Yesterday on my way from one work to another (does it already sound a bit crazy?) someone at the bus stop got attention not only mine but others as well: a young guy was performing peculiar pantomimic dance with a crystal ball. At first his behaviour did look a bit crazy, but then I saw a smile on his face that said, “I know what you think of me, but no, I’m not…”. He got on the same bus, and even sat across me. He took out another ball, this one was blue, and carried out with his sphere-play magic to the sheer delight of the two young kids across him. You could see that the kids never questioned the guy’s sanity, they were sincerely fascinated by his wizardry with the ball, while adults were looking at him quite impressed yet trying to appear indifferent.

Later I talked with the guy, he told me: “I know it looks like I’m crazy, but I’m not. It actually makes a good conversation piece to start on the bus”. Turned out that it’s his hobby he started a year or so ago, that this sphere-play is actually a discipline practiced by many, and called Contact Juggling. I found this short movie below on YouTube, the guy on the bus was performing very similar tricks.

Labyrinth - David Bowie There are three forms of contact juggling, and the one I saw yesterday is actually called isolationism, characterized by manipulation of a sphere that appears to be suspended in time and place while the performer dances around it. Even in the 1986 fantasy film Labyrinth (directed by Jim Henson, produced by George Lucas), David Bowie’s character is performing contact juggle throughout the film.

What I was most impressed with yesterday was not the sphere playing but the fact that this guy wasn’t afraid to share his hobby, no matter how crazy it looked, with the rest of us. It made me question once again what “crazy” means, and how crazy I am, how crazy we all are? Who are we to label someone crazy? What if we’re crazy in the eyes of those whose sanity we question? How thin is the line separating a truly passionate person from a crazy one?

These lines from Don McLean’s song “Vincent” came to my mind:

Now I think I know
What you tried to say to me
How you suffered for your sanity
How you tried to set them free
They would not listen they’re not listening still
Perhaps they never will…

Perhaps what the world is lacking is the truly impassioned people whose enthusiasm is contagious and zealousness is inspiring. There are millions of blogs in the blogiverse, but unfortunately only a small number of those sites leave us in awe and amazement from all the knowledge and passion that’s graciously and generously given to us by the blog’s author(s).

Have you ever been called crazy? How did it make you feel? Are you exposing or willing to show your crazy side to others? How hard is it for you to stay true to yourself? Do you have favourite crazy bloggers, authors whom you love to read? What does the word “crazy” mean to you? Whom would you call “crazy”? How crazy are you?

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21 Insightful Bits in response to “How Crazy Are You?”

  1. Well, this is one inspiring post.
    That video is incredible. Don’t recall seeing that sort of thing before. I don’t think I’ll be trying it though — I’ll just wind up breaking things.

    Passion is often mistaken for insanity — though most often by those who are insanely unimpassioned.
    Thanks for today’s inspiring bit.

  2. well, as a counsellor, this has special meaning to me :)

    when i first came to canada, one of my daughter’s friends looked at me and said, “you are weeeeird!” i still remember grinning and taking that as a compliment.

  3. Yes, “weird” (out of the ordinary) can certainly be a great compliment. If someone said to me — instead of “weird” — “ordinary!”, I’d be mortified.

  4. Vivien

    Thanks, John. Actually, I did try that ball, and one of my questions to that guy was “How many balls did you break to master all those tricks”? He said that those balls don’t break, they’re made of acrylic, they scratch, but don’t break. So you can safely give the sphere-playing a try. I have to admit – it did feel good in hands :-)

    “Passion is often mistaken for insanity — though most often by those who are insanely unimpassioned.” – this is so true!

    Lucky you, Isabella. I’ve never been called “weird”. I guess I’m just too “square” ;-( I have been called “crazy” many many times in my life though.

  5. I don’t know why they call me crazy. I am just doing foolish things I like. That sounds more sane than doing foolish things I don’t like. Next time they call me crazy, I’ll get my toy gun and shoot.

  6. OK, I’ll be the first:
    Vivien you are weird ;)

    I wasn’t thinking of breaking the balls (perhaps I should rephrase that), but of breaking everything else within a 10 meter radius.

    I might start off with a sponge ball, though I don’t think I’ll be posting my efforts on Youtube any time soon.

  7. Your story reminds me of a time when I was a teenager, and together with a bunch of friends used to play deaf in the subway. We did not talk at all, we just used our hands and mimic to communicate, and all people were looking at us with compassion… It was so much fun! One day, while we were playing our game, a child asked his mother: “what’s wrong with these guys, mom? Can’t they talk?”. He had such an innocent look in his eyes, that we burst into laughter, so our secret was revealed.

    Speaking of crazyness, I don’t label anybody as crazy. I’m convinced that behind every action, no matter how strange, there’s a reason, even if I’m not able to see it. I’m a believer (which many times may translate into sucker) and it feels good: I have less worries ;)

  8. i find being a believer (bleeding heart, sucker, innocent, naive – pick your adjective) to be a very good investment in my sanity, as well. yes, once in a while i get “suckered in” – but how much better than spending all day long making sure that no-one takes advantage of me, always out for number 1, always suspicious of my fellow man and woman.

