sense: how to deal with not making it

I tend to gravitate toward people whose lives make no sense.  I can’t explain it. I like it. I like them. I like their fearless, and even fearful, excitement about doing the right thing, even in the face of no money, no spouse, no privacy, and lots of rules about what you cannot drink or flush. They stride straight — or even go complaining and penguin-waddling — into a situation brimming with dealbreakers for those of us pretending to pursue a version of “normal” life.

My desire to do crazy things (in the name of the Lord Jesus, amen) piqued after my freshman year of college, when I had no car and no job and did little but read and write (and subscribe to half a dozen humanitarian aid newsletters) and try to explain what I was learning about missions and the important roles of the arts, and of sacrifice, and of loving better, to my friends, who didn’t get it, and to a crazy man who called me from payphones in Venezuela, who seemed to be the only person who did.

And then we (crazy and I) started dating, and then we got married, and then we were trapped in another kind of poverty (called loans and an apartment lease). I, in small pieces, have mourned my hopes of a ridiculous life of poverty and photojournalism and casual conversations over coffee in a language other than English.

But since I’ve stopped working in a place that slowly sucked my soul out (if you’re picturing dementors, we should be friends), Josh and I have re-bonded over being ridiculous. We talk of giving of ourselves in new ways. We’re trading books and discussing the needs of our corner of the world. (Even if I have to speak to my neighbors in English, so help me, you cannot make me plug in my TV.)

I’m telling him my dreams while bouncing in the passenger seat again. It seems that the idealist — the parts of me that used to make clearly-thinking people say, “not so fast now, buddy” — sleeping so long inside, was not killed in last year’s atrocities.

I get little caffeine-free highs when I think about our new versions of ridiculous. We hope to be reasonable (blaaaahhh sort of), to involve our brains in the decision making process — and to keep from believing the opposite of the “normal” lie — that the success of our lives is inversely proportionate to how much sense we’re making.

We’re learning, though, that our lives don’t seem meant to make sense. I know I want crazy things. But I know what happens when I leave the crazy factor out of my life. I get depressed. I wrap me up inside myself, emotionally draw the blinds, and withdraw to a place where I feel safe enough to get by and stupid for making believe that I was made for more than surviving.

Knowing that allows me to dream. It frees me to read faster, write more, to dust off my sketch pad and spend Sundays researching the needs of children in western Pennsylvania. It frees me to help people, actually to have a life that someone else might point to and said, “Hey, this chick’s happy and it makes no sense.” I haven’t been that girl in a long, long time.

A little crazy is good for the soul.

As part of my grownup project to be more responsible, to plug into my community, and to respect those around me, I’m seeking advice for our next steps.

When I say, “This is what we’re thinking of doing eventually, and I’d like your advice, and can we talk about whether this is something you can see me doing?” people still stare blankly. Those who do take me seriously settle down and get serious and say, “Let’s not look at this through rose-colored glasses, sweetpea.”

I think I will take that as a good sign.


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