AKA Uncle Bruce
Crewmember Green suffered from manic depression. A condition he fought all his life. He was, for the most part, able to function amazingly well. And them not so much. His condition degenerated. Not enough support. Or not enough medication, or too much medication. Or not enough ability to stick with what did work. Or accept what was probably as good as it got. At best he was a striking genius, amazingly funny and articulate. Kind, enjoyable, and full of the best stories a person could want to hear. At worst he was angry, dysfunctional, nonsensical. Crewmember Green made this journey all the same. There are ways in which he made it magical. I trust and I prey that he is in a much more accommodating space now. And free.
There is a story I love attributed to teachings of the Sufi Masters. It is called When the Waters Were Changed. It goes something like this. One day God called upon mankind with a warning. He said that at an appointed time he would change the water. Men were to collect water and store it away for that time. After the water was changed, it would make men go mad. One man listened to the advice and collected water and stored it away. One day the waterfalls stopped flowing and then they started again. The man took this to mean the water had been changed. So he began to drink his stored water. The next day he wert to his village and all the people were talking and acting different. He quickly realized that they thought he was crazy. Some were harsh, and some were compassionate, but none of them remembered the warning about the water. The man continued to drink his water until one day, unable to bear the loneliness, he decided to drink the changed water himself. From that day on the villagers looked upon him as a crazy man who had been miraculously cured. He forgot all about the store of water he had concealed in his cave.
Sometimes I think we have all drank the changed water. Some of us have worse reactions to it than others. We call them crazy. Because their insanity somehow sets them apart from our insanity. They don’t function well doing the crazy things we do. They have too much stress, or instability, or emotional distress. They drag on the ship and slow us down as we try to steer ourselves insistently toward our goals and objectives, All the while we mutter and cast pitting, head shakes. Or we wish those crazy among us would just get it together. Sometimes they are fixed by a new drug, or therapy regime, or made functional by behavioral tinkering. Adaptations. Sometimes they just get slowly, steadily worse. Their kind of crazy just doesn’t work with our kind of crazy. Often it ends badly. And we are left with out the drag on our ship, or with out the worry and the nagging guilt of neglecting them too much. And we are free to go about our days and drink our beloved water.