This three-word imperative from the 90’s guides me every day
I cannot think of a better time to share with you these three words. A mantra that I’ve adopted for more than 10 years. Because that’s the only thing I have to say about everything going on right now. Stop. The. (F#!king). Insanity!!! (the extra word is merely for effect))
First, a bit of history
Ever heard of Susan Powter? No biggie if you haven’t, but she is worth knowing about in my opinion. Not so much for who she was – a counter-culture fitness guru telling a Richard Simmons-like narrative – but for staking claim on the catchphrase “Stop the Insanity!!” in the 90’s. Her ultimate fame came not from her success, but from her outrageous gimmic driven character and tagline.
I remember it being a common thing among my friends and colleagues to cry out these three word as a humourous way to downplay unnecessary drama or chaos. In a modern context, it was a meme that needed no alteration of the original context. It was funny. It was rhetoric.
When it stopped being rhetorical to me
Fast forward to the early 2000’s and the term ‘insanity’ had a new and very real meaning to me personally. I was diagnosed with severe depression. I was also made aware that I suffered from anxiety. Hence began my journey toward stopping my own insanity. Sadly, that’s exactly what it was to me at the time: putting an end to my shameful and unacceptable insanity.
Fast forward to now, fifteen years and a few bouts later, and I am in a good place. I’ve amassed so many experiences and so much discipline and practice that have brought me to a level of accepting and even embracing my personal sanity challenges on a daily basis. And for all of it, I am thankful. I guess you could say i’ve learned to embrace the insanity? I’m a little bit Buddhist.
I regularly take advantage of the very word “insanity” just about every day, with a well-known quote which triggers me to pause and seek a different approach to something that frustrates me:
Insanity Is Doing the Same Thing Over and Over Again and Expecting Different ResultsAlbert Einstein (allegedly)
Insanity is such a passé term… Or is it?
Aside from the mental illness connotation the word, as we all know, also refers to ‘extreme foolishness or irrationality‘ as Google Dictionary puts it. It’s the perfect descriptor of what I feel is going on out there right now. I say ‘out there’ because as a privileged white man living in my bubble of isolation in the affluent town of Oakville (often referred to as The Bubble) in Canada, I feel conflicted about what I can or should do to stop any of it.
The pandemic, the racism, the politics, the environment, the sexism… Where does a Wiseguy like me belong in all of this? Honestly, I don’t know.
I’m tempted to say I don’t really have an opinion worth sharing for any of it. Not because they’re not important to me. Not because I don’t care about all of these things. It saddens me deeply that so many of my fellow humans are so challenged right now. But because living the life of the aforementioned and privileged white guy, I am honestly not impacted much by it. Oppression is nothing I’ve ever had to experience, and I am so fortunate. Any outward facing stance I take will be one based on ignorance, judgement, and ego… Aren’t these precisely the things that cause the insanity I’m referring to?
Should I say something? I should say something.
Nope, for now I will follow my well practiced advice of asking myself the non-rhetorical question: What am I going to do differently in hopes of a different outcome? To which I respond: I’m going to uncharacteristically shut up, stand back, observe and contemplate all this shit. I will ask, I will listen, I will learn. And then, if I do have something to say I will exercise my right to say it, because that is all I’ve ever known. I’m THAT fortunate.
In order to respectfully attempt to Stop the Insanity, I’m going to take this time to let others speak. One less voice creating noise.
Just pause, take care of yourself and stay safe.
I’ll say nothing more.
SP Wiseguy out