Sometimes You Have to be a Little Bit Crazy

My uncle looked at me.

“You know, to live this life you’re living, make these kinds of decisions, you have to be a little bit crazy,” he said. The worrying thing is, his face showed no sign of amusement.

I nodded and smiled.

“I know.”

* * * * *

It’s been one month since we returned from our four-month trip around the United States. It’s been one month since the tachometer turned over its 9800th mile, we crossed through the 31st state, and we pulled our big blue bus named Willie into my parents’ driveway.

One month. Sometimes it feels like we never took that trip – it feels like it happened in a dream, or underwater, or in a book that I read.

But here we are. We returned to empty bank accounts and not a major project to be found. I realized it was time to scrap for work, so I took anything I could find: working at a farmers’ market, writing SEO articles, and driving Amish people from one place to another.

And, with the help of family and friends, we inched along.

* * * * *

“People thought I was crazy when I quit my job and took out a second mortgage on my house so that I could start my business ten years ago,” my uncle said, shrugging as if to say, And who could blame them? “And maybe it was. Maybe it was crazy. Maybe what you’re doing is crazy.”

I nodded. He sold his business two years ago for a substantial amount of money.

“Yeah,” I said. “It feels that way sometimes.”

“I see a lot of people think about chasing their dreams,” he said, looking off into the distance. “You see them go up to the edge, but security draws them back in, and I shake my head. But I can’t blame them.”

He shrugs and says it again. “I can’t blame them.”

* * * * *

Last week, thanks to a wonderful reference by a friend of mine, I landed my first big project since we’ve returned from our trip. With more in the pipeline. A lot more.

I feel like, finally, I’ve turned the corner. After almost three years of digging and searching and striving, I get a sense that I’m making headway. My mindset has changed, and I’ve learned so much.

There were a lot of times along the way when I wanted to give up on trying to make a living writing, telling other people’s stories. But here I am. I made it this far.

* * * * *

You could do it, too, you know. You could start that business or plant that church or make that move. You could begin the process to adopt or provide foster care. You could create that non-profit. You could live a different life than you’re currently living.

Sometimes you just have to be a little bit crazy.

49 Replies to “Sometimes You Have to be a Little Bit Crazy”

  1. Shawn, Maile and family,

    Please do not stop writing about your experiences and your lives. I suppose you could say I am living vicariously through your descriptive experiences, for you see, I do not have the courage and nerve to begin anew. To be honest, at times I a look at your choices and wonder how you could be so irresponsible when you have a family to provide for. at other times I so admire the courage you display when allowing yourself to follow your dreams. I look forward to continuing this journey with you.

    1. I appreciate your honesty, Donna, and I have the same responses you do from time to time. Whenever someone approaches me and asks if they should leave their job to chase after their dream, I always, “No! Don’t do it!” because the only way you are really ready to do something like this is if you have to do it, in spite of everyone telling you not to.

  2. The myth of security was/is slowly killing me. I will be pushing forward harder than ever to be “a little more crazy.”

  3. Shawn: I am crazy and I like it. I would rather be crazy than be normal. I am not like anyone else and I do not want to be like anyone else. Some people might not like me and others might want to be like me. Maybe they just want to simply let loose and be crazy. The crazy life is not so bad.
    You have a lot of strength and courage my man. Best wishes to you on your journey and never stop what your doing! I recently found your blog, but you have my respect.

  4. Amen, brother! Every cool story ever written always stems from something crazy, unexplainable, or uncommon.

  5. I know this is going to sound lame but…we, or maybe more I, stepped out of our comfort zone on Friday and adopted a kitten. I have never had a furry pet in my life. Since I’ve been married, we’ve only had fish. My husband is a dog person and only big dogs will do. But he said yes to the kitten. What’s even more amazing is it is an abandoned kitten and only somewhere in the 4 week range of age. Despite my rookie status as a furry pet owner, I think we are all adjusting well. My kids are ecstatic to have a pet of their own. They didn’t care if it was a dog or cat, just something they could love on. I’m amazed at how this little bundle of fur has lifted the spirit of this tired, worn out, 40-something lady.

    BTW: She has a brother who still needs a home. The girls and I would have taken both, but “the Man” said no way. Know anybody looking for a pet, especially a cat?

    1. Sometimes being willing to try something new might not look adventurous to the rest of the world. That’s why it’s so important that we all help each other out when it comes to getting outside of our comfort zones.

    1. Thanks for being so open and honest on your own blog, Michelle. Your journey is one I follow closely – you are such a talented writer and I can’t wait to see what happens for you.

  6. If being crazy is wrong, I don’t want to be right. For so many, the status quo is just fine. They can match their lives to the world. Carving away pieces of themselves to fit. I can’t and neither can you, it seems. Being crazy might also be called being who you were called to be. You is smart. Keep going.

  7. I definitely need to be more crazy — in a ‘quit talking and start doing something’ kind of a way. Thanks for the reminder. :)

  8. As a middle school teacher and a youth pastor’s wife, I spend a ridiculous amount of time investing in my school and my church. I have had some negative feedback because of that and it has been weighing on my heart. This is a good reminder that everyone doesn’t understand crazy. Thanks for the encouragement to keep investing in those people and those places.

