The only sanity in a world gone mad

There’s a phrase you might have heard or thought quite a few times this year: “… in a world gone mad.”

If you’ve been awake at all, you’ve probably muttered something like this for at least several years.

But the world has always been mad. What’s going on right now just reveals a deep level of insanity that has always been there, seething beneath the surface of what we refer to as “normal.”

You might think that the madness I’m referring to are whatever things make you feel most afraid and angry.

That’s not what I mean.

Because those things that make you feel most afraid and angry are exactly what a lot of other people dearly hope could become “normal.”

No, what I mean by insanity is the belief that we can control the universe or other people. This insanity rests on the idea that control is anything but an illusion. And that notion (the one that makes us so desperate) is born from fears of scarcity and intrinsic brokenness.

Humans have always developed stories about life, the universe, and everything. These stories are attempts to convince ourselves of a certainty that never existed.

Because of the way our brains work, we can process only about 2,000 bits of the 400 billion bits of information surging around us every second. And even then, our conscious minds can only handle 50 of those bits per second.

If you focus on that for a moment, it’s obvious that no matter how well educated or even brilliant any of us might ever be, we are trying to understand reality by looking at it through a keyhole.

The madness is believing that what you or I might see through our particular keyhole is the whole picture—or even more than a laughably tiny portion of what’s going on at any moment.

So what can be done about this crazy situation?

Let go and love.

Love is the only sanity.

Love the eyes reading these words. Love the heart that’s keeping you alive. Love the fact that we are living in the most extraordinary time humans have ever shared on this planet—what a remarkable thing, to be alive with over seven and a half billion other people at this moment.

And I’m not talking about a floaty, “thoughts and prayers” kind of love.

The love that transforms is real stuff. It’s pausing in times of panic, breathing deeply, and asking, “What can I do right here within my own arms’ reach? Who needs me to do a practical, courageous thing now?”

Usually the answer starts inside my own skin, you know? I need me to breathe, rest, restore a little peace in my nervous system, drink a glass of water, take a walk, make the bed…

Maybe the old lady who lives next door and walks her dog to the mailbox every day at exactly 12:35 needs me to stop and say hello and chat about the geraniums for twenty seconds.

My son might need a quick squeeze on his shoulder as he runs out the door to get to work.

The brain tries to say that these are insignificant things when those loud voices “out there” are screaming about how overwhelming everything is.

But through the keyhole of reality that I can perceive, the smallest act of love and sanity can change the only world that I can do anything about.

“For a day, just for one day,
Talk about that which disturbs no one
And bring some peace into your
Beautiful eyes.”
— Hafiz

Jacob Nordby

Jacob Nordby

Jacob Nordby is the author of The Divine Arsonist: A Tale of Awakening, and Blessed Are the Weird – A Manifesto for Creatives. His third book, The Creative Cure, was released by Hierophant Publishing in 2021 with a foreword by Julia Cameron. He is the co-founder of The Institute for Creative Living and also a highly introverted person who can often be found working in the quietest corner of some Boise coffee shop.

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9 Responses

  1. So beautifully said. Yes, love is the answer and has always been, for we are not here for ourselves but to serve others. God Bless

  2. Thank you Jacob – you always make me smile! We need a pandemic of love and kindness and we really do have to start with ourselves and learn to be amazed by our own existence… It’s all so improbable! Sending ripples of love and kindness to all who need it – and remembering that the world within my own four walls and behind my eyes doesn’t have to be a reflection of what is going on ‘out there’. It’s a challenge to not get caught up in the drama and the only answer that makes any sense is that big kind of love you refer to. Many blessings to all my weird soul friends!

  3. Much appreciated. The kind of insanity that you’re talking about is the stuff I’ve struggled with my entire adult life: thinking I can control that which I cannot, which is the ultimate judgmentalism. Like, who do I think I am? I’ve been aware of it for years, and have apologized many times to my children/spouse/friends/co-workers for my assumptions and high expectations…but somehow I still fall back to the insanity that justice will happen, reason and equity will win, and a hundred other false ideals.
    Thank you for the articulate inspiration and reminder that small acts of love are probably the most important things we can do in this life.

  4. I am holding silent vigils inside myself. It gives me room to breathe. All it is, is to acknowledge what I see, give it permission to be, and then let it pass. I’m finding room inside my consciousness then to ask, What can I do to make it better? The answers are always astonishing.

  5. Great perspective, Jacob. Sigh of relief on my part. Nice to know we can still be and act locally to improve the view through our keyhole. Much less overwhelming that way. 🙂

  6. “Tell me something good” is what I say sometimes to my sister when I start the day with my coffee. No drama. I’m physically tired from this pandemic experience yet I can still See a light at the end of the tunnel – opportunities and goodness on the other side. I catch my self talk of that maybe I’m being too Pollyanna-ish about this experience right now – looking for something good, but what’s the alternative? My passport is expired and the borders are closed!
    I love that I can still learn and See – probably more so now than ever. I’m loving this evolvement even though it’s painful at times.
    Thanks for sharing some love today, Jacob!
    Have a good morning!
    12 July 20

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