Family and work obligations demand a lot from us. Not only are we required to be perfectly competent, productive, and sane all of our waking lives, but we also must do so on time, day-in and day-out. This craziness only ever ends when we are deep asleep at the end of each day.
I recently came across a video a YouTube titled, “The Sanity of Madness,” a video produced by the channel The School of Life. This video got me thinking about how obligations in adulthood almost never end. The video talks about how it’s OK to let go once in awhile . . . to stop, pause, think, and reflect. To acknowledge that we do not need to be perfectly competent all of the time, and to accept that it’s OK to make mistakes – even fail – once in a while.
Culturally, in the United States and in the west in general, a person’s worth is more or less placed upon his or her career status, how much money he or she makes, whether someone lives in a desirable city with a lot to offer or a small town with little going on. Although these externalities shape us, it is also important to remember that no one – not even the most competent among us – can continue at this rat-race pace forever. Once in a while, as The School of Life video point out, it’s OK to let go.
How we balance competing demands and obligations is the key, I think.
Our available time can be carved up into a pie chart, and the slice of the pie left for self-development gets – with more and more obligations – increasingly smaller and smaller. How can a person focus on self-improvement with such little resources? High paying jobs demand a lot from us. Family demands a lot from us. Relationships and community demand a lot from us. It is in this storm of obligations that we may lose ourselves.
The sanity of madness is a way of saying that it is ok to let go once in a while. It’s a way of noticing that if we don’t stop and get off of the treadmill once in a while, we will experience burnout. And burnout, as it is often pointed out, occurs across the professions. Marriages dissolve. Friendships end.
One way to slow down is to simply pause. Recognize that it’s OK not to be totally competent in every waking moment. Know that if you don’t get that job, that promotion, that date . . . your world isn’t over. The sanity of madness is, finally, a way of saying, “I can’t keep up, and I need to slow down.” Although it may seem contrary to success, it may be time to realize that in life sometimes it’s OK to say “I can’t,” to stop, to pause.
There is sanity in madness sometimes.