When I was a kid, I used to see a tramp dancing around crazily on the main street around my home. I used to see him every day, dancing and shouting and running around crazily in the same ragged torn clothes. Over time, I had curious questions in my mind. Who was that man? What was he up to? Why was he different than the rest of other grown-ups? And one day I asked my mom about him. To which, she replied, ‘ He’s a tramp. He’s gone insane. Avoid him.’
What is insanity? Why is he insane? What made him act that way?
Over time, I grew up and understood what insanity meant ‘according to social standards‘. But never did anyone really understand why people went insane, why this insanity existed in some random individuals who lived among other ‘sane’ people, that too in those individuals who had a bit different story to tell. Now that I’ve faced it myself, I’m finally understanding how insanity depends on one’s perception, how it can be interpreted in many different ways. And I’ve understood how many things can be misinterpreted to make it a single thing- ‘insanity’
What exactly is called going insane?
There is no exact meaning of going insane. But there are different versions of the meaning of ‘going insane’. In accordance with society’s standards, acting differently is called being insane. You don’t want a job, you don’t care about other people, you live a carefree life against the limits of the society we live in, it’s called going insane. It has always been a matter of debate when it comes to the etiquette to be displayed in society. Society has set a standard for everything, from eating to lifestyle to fraternizing, everything has its own standard. In a society, you ought to eat with your mouth closed, help someone with their bags, drink with a toast, invite people to party, live a hectic life with your daily nine-to-five job, marry the girl you love, take your kids to holidays, live a comfortable life after your retirement and watch your grandkids grow up. That’s everything you have to do to live a ‘normal’ social life.
But not everyone wants to comply with these rules. Everyone’s got a right to have a fantasy about their own life. Maybe I want to go somewhere, far away, and live a life alone. Maybe I want to leave the ‘comfortable’ house of my parents and want to join the Masai people in Tanzania and live my life their way. Maybe I like to stay alone, play my guitar and talk to myself.
Not many people give a second thought to these, but there are people who want to live a life this way. I may be just 17, but still, a child resides in me. In fact, the childhood self still resides in many. And that child constantly wants you to break the bonds of the society, to contravene the ‘rules’ of society and be free. I’ve seen this happen to a lot of people. I’ve seen people leave their business, their homes, their family, everything they have and seek out the eternal peace of their life, their dreams, the dreams that the inner child always wanted them to realize. And once you let this child in you overcome the fear of being boycotted by the society, you start living your own life.
The society wants its denizens to live a ‘materialistic life’, the life that provides materialistic happiness. But what actually makes us happy is the happiness of living, living a carefree and joyful life without any fear of feeling spurned by the society. And once this feeling gets set in you, you’re called insane. People naturally can’t tolerate someone discrepant with their standards. You’re called insane, people point at you and start laughing, you’re treated like aliens just because you dared to think differently. That’s called going insane; seems right from a social perspective but actually is a term coined by society to discourage its members from thinking differently.
Insanity- a battle of paradox
‘Insanity is relative. It depends on who has who locked in what cage.’
— Ray Bradbury
No. I’m not insane. Halfway through this article, I may be already sounding ridiculous. But I’m not insane. Then why am I writing this? As ridiculous it may sound again, I’m insane. I’m insane because I act completely different than how I’m expected to. I’m unpredictable, and that’s what makes people think I’m insane. From my perspective, I just don’t call myself insane, although I’m insane from your perspective. Yes, I know you’re brainfucked.
I always have been different throughout my childhood. Ever since I was a child, I’ve been an introvert all my life. When other kids played football outside, on a warm sunny day, I used to sit inside, alone, and read books. I’ve never had had many friends all my life. I have asked a billion ridiculous question, pissed off numerous people and turned many people against me.
While others thought of enjoying teenage with flashy parties, hordes of friends and regular outings on weekends, all I’ve done is sat alone and think about small, tiny things that really mattered to me. While others enjoyed playing cricket, I’d just sit down and stare at the clouds. Someone would come over and ask me to join the match. And I’d simply deny. AND, piss that guy off, by just asking him to join me in my imaginary airplane that’d take us above those clouds.
“Quite ridiculous for an average teenager.”
“Are you nuts?”
“Why the hell are you so childish?”
Is nearly all I’ve heard since my childhood. I know I’m different, and I can’t help. I can’t stop sitting alone and reading a book when I could have attended parties. I speak to myself, I often say things in ridiculous situations that wouldn’t suit an average high school Junior. And I’m not ashamed of it (although my parents are). I’m called insane. I won’t mind being different. I wouldn’t mind sitting on the rooftop at a cold, full moon night and playing guitar because I wouldn’t mind creating a memory for myself that I’ll never lose. I don’t fear my ‘reputation’, my image in front of people because I simply don’t care what people think about me. I know this may sound awkward, but it’s the truth.
I’ve seen a million people come and go, and I’ve known what my life is. And when it gets too much, when ‘my world is falling apart’, I still don’t stop becoming myself, from your perspective, becoming ‘insane’. I don’t even want people to try and understand me because no one will really understand me, like other people who’ve never understood me. Except some, of course, there are exceptions. I’ve tried to blend in a million times with the crowd, I’ve tried to become as most people are. It’s always been a battle of perceptions. People versus me. But now I’ve realized I’m like this, and I won’t change. I’m insane; this is my reality. The more I get to know myself, the more I realize I’m insane. And I’m happy with it now.
And I don’t want the world to see me
‘Cause I don’t think that they’d understand
When everything’s made to be broken
I just want you to know who I am.
(Goo Goo Dolls- ‘iris’)
Never let this child inside you die away.)
Yes, insanity is relative. It’s the greatest paradox of my life. I’m insane and not insane at the same time. Not only mine, this is the reality of many. It really is up to your perception to decide if I’m insane or not. You may call someone insane but just remember: insanity is not absolute; like me, the insanity from your perspective may be a reality of someone. Like Ray Bradbury said, it just depends on who has who locked in what cage. Who knows, if your ‘sane’ reality is an insanity to someone?