The only people for me are the mad ones…
“The only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn, like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars and in the middle you see the blue centerlight pop and everybody goes “Awww!”
Isn’t that the truth?
Who wants to be around commonplace people, people who don’t explode like roman candles, who aren’t desirous of everything at the same time, who don’t burn, burn, burn?
I ran across that quote for the first time 25 years or so ago.
My ex and I used to have a friend- Jim – who every year for a half dozen, gave us the same Christmas present.
He would find a calendar, something he knew we’d like. One year it was about wild women, another year a literary calendar, another year a dog calendar, one of the big ones you post on the wall, or in our case, on the basement door in the kitchen.
Then he would spend some time, I’ve no idea how much, gathering quotations and other bits of trivia.
Then he’d spend another block of time, again, I’ve no idea how much, but it clearly wasn’t a last minute, throw-together gift, inscribing blocks of the calendar with appropriate quotations or notes.
He would note, for instance, the birth date of authors that Beth and I liked. James Thurber, Tennessee Williams, Kurt Vonnegut, Langston Hughes. Then on that date, he’d transcribe a quotation from them.
He could write in very precise block drafting letters, so it was very tidy and very easy to read.
Some years there would be more dates with transcriptions than without, other years, not so much.
I have always thought it was a great idea for a very personal Christmas gift, and we never threw the calendars out.
It’s funny, when I think of that quotation from Kerouac, I see it in his hand, written on the calendar block. It wouldn’t have been the whole quote, that would have been too large, but I remember the first couple of phrases.
It’s also funny that in my mind, that quotation is inexorably linked to him.
He married a woman that we just didn’t click with, moved across the river, they eventually had a baby. They were at our wedding, and we exchange Christmas cards every year, but we’ve stopped adding those phrases about having lunch sometime.
But I still appreciate the quote, and as it turns out, considering where I ended up, it’s kind of funny, isn’t it? I think that kinky people are greedy, in the best sense.
They’re not usually greedy in the bad sense – witness my Santa Run blog, or the fact that every single time I’ve ever asked for money or donations for a good cause, they have come through.
But I think we’re greedy in terms of our experiences.
We want more, we want more intense, we want more depth and breadth and height, and if there is a potential price for that, if there is some pain, or tears, some walking a path far less trod, I think we accept it as a fair trade off.
I never wanted to miss out. I think that’s been an ongoing theme in my life, not wanting to miss out. I didn’t want to get to the end and be sorry I had played it safe, had an average life.
That’s not to say I don’t have regrets, don’t we all? I have some private and personal regrets, but in general, I am pleased with the intensity of my experiences, with the depth and breadth and height.
Sound familiar? That phrase is from one of my less-favorite poets and one of her more mawkish – in my opinion – poems, but in case it’s bothering you:
“How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of Being and ideal Grace.”
It’s Elizabeth Barrett Browning, of course, the wife of one of my favorite poets, Robert Browning.
So, one of my new year’s objectives is to strive more for that, to spend more time around those “who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn, like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars and in the middle you see the blue centerlight pop and everybody goes “Awww!”