In a world gone mad, it’s fine to be a little crazy

  • FemaleGraduate2
Philip K Dick, an American science-fiction author, once offered some much needed advice: “Don’t try to solve serious matters in the middle of the night.” For many nights at the beginning of April 2020, I lay awake at 02:00, thinking. I desperately tried to explain to myself why the world had gone crazy. But I just wasn’t making any sense.
by TAMAR HEILBRUNN | May 28, 2020

I would then usually finish my early morning snack, go to sleep, and hope it might make more sense in the morning. Alas it didn’t. Philip K Dick, however, said something else, and roughly nine weeks after lockdown, I find it reassuring: “It’s sometimes an appropriate response to reality to go insane.” We have all gone insane, no doubt about that.

Three months ago, I was a third-year student hoping to graduate. Now, all I hope to do is “graduate” from my bed in the morning, donning my (fluffy) “graduation” gown. It’s a victory when I finally reach my desk at 11:30. Instead of lectures, I stare at a computer for hours – no pens, books, or peers needed. Just read along the dotted line. Majoring in psychology is enjoyable, but in a COVID-19 environment, it comes with its risks. I used to be able to psychoanalyse my peers at Wits (the University of the Witwatersrand), but now I find myself resorting to asking the sock on my desk how it’s coping. On really bad days, it responds.

Friendships have also had to adjust. Zoom and WhatsApp have allowed me to stay in touch with more people than I usually would have spoken to in a week. My friends and I often have a games night. Before COVID-19, Monopoly would frequently destroy friendships. Now, no one can see the board, so we are all winners. This tactic is really saving our relationships.

At times like this, I really appreciate my family. They are, in fact, the only non-fuzzy, unmasked faces I see. It’s quite refreshing to talk to someone where the lips are synced with the sound regardless of the stability of the internet connection. I’ll be honest, I’m Zoomed out.

Being stuck at home hasn’t been as bad as I’d originally thought. I’ve managed to read through almost my entire list of English set works. This is a record for someone who usually writes English literature exams without having read most of the literature. I’ve even managed to extend my literary reading to every magazine in our house, the fridge magnets, and some old recipe books. I’m pretty well read by now.

So, yes, I’ve decided that in order to respond to this strange new reality, if I have sock-talking, wall-climbing, Zoom-numbing, recipe-burning, hair-wrenching days, it’s okay. Insanity is, indeed, the only appropriate response to an insane situation.

There is something delightful in not having a hum-drum routine, but a crazy one. There is something rejuvenating about losing old habits (like packing university lunch), and gaining news ones (like needing a meal at 02:00). The world is now, in fact, a Mad Hatters Tea Party. Have you gone mad? You almost certainly have, but fear not, says Lewis Carroll, “We are all mad here.”

  • Tamar Heilbrunn is in her third year Bachelor of Arts degree, majoring in psychology, English, and Zulu at the University of the Witwatersrand.

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