I'm crazy, or the world is insane

Published 5:56 am Tuesday, January 8, 2002

Sometimes I find myself out of step with the rest of the world, and when I do, I ask myself the question posed aloud once by my late Uncle Joel.
"Am I crazy or is the rest of the world insane?" he once pondered aloud as he was seeking to find a resolution to a complex issue that left him a long way from seeing eye-to-eye with his professional colleagues.
He was a unique man n a lawyer and a judge in a small town n whose departure made the world a lot less bright for a number of his closest friends and family members.
He once told me while attempting to help teach me to drive something that still sticks in my mind as long as it bounces signals around.
"When you're driving, remember one thing," he said as I took the wheel. "Everybody you meet on the road is a lunatic hell-bent on killing you and everyone with you as long as you're on the road. Remember that and you'll reduce your chances of letting someone else's mistake cost you your life."
I often remember my uncle when the rest of the world seems crazy and I just don't get it.
Such has been the case lately with many of the things that have been swirling around me.
My life has been topsy-turvy lately, if not for the things that are going on at the office, for the things that are happening at home. For the second time, a gift from God, as sweet and wonderful as it is, is keeping me up at night in the form of a four-week old daughter.
I must admit here that my wife, whose characteristics resemble many of those possessed by people who have been canonized, takes 90 percent of the brunt of this assault on dreamland. Still, I have found that I get to bed later, toss more frequently and suffer restlessness as I feel the need to check on them every few hours of the night.
So I walk around in a dreamy daze most of the day saddled with lists in my head of the things I need to do at home. At home, I drift through the house saddled with lists in my head of the things I need to do at the office. Consequently, things seem very surreal.
This surreal feeling has grown more as I have had more and more conversations with people about things here at the office that go right, wrong or in-between.
It usually revolves around something that goes wrong under the accusation that the treatment was intentional.
This idea is what I call the "personal reduction philosophy."
It's a characteristic I have heard people n including myself n buy in to from time to time. It's when we suggest that nothing bad that happens can be the result of human error, professional deliberation or adherence to rules and regulations. It's the idea that bad things that happen n ALL bad things that happen n happen because someone had an axe to grind. Not because the mail didn't run. Not because something got lost, stolen or misplaced. Not because somebody was in a hurry, or somebody else was suffering from sleep deprivation. But because of intentional meanness.
It's like the time a friend went to the store to buy a newspaper and found the rack empty. She then went to another store to discover the same thing. She then told me, "It must have been a doozey. All the racks were sold out."
"All" the racks? Two of umpteen were checked. A check at a third and fourth and fifth location indicated that there were plenty of papers to go around. Those other racks were stacked.
Maybe the first racks were shortchanged. Maybe somebody stole all the papers. Maybe there weren't enough papers that day to fill them. Maybe Martians took them out of two racks so we could have the conversation about what "All" meant when compared to two.
It's the idea that we get when we don't know what happened, but we can't let it rest with not knowing. So we fill in the blanks with our imagination and make sweeping generalizations that aren't grounded in reality. And it's easy when we do this to reduce it to "me."
My mother blurted out once as a car pulled out in front of her on the highway, "He must have known I was coming and that I was in a hurry."
And she believed it. It's Persecution Syndrome.
Perhaps it's the surreal state I am in n new baby, new people around me, new environment n but it sure seems to me like I have had this conversation 100 times in the past two weeks. Recently my father, who knows my outlook on Persecution Syndrome, said when my mother visited recently and left for a brief shopping trip, "She won't just go where she needs to go. She has to lollygag around and be two hours longer doing something than it should take. She just does it to make me mad."
Right, Pop.
I think I must be the one who's insane.
Brian Blackley is publisher of The Atmore Advance. He may be reached at 368-2123 or by e-mail at brian.blackley@atmoreadvance.com.

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