Every so often, American novelist and poet Jack Kerouac’s prose poem, “Here’s To the Crazy Ones,” (see below) comes around again. Unfortunately, he’s not always given credit (these days credit often goes to Steve Jobs), but I’m grateful for the message. He and Allen Ginsburg were the founders of the Beat Generation in the 1950s. Although he died in 1969, much of his message remains very relevant today.
Having spent the first half of my professional life in the arts, I have often witnessed how “genius” and “crazy” seem to go hand in hand. No one creates brilliant, awe-inspiring, game-changing, life-changing anything by thinking and being the same as everyone else. It’s the ones who are different – the ones who dress differently, talk differently, think differently, act differently, and are willing to be seen as who they truly are – that break new ground and carry us to new horizons.
They won’t always be easy to be with. OK, that’s an understatement. Sometimes they’re really difficult to be with! Using genius as license to be self-centered, arrogant, and difficult is not OK. Yet knowing what you need in order to do big things and setting boundaries to give yourself the space to bring your brilliance into form is often necessary. There’s a fine line between them. It’s important to find the balance for a healthy and sustainably creative and productive life.
So in Jack Kerouac’s words, Here’s to the crazy ones. Because the people who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world are the ones who do. If you are one of the crazy ones, go for it! And if you have a “crazy one” in your life, nurture their genius and gently help them create the boundaries they need to bring their brilliance to life while, at the same time, finding their way in a sometimes unforgiving world.
Here’s to the crazy ones.
The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers.
The round pegs in the square holes.
The ones who see things differently.
They’re not fond of rules.
And they have no respect for the status quo.
You can praise them, disagree with them, quote them,
disbelieve them, glorify or vilify them.
About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them.
Because they change things.
They invent. They imagine.
They heal. They explore. They create. They inspire.
They push the human race forward.
Maybe they have to be crazy.
How else can you stare at an empty canvas and see a work of art?
Or sit in silence and hear a song that’s never been written?
Or gaze at a red planet and see a laboratory on wheels?
While some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius.
Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world,
are the ones who do.
– from the writings of Jack Kerouac
P.S. If you found this post and Jack Kerouac’s words interesting or thought-provoking, write a comment below and let’s get a conversation going. By sharing insights and perspectives, we all stretch our awareness and understanding.