“But I don’t want to go among mad people,” Alice remarked.
“Oh, you can’t help that,” said the Cat: “we’re all mad here. I’m mad. You’re mad.”
“How do you know I’m mad?” said Alice.
“You must be,” said the Cat, “or you wouldn’t have come here.”
― Lewis Carroll, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland
Life requires us to be pretty sane basically all the time. On a daily basis we have to be patient, responsible, polite, productive, logical, reliable and dazzlingly successful.
These obligations slowly crept up on us as we were growing up and now they are our constant realities.
The problem is no one can really keep going like this over a whole lifetime. The burdens are too great; our minds too delicate.
Unfortunately society doesn’t give us much room to fall apart.
It wants us at the desk 9 a.m. sharp every day with a PowerPoint ready to go and the pressure doesn’t let up to with finally released sleep past 11 at night.
So we have no option but to keep going; while on the side we may well be drinking too much waking up at odd times of night, addicted to the internet, calming ourselves down with sedatives, and developing all kinds of physical twitches in ailments. But in truth no good life can or should go by without a few quite open incidence of complete breakdown.
Therefore we need crazy moments in which we might be lying in bed staring at the ceiling for long periods, seeming to make no sense, wearing strange clothes, and sitting on the porch all day doing nothing, shouting, singing, dancing, being silly in a way when hasn’t been for decades, making some unusual new friends and taking off to strange places.
We allow our bodies to have moments of breakdown and rest; we should allow similar moments for our minds.
It’s time also to say a word about the essential normality of a little madness. The importance of a good mental breakdown. It is necessary for us to reconnect with valuable truths we’ve lost sight of: emotions and insights that ordinary life has prevented us from investigating.
Perhaps sexual exploration, creativity, headless, contact with our body, empathy, ecstasy, or a new kinf of self-knowledge
The idea is that we should return from the land of madness and plant in the fields of apparent sanity a lot of pretty valuable seeds that can bear fruit and sustain us in the periods ahead.
Infact like in the famous novel “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” madness is the explanation for just about any silly, curious, or crazy behavior.
In this case the reader must give in and accept a certain degree of irrationality in order to enjoy the tales.
I suppose Lewis Carroll wanted to suggest madness is not simply the opposite of sanity; there are many degrees and types of madness, each of which deviates from the norm in a different way and to a different extent.
Madness has no negative connotation; on the contrary, it seems freeing and interesting.
However, madness in the book is different from foolishness, which evokes pity and compassion. Reading “Alice’s adventures in wonderland” we can appreciate this kind of madness such as a virtue.
So, inspired by the novel and his tales, I believe that what we should aim for is not sanity, but a wise, knowledgeable and self-possessed relationship to our manifold insanities, or what we may term “sane insanity”.
The “sane insane” among us are not a special category of the mentally unwell: they represent the most evolved possibility for a mature human being.
Originally published at medium.com