So lately I’ve been thinking about spelunking.
Stay with me here.
You see, when I was younger, in an (seemly sane yet totally insane) effort to “grow up” and “do what I was supposed to do,” I opted into a normal life. And as we all know, I totally sucked at that.
Over the last few days, I faced the fact that I am not and have never been a normal person. No wonder I sucked.
I remembered all my stories of not just “crazy sh*t” that I have done. (Well, I actually don’t think I have done any crazy sh*t. Which is probably profoundly indicative of my perspective.) Non-standard decisions I’ve made. The seemingly odd reactions I have to relatively normal situations.
And below are two of the stories that came up.
So back to the spelunking.
Spelunking is the fancy word for exploring caves.
When I was a little girl growing up in Missouri (the “cave state” btw), we would go camping at state parks that had amazing cave systems hidden underneath them.
One year we went to on the normal 45 minute walking tour where the naturalist would explain how the water systems worked, tell us the history of the caves, and show us breathtaking stalactites & stalagmites & columns & crystalline waterfalls.
And then we came to the end of the tour.
And I saw the sign.
The sign that said, SERIOUS DANGER, do not pass this point.
The sign that said you are not allowed to go past this point without a permit. You are not allowed to go past this point without three forms of light. You are not allowed to go past this point without a wet suit and a favorable weather report from the park naturalists stating that this part of the cave isn’t going to fill up with water and drown you in a freaking watery grave.
(okay it didn’t say freaking. But you get the idea.)
And, as a 10 year old girl, I thought to myself:
Dude. I am all about going past this point.
Fast forward a few years, to when I was in college.
One May term I signed up for Cave Ecology (yes, I was a major science nerd in college).
Cave Ecology was the most freaking awesome class ever.
Because it was pretty much just an academic excuse to get the permits needed to go crawling into holes in the earth & get covered in mud & discover hidden beauty & amazement. All in the name of science. And, of course, class credit.
So picture it. In old jeans and a sweatshirt and a hardhat w/ a real caving lamp on top, I crawled into a 2 foot high crack in the side of a hill. On my hands & knees. Well, slinking on my belly in the mud, really.
And as I was squirming through this tunnel, I could feel the weight of the earth above me. Had to hold myself off from completely freaking out by the idea of the New Madrid fault finally going in the big one Mississippi-river-running-backwards earthquake that the made-for-TV movies kept predicting would happen.
And after much crawling, climbing, and hiking through mud, over underground rivers, past rainbow waterfalls of crystal and glistening columns that had been growing for centuries, the tunnel sudden opened. Into majesty.
I cannot explain to you the scale of this room underneath the earth. Think, football stadiums. Stacked. Think, not being able to see the ceiling because the light from the flashlight dissipates too quickly to light whatever mysteries were above us.
And as I rounded the corner, I saw it. A mountain. Of bat sh*t.
(yes, I know it is called guano. but bat sh*t is so much more funny.)
And I am not exaggerating here. I mean a pile the size of a freaking skyscraper. The decades and hundreds of thousands of bats that went into its creation are beyond comprehension.
And as I saw that mountain of sh*t, one thought entered into my head.
Dude. I totally want to climb that thing.
You see, there are two kinds of people in this world. Normal people. And crazy people.
When normal people see the “don’t go past this point” sign they think, going past this point would be a bad idea.
When normal people see a mountain of sh*t, they think, that’s gross, get me away from this stinky pile of sh*t.
But there are a few us of who view “don’t go past this point” signs not as a warning. But as a challenge.
A signpost. An invitation to an experience that must be exponentially awesome or they wouldn’t have needed the sign.
There are those of us who see a mountain of bat sh*t and ask ourselves, how’s the view from the top?
How long did it take to make that pile? How many bats went into its creation? What’s inside it? Does anything live in there? Has anyone climbed it before? Could we use it for something? How many people have seen this pile? Are there other piles in the world that are bigger than this one, and can I climb those?
I am jealous of people who can be happy with an ordinary life.
Sometimes I wish I could just do the normal culturally acceptable things and love them. A life where my parents could actually answer the question “what does your daughter do?” without people’s eyes glazing over. Where buying a house in suburbia & going to a job (or even running a normal business) & making cookies for the bake sale were things I found lovely and comforting instead of horrifying and deadening.
Being a crazy person is hard work.
Constantly unsetting. My whirling brain never turns off. I never sleep in. I never say to myself ah, I’ve arrived, I’m done, I can rest now.
So if you are a normal person, congratulations.
Seriously. No sarcasm here.
Being happy with what is normal in our culture is awesome, if it works for you.
But dude, it totally did not work for me.
So this past weekend I finally decided that f*ck it, I’m just going to be run with this whole being crazy thing.
Hike past the sign. Climb the pile of sh*t.
Move. Travel. Go on adventures. Post controversial blog posts. Launch insanely ridiculous programs. Host a live event with no plan and no meeting room.
If you are fellow crazy person, whether you are still masquerading as normal or whether you’ve totally committed to the insanity, you are not alone. We’re on this adventure together.
And it’s going to be freaking awesome.
This post was inspired by my friend CouchSurfingOri, who is not only brilliant & mischievous & has an never-ending supply of puns and groaner jokes, but has totally committed to leading an awesometasticly crazy life. You can follow his adventures on his blog or his twitter.
Are you a normal person? Are you a crazy person? Do you think there is a third category?
I’d love you to join us in the conversation below!