“As I got older and lived my life the way I did, I found that many people simply dismissed me as crazy. I didn’t take offence to this. In fact, I welcomed it. Once you were put in the ‘crazy box’, then you were free to just live life how you wanted, without having to answer or adhere to social norms. Ultimately people’s realities needed to be reinforced, and labelling people who saw things differently to them as ‘crazy’ was one way to do this. But those people didn’t understand just how fragile those realities were. Once the sane people believed the earth was flat; once the sane people burned women on the stake for being witches; once the sane people enslaved other humans thinking they were nothing more than their property. Sanity was just the dominant cultural viewpoint at the current moment – a collective hallucination that had about as much solid substance as the wind. Often I looked at the sane people of the world and felt sorry for them in a way. Did they not know how limited and constricted their reality was? Did they not know what wonders awaited them beyond the fences of conventional thinking? The sight of a completely sane person made me sad, and I hoped everyone was fortunate enough to lose their mind at least once in their life.”
“I guess it was true that I wasn’t the complete package any more – that I was genuinely crazy, and not really in the good way. The more I stared into those morning mirrors of realisation, the more I saw the sanity slowly fading from my eyes. The effects of the last years of bohemian adventure had left me permanently scratched and scarred. I had madness stained into my brain and chaos seared into my soul. I was increasingly hard to relate to. Simple tasks of convention and expectation made me spirit shudder. At any point I assumed I could just stop to reduce the damage, but I started to realise that the return to the farm of sanity was becoming an impossible task. I had wandered too far and lost sight of it. I walked the streets like an alien on interstellar safari. I had shifted my life to live in a world that wasn’t accessible to anyone else. I couldn’t quite explain it to myself or others, but for some reason I had to keep moving forward into the mess and madness. I was enticed, entranced – bewitched by something bigger than myself. There was something out there that called me forward. And though sometimes it was painful, I felt alive – more alive than any life of comfort and ease could ever offer.
So please, know that I live in my own world now. I roam the wild woods in my mind and feast off the carcass of my own madness. My feet move fearlessly along the mountain paths in my heart. My soul sets sail outward on storm-pounded oceans. I am driven to this; it is the only thing I know. I am heading further and further into the wilderness of life, following the ineffable pull of the heart, trudging through the swamps, rising up against the storms, staring out into the skies with a mind of blazing fire. Yes, it’s true: I am lost out in a great wilderness. But please, don’t send out a search party for me.”
“Yes it’s true. I am a little crazy, a little deranged, a little bit off the rails. But spare me your doctors, your drugs – your diagnosis. I don’t need to be fixed or repaired; I don’t need to find a way to ‘fit in’ to some system of routine and predictability. I live in a world of chaos and madness and mystery, but I like it this way. It is only in the untamed spaces where I feel a sense of belonging. It is only in the unknown where I salvage what my soul needs. It is only when I venture beyond those fences of normality and out into the woods of madness that I feel totally at home.”
“You may look for me in the everyday places but you will not find me there. The offices. The streets. The suburbs. The supermarkets. Yes, it’s true that I may sometimes be there in body, but please know that my soul and spirit are somewhere far away over the hills. If you are looking for the real me then come find me out in foreign fields of discovery, chasing my bliss and staring into sunset skies with a mind on fire. Find me lost in the woods of madness, tumbling down rabbit-holes and talking to the fairies. Find me out on the plains of the wild, running toward the horizon with wide eyes and an open heart. I am sorry but I just don’t know how to stay grounded in those concrete realities; I don’t know how to keep my mind locked in world of sensibility and stability. To me they are barren and desolate lands which only suffocate and starve my soul. So if you’re looking for the real me then come out beyond the fence and find me. There I’ll be on the other side of sanity, playing in the grass of eternity, swimming amongst the stars of infinity – happily lost in my own wonderland until the end of my days.”
“His eyes were wild and his spirit uncombed. He had an alien presence that captivated everybody in the room. As we sat round the hostel bar table drinking beers, he flung his arms around like a maniac and told tales of his adventures. He must have been nearing fifty years-old but still possessed the dazzled and bewitched gaze of an infant discovering the surrounding world for the first time. At every moment he seemed painfully excited to be alive. He chugged his beer and spoke of hitchhiking around America while sleeping on the side of roads; he spoke of fighting off a couple of Venezuelan robbers with a knife; he spoke of helping to build an orphanage somewhere in Mongolia with a group of eagle hunters.
As he regaled us with his tales, I looked around at the younger faces around the table. Some looked intimidated and others looked utterly transfixed. No doubt the younger ones of the group had not encountered a creature of this kind before. Personally I had met a few people like this before out here on the road. I recognised a little bit of myself in him and enjoyed sipping my beer to his stories, although I could never imagine venturing as far down the rabbit-hole as he had done. It was true that I liked to have chaotic adventures – but fighting off some guys with a knife in a country known for drug gangs, gun crime and bloody murders was maybe a little too bohemian for me.
The tales of worldwide chaos and anarchy went on until eventually everyone’s beers had run dry. Looking down at the foamy mass at the bottle of the glass, he got up and headed back to the bar while offering to get a round in for everyone at the table. As soon as he left the table the gossip began. “Well, he’s a bit ‘out there’ isn’t he?” said one girl. “Yeah, is anyone else slightly afraid?” said the guy beside me. “How is someone like that still alive? How old even is he?” wondered another. As they carried on talking I couldn’t help but sit back and smile. I knew that although they were slightly intimidated, they were also secretly fascinated by such a ferocious free-spirit. The look in their eyes had a sort of marvel – an amazement that a man his age could still be living such an adventurous life. With this in mind, they chatted away about him with a sort of curious interest. This is how it was – this is how it always was with these types of people.
Always the crazy ones were discussed with hidden interest. Some were mocked outright, and others were affectionately referred to with lines like “she’s a bit different” or “he’s a bit out there”. Whatever the case, it seemed most people had a subconscious fascination for the alternative mind. People would stand back and observe them as if they were a rare species – some kind of exotic bird with pink feathers. Mostly they fascinated me because they were the creatures who had jumped the fences of normality; they were the ones who hadn’t subscribed to the current version of sanity which helped us all enjoy small-talk down the pub. To me that was a liberating quality I couldn’t help but envy. Without being shepherded on the farm of conventional thought, you were free to invent yourself and be whatever you wanted to be. And what was more desirable than that? In a world that said the winners were the rich people, or the famous people, or the good-looking people, to me it was the crazy ones – the people living life on their own terms – who were life’s greatest success stories.”
(taken from my book ‘The Thoughts From The Wild’ available here)