  9. Anne Campbell

    I love encountering the unexpected and would have found this fellow delightful. But hey, I’m a New Yorker :) My aunt, visiting from Pennsylvania, gave her N.Y.C. experience: “I saw a man with a potato sack over his head. But what was really weird is that nobody seemed to notice him.”

  10. Vivien

    Dandellion, you don’t need a toy gun, just use your index finger ;-) I don’t know you well enough to call “crazy”, but you’re definitely not your average Joe. Actually, I’m still not 100% sure whether you’re a “Joe” or “Joanne” ;-)

    Johno, thanks for the “weird” honour. It feels like I got knighted :-)
    I doubt you’ll get very far with the sponge, but I guess it’s worth trying :-)

    Simonne, you’re crazily funny :-) Kids… you just can’t hide the truth from them, can you? They can see through us.

    I agree with you both – Simonne and Isabella – life is no fun when we are always suspicious of others.
    I’m always trying to see the good things about the person and remember about them.

    So often people forget all the good things about others and remember only about their latest mishap or not a nice behaviour.

  11. Vivien

    “what was really weird is that nobody seemed to notice him”.. haha, that was really funny, Anne :-)

    I haven’t really encountered anyone out of ordinary in NYC, but then I guess I didn’t stay there long enough. The only weird thing I saw there was your taxi cabs – they made me feel like I’m being taken to jail – with that tough wall with the small glass (acrylic) window at the top, separating the taxi driver from the back seat.

  12. Wow, nice video clip! I wonder how long David Bowie had to practice for in Labyrinth. I loved that movie as a kid, though when I tried watching it again a year or two back it just didn’t have the same magic. Still, it’ll always hold memories for me.

    If I’m not mistaken, the backing music on that YouTube clip is from Boards of Canada, an Edinburgh based group. Coincidental how Canada and Scotland are combined in one of your posts. ;)

  13. Vivien

    huh, yes that was quite a coincidence, David. It’s interesting to see a Scottish band choosing such a Canadian name :-)
    The music in that video is very soothing. I was a bit confused with all that conversation in the background. Do you know if it’s a typical thing for Boards Of Canada compositions – to add some talk to the song?

  14. That particular track is either an intro or and outro on one of their albums. The music is usually a lot harder than that, with a heavy kind of break-beat base line.

  15. Cool! It would have been awesome to see that guy in person! And you actually tried this, Vivien? It takes some courage to ask a perfect stranger to try something like that. Must’ve been a great experience!

    I remember the blue hands that formed themselves into faces in Labyrinth (now that was weird!) and that’s about it. I don’t remember the contact juggling. I never knew this was a fairly widespread hobby! What a wonderful new thing to learn today.

    Everybody seems a little crazy at times until you get to know them, and then the way they act/react makes perfect sense! I laughed when I read John’s comment that he would be offended if someone called him ordinary. I’ll have to remember never to do that!

  16. Vivien

    Oh, Lauren – I wouldn’t call it a courage, but rather a curiousity: I just wanted to feel that ball, didn’t really try much of his tricks though. :-)

    Glad you’ve learned smth today, including on how not to offend John ;-)

  17. Thom

    Hello from Edinburgh.

    wow, this made my day a little bit. You see, that’s me in that video (quite a long time ago, I have more control but less hair now) and reading your post about the contactavist that you met made me smile.

    I can identify with what you saw and I see a lot of myself in the performer that you encountered, I practice whenever and wherever I can, it’s an addictive hobby and I like to think that I’ve made a few people’s days slightly more surreal.

    Everyone reacts in different ways and some people can get angry or spiteful if they see something they don’t understand, or if they can’t see the ‘trick’. Still this amuses me because I know that I just short-circuited a bit of their brain.

    If anyone does want to learn, youtube “brinechild” for some tutorials that i made, google the ministry of manipulation and read their articles and sign up to the contactjuggling.org forums.

    Good luck and take it easy

    Thom (Brinechild)

  18. Vivien

    Wow, Thom, thanks so much for dropping by. I did kind of figured out that this hobby can get pretty addictive.
    I’m glad though that there are people like you who are “short-circuiting” people’s brains a bit :-)

    Do you have any of your new videos posted on YouTube? It would be interesting to see what kind of tricks with the ball you can perform now?!

    So, looks like David was right then about the background music being performed by the Scottish band… ;-)

  19. Thom

    aye that’s the stuff, as I said youtube brinechild to find the newest videos and some tutorials as well.

  20. Thom, it was so fun to watch you at the Harry Potter premier! Those kids were in awe! It was cute :) Thank you for stopping by and pointing us to more amazing videos! How cool! I love your choice of music, it’s just as “crazy” as the hobby ;)

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Hi, I'm Vivien. Thanks for visiting my Inspiration Bit. I often find myself scouring the internet looking for either answers to many questions I have or websites that inspire me, sites that I can learn from. On what topics you might ask — any topics that interest me, anything from web design to typography and art, from blogging to entrepreneurship, from programming to open source.
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When I'm not blogging, I design web sites, teach, play with my daughter and try to balance family, work, friends and a somewhat active social life on