Breakdown or Breakthrough

“Madness need not be all breakdown. It may also be break-through. It is potential liberation and renewal as well as enslavement and existential death.” ― R.D. Laing

For a chick to hatch it has to break its way out of its egg, hacking away at the shell until it cracks, then pushing through the cracks until it escapes the confinement of its birth pod. We view this process as being normal. We don’t even think about it, that’s how normal it is. Just like billions of other things which we see as normal. A part of life.

“The range of what we think and do is limited by what we fail to notice. And because we fail to notice that we fail to notice, there is little we can do to change; until we notice how failing to notice shapes our thoughts and deeds.” ― R.D. Laing

Yet, in some ways you could consider that the chick is completely insane. It is deliberately destroying the only world it has ever known. It is breaking apart the shell which protects it from the unknown which lies outside the shell. It is shattering the boundaries of one reality in search of another reality.

Ah, but the chick has an instinctive urge to do this, it knows that to survive it must break the shell which encloses it or it will die inside. The chick is simply following what its nature dictates it must do. No thought involved. No choice. No one to point at it and call it insane for challenging one version of reality to see if there is more to life that living inside an eggshell.

“Attempts to wake before our time are often punished, especially by those who love us most. Because they, bless them, are asleep. They think anyone who wakes up, or who, still asleep, realizes that what is taken to be real is a ‘dream’ is going crazy.” ― R.D. Laing

We use the word ‘Crazy’ a lot in our vocabulary. To criticise, to compliment, to shame, to encourage, to manipulate and control, to challenge and spur, to point out something which scares us or someone whom we fear, to celebrate genius, to express excitement at doing something which pushes us beyond our perceived limitations.

We call ourselves crazy when we embrace our inner wildness, break free from self control, and break through a barrier which was fencing us in. Or we call ourselves crazy to shut ourselves down, and fence ourselves in. Hide behind a facade of sane. Sane, normal, is easy to mimic, just copy what everyone else is doing.

“There is a great deal of pain in life and perhaps the only pain that can be avoided is the pain that comes from trying to avoid pain. ” ― R.D. Laing

We call others crazy… until their crazy becomes the new normal. When this happens we often look back and call the old normal crazy.

We laugh at how crazy our ancestors were for believing the Earth was flat. They laughed and derided those who believed the Earth was round. Who knows what the future generations will think of us when they look back at what we believe to be true, reality, normal, will they laugh at us too? The people we laugh at now for being crazy… are they really crazy or are they heralds ushering in the new normal. Chicks breaking out of a restrictive shell to breakthrough to a new reality.

“In a world full of danger, to be a potentially seeable object is to be constantly exposed to danger. Self-consciousness, then, may be the apprehensive awareness of oneself as potentially exposed to danger by the simple fact of being visible to others. The obvious defence against such a danger is to make oneself invisible in one way or another.” ― R.D. Laing