Sometimes doing something insane is totally sane.

When comedian Jon Stewart announced his “Rally to Restore Sanity” on the National Mall on October 30, my husband said, “That would be so cool. I wish I could go.” I said, “Go. And take Robin.” Our daughter is a senior in high school, taking both government and video production, so that impulsive decision turned into the memory of a lifetime for her. She has already used her experiences at the rally for college application essays and a school arts contest, and she has begun to solidify her liberal political and religious views, softened with a healthy dose of tolerance for other points of view. Her interest in film is growing into a passion.  

And speaking of college application essays, I’m quite sure that her choice to illustrate her personality with a mouth-watering description of her quest for the perfect recipe for homemade macaroni and cheese will gain her a few scholarships. It’s too bad she can’t send samples to the admissions committees.

I’ve had my share of off-the-wall decisions that turned out to be life-changing moments. When a musician from Maui that I barely knew came to California to play harp for the Play of Daniel and invited everyone who had participated to come do the thirteenth century liturgical drama in Hawaii, only two of us took her up on the offer. My gut feeling response led to several performances on Maui and at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, and wonderful friendships with a group of talented people who like to travel to Europe the cheap way–by renting castles for lodging. 

Playing music at Renaissance faires is truly insane. Four recorders compete for attention with jousting and ale gardens; we really only win when we pull out the crumhorns, which went extinct for a reason. The costumes were made for England at a time of global cooling, not the Central Valley of California in summer. No one should play a wind instrument wearing a corset and hoop skirt.  I share this insanity, however, with talented musicians, dancers, and improvisational actors–not to mention the woman who prepares the noon banquet for the court and saves leftovers for those of us at the end of the precedence line.  

I wanted for a long time to go on to graduate school after marriage and kids made that difficult when I was in my twenties. When my youngest child was in middle school and I could afford the time and tuition, I looked at several “practical” programs in counseling and education. I chose instead a liberal arts masters program which allowed me to study literature, theology, arts, languages, and history all at once, and I had great fun pursuing my passions. The first class I took was “Magic, Alchemy, and Witchcraft in the Middle Ages,” and I wrote my thesis on Anglo-Saxon medicine. That may never translate into a career, unless I can write the next bestseller in the Harry Potter genre, but I’ve never enjoyed classes more. What I spent on tuition I saved on mental health therapy.

Some crazy decisions are hard to cast as sane. I’m still wrestling with my son’s decision to run with the bulls at Pamplona when we sent him to Spain for a month to work on his fluency in Spanish. The best I can do is conclude that whatever we survive makes a good story afterward.

Next up–a trip to Iceland?


Author: 1womanretreat

Kathryn is a freelance writer, musician, and Latin tutor based in the Sierra foothills. She enjoys performing and teaching early music on recorder and flute.

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