazy?” It’s three things: first, they’re talking to themselves. Second, they’re emotionally unstable. And third, they’re speaking a kind of nonsensical stream of consciousness.

But isn’t this our state? Isn’t this what we do all day every day? Don’t we walk around talking to ourselves? Aren’t we constantly being emotionally triggered by the world around us? Isn’t our stream of consciousness a kind of wild, kaleidoscopic cacophony of chaos?

What would it sound like if you were to verbalize every thought that comes through your mind today? Would you sound sane?

The only difference between that man and the rest of us, is that he’s verbalizing the words in his head.

It’s a blessing that those people are out there, because they allow us to have a direct experience of the psychological state of the modern mind — yours and mine. And if we have the courage to listen, we just might be shaken enough to wake up to the cold, hard truth that we — yes we! — are the crazy ones.

The sooner we can come to see this, the sooner we can begin to put in the work needed to nurture in here the peace that we so desperate seek out there.

By Ryan Paugh

Hi there!

With decades spent exploring the outer world and the inner world, I share some of the insights I have learned along the way.

Topics include mindfulness, spirituality, growth, perspective, and career.

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