My brother Randy has a saying: “Everyone’s a head case. It’s just a matter of degrees.”
Now, before I delver further into this, I want to remind you, in case you forgot, that Randy’s the guy who coined the term “shit magnet.” By this he means the sort of thing and/or ferret and/or person who attracts serial traumatic crapola like flies to a corpse, not that I’ve witnessed such a thing first hand. But don’t you just love morbid imagery? I do. Because I, dear friends, am a shit magnet. Then again, so is everyone else. I know of not a single human being in the 18 ozoollion in the history of the planet who squeaked through life unscathed. And if you reply, “Girlfriend, do you have up-close-and-personal knowledge of all 18 ozoollion people in the history of the planet?,” I will just have to shut you up with a flat-out lie and say, UH-HUH, AND THEY WERE JUST TEXTING ME LAST NIGHT, BEE-AHHTCH.
But I digress (what else is new). Back to Randy’s theory of universal calibrated head-casedness. I believe he is absolutely correct, for three incontrovertible reasons. One: I’m a head case. (Say it! I am Spartacus! I am Spartacus!) Two: Everything Randy says is correct, at least about soccer, and I’m convinced that this is somehow related. If you know Randy, you will know that he’s prone to wise and pithy aphorisms that sound irrefutable because they probably are. And no, my saying this HAS NOTHING TO DO with the way he strong-armed me into a legally binding agreement to quote him only if I give him 80 percent of the profits (see left).
Reason Three: Entropy. We have no choice! Everyone’s a head case because the universe is a head case. Because things fall apart. Unzip. Unspool. Go to weeds. Fly outward. Lose their center. Crack up. So long as we have the energy, the grit, the pluck, the luck, we can keep ourselves together and hang onto a semblance of control. But keeping disorder at bay is hard work, baby. As anyone who has ever seen my house will confirm, the threat of disorder lurks in very corner, in every opened yogurt container, in every gathering dust bunny.
At the moment, my house isn’t half bad. Neither is my head. Sitting in my attic, clacking out these words, I’m as orderly as I ever am. I am mold- and dust-free, although I’m glad to report that I don’t smell like furniture polish. But whatever sense I’ve made of my own thoughts and my own life, whatever wee success I’ve had in figuring myself out, comes down to this: I’m a mess. I don’t expect myself to be anything other than a mess. However serene and fulfilled and rational I am in this sliver of time called now, I know that emotional and mental disarray are only as far off as the next bucket of shit. And knowing this — being okay with knowing this — is my best hope for keeping sane. That, and loving people. And exercise. And gratitude. And chocolate.
We needn’t be diagnosed or hospitalized or pigeon-holed or pathologized to admit out loud that it’s a crazy-making thing, this being alive. Isn’t it? Come on. How could it NOT be? It’s absolutely batshit, what we do each day: Waking, getting out of bed, toeing into the dank unknown as though we have a bloody clue what we’re doing. As though we’re not fighting off insecurity and fear every waking moment. As though we’re not expelling snot into our pillows on a semi-regular basis. As though we’re not relieved, at the end of the day, to just collapse in a heap and say, I ONLY SCREWED UP A LITTLE TODAY. And in other news, I’M NOT DEAD.
Of course, beauty waits around the bend. Joy creeps in. Love, sudden and surging, overwhelms. But the waiting beauty, the creeping joy, the surging love are as beyond our control as any of the psycho-twisting obstacles that trip and crack us up. Right now, praise God, I’m awash in all three; my life makes some sense to me; my universe is ordered, as is my mind. Sort of. I guess. A little. For now. And so I’m a head case, all the same.