Tuesday, 12 January 2016

The right kind of crazy

Sometimes in the Winter I feel I'm spending my whole life looking for sunshine. On endless grey days I hunt out yellow books, scarves and dresses. I cook orange food and devour kilo upon kilo of oranges and clementines. Lemon juice flavours every dish I put on the table. It is as if I crave the light and the warmth of the golden globe that is our promise of life and have to find it everywhere I can.

At the weekend after some amazing storms, the sun actually shone and we gathered in the best places in our house to collect its delicate rays, sitting, our faces upturned to the light, drinking it in. It reminded me of walking with the children in Paris on frozen days when our breath hung in the air in front of our mouths with every exhale and calling to them, 'turn your faces to the sun, take off your gloves and put your palms up to the light - we need our vitamin ds'. Yes I am a little crazy if you didn't know that already. I've always thought a little crazy was just the right balance. Crazy enough to dance in the street and sing in the train, to run like mad with my daughter just because she asks me to even though I am far too old and (mostly) dignified to be seen running like that. The worse thing being that she beats me every time. Crazy enough to shimmy round my kitchen when my favourite songs play on the radio and to headbang with my best pal in front of our shocked and possibly embarrassed children. Crazy enough to talk to myself and make up endless stories in my head about the people I see around me and not to be embarrassed about it - I am too old for that! Just a little crazy.

I have been thinking about this a lot the last few days. We watched Man on a Wire on Sunday evening and I was struck by the light of madness in Philippe Petit's eyes. If you don't know this film, I highly recommend it. It is about Petit's 1974 high-wire walk between the Twin Towers and it is funny, touching and awe inspiring. But the bottom line is this, only someone a bit crazy would step out onto a piece of wire pulled between the roofs of two buildings, a quarter of a mile above ground! Not only does he walk though, he dances, he lies down, he kneels. And it is incredibly beautiful. His childlike attitude is very sweet although you feel the weight he places on the shoulders of those who surrounded and supported him with their more mature attitudes and concerns. Without them he couldn't have done it but they were all crazy enough to agree to his insane plan and help him make it a reality.

Crazy enough. 

And then yesterday, Monday morning I woke up, turned on the radio and heard these words, 'David Bowie is dead'. Throughout the day my radio was tuned in to the BBC as I bore witness to an amazing outpouring of love for the genius that was David Bowie. An artist who has held a firm place in the soundtrack of my family's life as we've danced and sung along to Life On Mars more times that I can remember. Maya and Noah love the man, or is it a girl mummy? with the pink hair and the blue eyeshadow. And I think that ambiguity says so much. For me, Bowie was just the right amount crazy. Ephemeral, always changing, unpredictable and fun and touched by a hint of magic, of something otherworldly so hard to define. 

I was amazed by how many lives Bowie had touched, by the outpouring of grief that felt very genuine to me. But mostly I was amazed and impressed by how many people felt that his shining example had somehow paved the way, given them permission to be themselves, to live their own lives however they pleased. What an amazing legacy, not only to have epitomised freedom, sexual, artistic, musical freedom himself but also to have given the gift of freedom, of difference, to so many others.

So I shall go on being a little bit crazy, in fact I think I may even try to cultivate more craziness in my life even if that sounds weird. I have never tried to be normal because I realised very early on how impossible that was for me as for so many others. Today I feel like celebrating the differences even more than before. 

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