    1. Andrea–investing in people’s lives at school and church…especially young people……those are the investments that change lives forever! Maybe some would call it crazy I would call it priceless.

      1. Thank you for your encouragement! I’ve just been a little discouraged lately because there are a few close to me that don’t seem to understand why weeding the garden and where the grass clippings land are not important to my husband and I. It’s good to get out of my head a little and hear what others have to say.

    2. We all need reminders from time to time that not everyone will understand why we do what we do, and that’s okay. It’s okay for them not to understand, and it’s okay for us to keep going. Blessings, Andrea.

  9. I am so proud of you, Shawn, and so happy to hear about the new opportunities headed your way. You are so talented and crazy dreamers as yourself deserve to be rewarded. Looking forward to seeing what comes next for you!

  10. This haunts me:

    “I see a lot of people think about chasing their dreams,” he said, looking off into the distance. “You see them go up to the edge, but security draws them back in, and I shake my head. But I can’t blame them.”

    He shrugs and says it again. “I can’t blame them.”

  11. You also must have one amazing wife. I don’t know what I would do if my hubby decided to travel around the u.s. in a bus, or whatever.

    1. I do have an amazing wife, Jess! But to be fair, the cross-country thing was as much her idea as it was mine, and I think she was more determined to make it happen than I was. At least some of the time.

  12. Shawn, thanks for blazing the trail… and for cheering on those of us who are traveling in your wake!

    BTW, I just Googled “crazy is as crazy does” to see who that is credited to and your photo came up. Seriously. :o)

    1. I can always count on you, Bethany, to find the Google searches where I show up on the first page. Thanks! Looking forward to our project.

  13. Cue flashback: Seal 1991.

    Part of my problem is I can’t decide on one dream; I just know I like to create. That includes writing (mostly non-fiction/theology/philosophy these days) as well as composing music. I also feel like I want to be a part of some sort of church movement that emphasizes common ground across denominations and re-establishing church unity and Christian brother/sisterhood with an emphasis on the Kingdom of Heaven. How all these pieces fit together, I don’t know, and that last ambition seems like a lost cause most of the time. Right now, though, my main focus is keeping my job, paying bills and trying to find a position at my company that I want to stay in for the long haul. Hopefully I can find room for the other stuff over time.

    1. You remind me so much of a close friend of mine. If you’re anything like him, you’re super-talented in just about everything you put your hand to. And to be honest, I don’t know the answer to that. Do you sacrifice your love of some things in order to get even more amazing at one thing? Or do you spread your talent evenly around? Sounds like you have your focus right for now – when the day arrives that you can put some time into your passions, don’t shy from discipline. All the best, man.

      1. Thanks. I usually try to spread things around the best I can. I’ll carve out a day off (or partial day) to work on music, another day (or evening after work) to blog/write. My blog feeds more into the whole “church movement” concept I’m envisioning, and I see it as an outgrowth of something that is already underway and is (hopefully) gaining traction, although the things I continue to see/read on Facebook aren’t always encouraging (hence the “lost cause” reference above). I appreciate the advice, Shawn. All the best to you as well.

      2. J.R., I can relate. I have a hard time choosing a dream. Two are more prevelant than others: musician and pastor (though writer creeps in there every once in a while) . . . they are all desires of mine. I can’t say I excel at any of them or am naturally or supernaturally gifted or super-talented in those areas. But I always find myself aching to pursue one of them, to get out of the nine to five day to day job I am in. To do either one would require me choosing and then focusing on one to develop the small amount of skill I do have and hoping that the hard work would blossom into the “super-talented”.

        So, like you, a few years ago I made a choice to focus on my job, pay the bills, maybe further my career and make a living at it. Thing is, the musician/pastor keep haunting me. I am at a place in my job where I need to make the decision to spend more time/money(on college) to focus on growing in my job, or dedicating that same time/money on developing the musician or pastor dream. It is difficult. Your story and Shawn’s blog help in my journey, if it is just to know others on a similar journey.

  14. Shawn,
    I just found you through your sister. I knew Shar growing up in Lancaster (my sister and her were good friends)

    Anyway… love, love, love what you are doing here! Your writing is captivating and your story beyond inspiring!

    So excited to stumble upon your blog! Excited to start following your journey!

    keep pushing
    keep moving
    keep pursuing the things that tug at your heart and make you come alive

  15. We are a little bit crazy like that. We are striving toward taking our four children to the Philippines to help friends with their youth ministry. I have to try and hid just how crazy we are from my family or endure the inevitable lecture about being responsible and blah, blah, blah. Of course my children rat me out often because they think our kind of crazy is wonderful and have no idea why we should try to hide such a thing. Love reading your thoughts – thank you for sharing and giving words to the sometimes difficult things to explain :)

  16. It has amazed me throughout the three years of our family’s life how the children have been so resilient. For the first three weeks of our trip, Maile and I were stressed out. I kept asking the kids how they were doing. They were loving every minute.

    Go for it! All the best.

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