Sunday, May 22, 2005

Between Obsession and Madness

Some people are just wired differently. We experience the world in a different way— need different things out of it, want different things from it. For example, some people— in fact, most people, can get up every morning at the same time, work at the same job at the same desk with the same people for years, and seemingly not be bothered by this routine. They don’t need or want more, don’t ask for much except for everything to remain at the same even keel.

The rest of us need—no crave—not just variety, but randomness. We welcome the unusual, the unforeseen, the dramatic. We are bored by the ordinary so we seek the extraordinary, often not realizing we are walking the thin line between normalcy and obsession. We often work at the same Monday through Friday jobs as the rest of the working world but see them as no more than a means to an end. We crave the tension, the drama, the singleness of focus that comes with being so devoted to a cause, a sports team, a band, a TV show or film that we will disrupt our entire lives to get closer to it. And we are not annoyed by the necessity of such disruption—in fact, we welcome it, almost seek it, and often fall into deep depression when it’s gone. We don’t know what to do with ourselves without the excitement, the stimulation, and yes, even sometimes the chaos.

Is this behavior something we should concern ourselves with? I believe that the answer is different for every person. Are you still able to discharge your responsibilities as an adult? Are you harming anyone else? Are you harming yourself? Are you running away from something, running to something? Are you dealing with the issues in your life, or are you avoiding dealing with them? It is impossible to get inside someone else’s head to answer these questions—hell, it is hard enough to get inside our own heads and figure these things out. And it most certainly is not fair to judge what others go through on a daily basis, what they need and want from the world to get through life. Yet, there are (as there most certainly ought to be) times when it is right and proper to inject oneself into a particular situation, to intervene on the behalf of someone else. But we must be very careful when doing so and examine our own motivations for intervening. Is it possible we are guilty of the same behaviors of which we accuse others? Will the other person be helped by our intervention or are we just assuaging our own guilt?

Ultimately, each person must assume responsibility for his or her own actions, and only that person can decide if and when it is time to make a change. Many times, though a behavior pattern may seem odd or unusual, it is in fact not harmful--in fact, it may be the only thing that that allows that person to get through the day. It is very easy to sit on the outside of someone else's life and judge, but most times there is very little we can or should do. Some people fall off the edge of addiction, obsession and chaos into madness and self-destruction, and there is, quite simply, nothing to be done.

And this descent into the vortex is a truly frightening thing to watch. Frightening for the rest of us who also live on the edge—because we are not so sure we are very far from following that path ourselves. And that is a truly terrifying prospect.

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