I was standing at our kitchen island packing my lunch and mentally organizing my day when I heard my older 7-year-old daughter say to her twin sister, “Isabel. I’m in the crazy column!”
Isabel didn’t look up—she kept her head bent over her cereal bowl and said, “I know Julia!” with as much disdain and boredom as she could muster.
Normally, any conversation between the twins is purely background noise—taking second place to the rush to get all seven of us dressed, showered, fed and out the door on time.
But today, the words broke through the clutter.
I looked up, not sure I’d heard her quite right. I had to ask.
“Julia, what’s the crazy column?”
Instead of answering, she started laughing and began dancing weirdly around the island making goofy faces and unseemly noises.
I smiled and asked again, “What’s the crazy column?”
She finally answered. “Paul (a boy at school) saw me and Lauren dancing around our desks yesterday and he told us he was putting us in the ‘crazy column’.”
I started laughing—imagining this 7-year-old boy organizing his classmates by columns—crazy and not-crazy.
“Yeah, Lauren’s in the crazy column. Piper’s in the crazy column, but Isabel is not!”
“I know Julia,” yelled Isabel. “I don’t want to be in the crazy column.”
The fun devolved for a few minutes as the twins argued.
I knew better than to get involved and went back to packing my lunch.
A few minutes later, Julia came up to me and said, “Joey’s in the crazy column, too. Yesterday, he spent the whole day walking like a robot.”
Then, she started stiffly walking back around the island, mimicking her robot friend. I began to feel sorry for her teacher.
As I drove to work, I couldn’t help but think about the crazy column. As an adult, how would I define “crazy?” I don’t think I would define it as having the confidence to make a spectacle of myself simply for attention—like my daughter and her friends apparently did. No, I think, I would define “crazy” as a general willingness to put myself out there and take a chance or a calculated risk.
If that’s the definition, I think, more often than not, I’m a member of the crazy column.
And, by that definition, I think the folks who created the projects in our annual Project Portfolio are also justifiably crazy. They all took calculated risks to create new places and spaces for their communities with amazing results—as you’ll see.
This might also be a good sentiment as we roll into the holiday season. Maybe this is the perfect time of the year to join the crazy column? Or, if you’re already a member, maybe take on a new project and become even crazier!
If all else fails, you can dance around your kitchen making funny faces and unseemly noises. Your family might not appreciate it, but I bet you’ll feel better when you’re done.
Rodney J. Auth