Swing Slow, Sweet Harried Nut

By Balaji Prasad

“Wisely and slow. They stumble that run fast." ~ William Shakespeare

The line between sanity and insanity is a thin one. It is not always obvious that this is so. But if we take the time to pause, observe and do some comparison, the line of lunacy comes into full, glorious view.

Just look at the talking heads on television, or the rantings of people who labor under the delusion that they are “journalists" as they weigh in on political matters. Now go back in time. Play some clips from the past. There is a difference, and it is stark. Somehow, people seem much more comfortable letting their lunacy shine through. We see this on social media too – on Facebook, Twitter and other spaces.

But it is all for the best. Is it not better to see the truth in all its gory glory, rather than getting confused by the lipstick on the pig? Friends, the mask has slipped! Yes, we are in a world where lunacy lives happily alongside sanity. We get some of it one day, we get the other on another day, and we don't know when which comes at us, and with what degree of ferocity.

We don't even have to go across time to see such stark differences in people who otherwise are cast from the same cloth. People in one part of the world do things that their fellow beings from a different latitude and longitude would consider lunacy. And, the feeling can be quite mutual: “They are nuts!"

What drives us nuts? Nuts are tasty!

It is hard to believe be that there has been some biological evolution (or devolution) that has taken place in the intervening period of a few decades. So, it may be circumstances that we look to for an explanation of the extraordinary difference in behavior. In any case, we would be wise to admit, at least within each of us – however grudgingly and reluctantly we do so – that we are nuts at some level.

So, if we can agree that nuttiness is an inescapable part of the world we live in, the question that arises is why this is so! Maybe human beings like hoopla. Perhaps a bland, ascetic, stoic existence doesn't hold the same appeal that flying pigs have. We love fantasies, and the fantastic experiences that enter our souls from the creative narratives we weave for ourselves. Of course, as many wise people have cautioned, “be careful what you wish for, for you may get what you wished for!" so, when the flying pig lands on your head, you get a pretty nasty headache at the very least, and, at its worst, the pig may live, but you may not. However, that is the price that we must pay, if we have a hankering for those flying porcine creatures. Nuts are tasty, and we have an incurable addiction for nuttiness.

But, nuts beget buts

The bad news is that the pigs do land. On your head!

So then comes a reckoning. A soul searching. Why? Why must I do this to myself? Why must I make those chubby animals fly? After all, they don't demand the flight of fancy we take them on! And, at some level, it may even qualify as animal cruelty, if not to the imaginary flying creatures, then at least to the nutty ones whose frantic brains cause these escapades to come into being.

And so it comes to pass that, occasionally, we pause to catch our breath. We sit cross-legged on the floor, and as we do so, we can't help noticing the presence of a navel. Even getting fixated on it. If there is a navel, there must be an owner of this thing. “It is I", the man exclaims, excitedly, as he comes to the novel realization that navels do not exist in a vacuum. “I have a navel, therefore I exist!" says the suddenly enlightened reincarnation of Descartes. There is a deep realization that starts to suffuse through the almost-penitent man who is slowly, if only temporarily, awakening from what seems like a deep slumber. “I do all these silly things that feel good when I do them. But! But, should I?" asks the somewhat disturbed philosopher-wannabe, cradling a head that is most definitely throbbing by now.

A nut and a but – caught in a rut

It is not easy to think when your head hurts. But we don't seem to have a choice. The tendency to be both nutty and butty seems to be somehow deeply ingrained in our core. It is almost as if some evil being has put these paradoxical extremes into us, watching us with sadistic glee, as we oscillate helplessly and painfully, like a pendulum that swings eternally between nuttiness and buttiness.

If you think this is an exaggeration, just stop to consider that, every once in a while, there are at least some among us, who let the spirits flow into them through the wee hours, only to wake up with a throbbing head the next morning. Literally. And, swearing never to do this again, yet doing it again. And again. And, yet again. The pendulum keeps swinging from one end to the other.

Slow my clock!

Will these swings from nutty to butty stop, and will the pendulum find its place, finally, and rest? Yes, it will, but that will happen only once, and none of us is overly eager for that trauma-inducing thought. Meanwhile, one way to think about it is to accept that pendulums will be pendulums! They will swing.

But not all clocks are the same. As time flows forward, we may notice that the grandfather clocks start winding down a tad bit. They swing too, but maybe the extreme points of the swing pull in a little closer toward the center. The damping effect may be a result of the springs being a little worn from wear. Maybe they get a little more tuned toward moderation, based on experience gained from ten thousand swings, and the associated dings. It feels better maybe to swing a little less. It damages the machinery a bit less. Can we find a way to give up a bit of the fantasy in exchange for a little less pain in the head? Must I wait until father time eventually slows down my time? Or, can I choose to become a slower grandfather clock today? And feel a little more at peace?

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Balaji Prasad is an IIT/IIM graduate, a published author, SAT/ACT Online and Offline Coach, interview, resume, and career coach at NewCranium. Contact: 704.746.9779 or balaji.prasad@newcranium.com