Mind War: Part Four -- A Little Bit Crazy

So we talked about mental health in a very serious way in part two of this series (for other posts, see the Overview page). The key conclusion was that our modern world is driving a significant number of us crazy. And I mean the negative, bad kind of crazy.

But there's another kind of crazy. And it's the kind that our world doesn't make room for. It's the good kind. The helpful kind. The Dionysian kind of crazy.

Gonna party like it's 1899...

This has been on my mind a lot lately because I've been going to the gym...


Wait, that really does make sense. One of my personal goals is to get more exercise. The reason I want more exercise isn't to lose weight or to look hot, it's to have more energy and to feel better. See, exercise is really good for your mental health and happiness. So because I live in an area of the country where the weather is wet and miserable for a significant number of the winter months, and because I tend to be chilly and don't like to exert myself in that kind of weather, I joined a gym. It's a perfect gym for me too, because it has both a lap pool and a warm therapy pool, free yoga classes, and is filled with old Jewish people. That's not a stereotype by the way, it's literal -- the gym is part of our local Jewish Community Center. This means that it's not crowded or very intense or filled with people who want to hook up.

Oh, just fuck off already...

So I go before work and run on the treadmill and then use the weight machines. And soon after starting, I realized the joy of listening to music while exercising. And while I'm listening to Dave Mathews, Pharrell Williams, Annie Lenox, and My Chemical Romance (I have eclectic taste) on the treadmill, I just feel happy and great and, well, like I want to dance. So, you know what I do? I dance. I walk/jog/run along with the music, mouthing the words and bobbing my head, occasionally skipping, maybe enjoying some shoulder action and triumphant hand gestures.

I'm pretty sure I look kind of bat shit while doing it too. Because, let's be honest, it's a little bit crazy to jam out in public -- even at the gym. And if your a 40 something women it looks even more crazy (because cute little teenagers tend to get a pass on nutty behavior). But I don't care. Because my goal is to feel better, more energetic, and have fun. "Working out" isn't fun (it says "work" right in the word!). If I just got on the treadmill (or any of those other scary looking machines that make my thighs hurt way too much) and ran, all dour and serious about my serious, serious workout... well, I would not be meeting my goal.

I'm not judging anyone else mind you. Maybe they have a serious goal, to be in serious shape. So they are meeting their goal. But I wouldn't be. I need to be less serious and I need to have more fun in my life. If it's a little bit crazy, well, it's the kind of crazy I need. As the weather improves, I hope to run outside too, someplace with trees, but in the meantime, I get a treadmill that faces the window and jam.

Because life is tough, you know? There's a lot of tough, serious stuff. You have to let go sometimes.

I'd been pondering how to describe this for a while. But then the spouse pointed me to this and I realized I didn't have to. Because this does a better job than I ever could, and with cute animations too:



This is pretty much the opposite of the other kind of crazy. The kind where you are hurting yourself, not healing. But society doesn't really see it that way. If you get on a podium and froth with anger and complain about people who are different from you and how they shouldn't be allowed in your country? That makes you a contender for public office. Grownups enjoying music in public? Nuts, man. Maybe you should take something for that.

Which brings us to magic and spirituality. The poster child for crazy beliefs. In our society, magical thinking is a bad thing and generally considered a psychological problem... or a cause of psychological problems. Psychologists are leery of crapping too hard on Western organized religion (probably for fear of getting a big fat target on their backs) but many are happy to crap on "primitive" believe systems. Basically, they're OK with prayer but give hearing the voice of god the side eye.

There's a whole lot of Paganism that comes under the heading of that kind of good crazy. I mean, it's OK in our society to appreciate nature, to recycle and plant trees. But wanting to cavort in it? Preferably naked? Right. I'm reminded of this article (I swear I link to this thing monthly on various comments and may have in the blog before as well -- it's really important for my understanding of what it means to do magic and be a Pagan). We need to roll around in the dirt AND ponder the stars.

This time of year is challenging in the Pacific Northwest. It tends to be wet and cold. The first hints of spring are appearing (I saw my first bulb shoots yesterday), but the weather to enjoy it is still far off. It makes is hard to stay positive. I can always tell when I've been too stressed and busy and down because it makes me cranky on the Internet. And being cranky on the Internet is both pointless and annoying. Just because someone is wrong on the net doesn't mean it's my job to set them right.

For every comment I ever make anywhere, there are usually about six that I delete. This policy of self-censorship works really well for me. So when I start losing the self-control to apply it, I know I'm in a run down place. I need a little more of that good kind of crazy.

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