By Wes “Scoop” Nisker
We human beings are basically sense-making creatures.
The motivation to make sense of the world and our place in it, in fact, turns out to be deeply rooted in our evolutionary drive to survive. But what happens when life stops making sense—as it often does—or when our compulsion towards rationality begins to drive us bonkers?
Growing up in the rigidly structured world of 1950s America, Wes “Scoop” Nisker wrestled with such daunting questions and the nagging suspicion that the human condition was essentially absurd. Rather than sinking into a nihilistic funk, Nisker found consolation in the profoundly foolish insights of the world’s sages, poets, shamans, and holy fools—seekers who not only embraced life’s messy uncertainty, but danced a metaphysical jig with it.
In his underground classic Crazy Wisdom, Nisker offers a motley collection of unconventional wisdom he’s compiled from across cultures, combined with his mindfully humorous musings on the paradoxical nature of existence. In it, he reminds us that everyone from Albert Einstein to Zen masters have pointed out that life is “both meaningful and meaningless, important and insignificant, a joke and a yoke.” Because we’ve evolved from this self-subverting, yin-yang reality, Nisker suggests that perhaps it’s ok not to take ourselves quite so seriously.
Although making sense of who we are and why we’re here remains necessary for surviving, Crazy Wisdom points out that in the big, irrational scheme of things, slowing down and relaxing, learning less of doing and more of being, is ultimately what makes survival worthwhile.