Strangely, I had never heard the song, but the other day as I was driving and listening to the car radio, Katie Melua’s “The closest thing to crazy” caught my attention.
First of all, because it is a beautiful melody. And this melody, together with the words, becomes an irresistible mix that inevitably reminded me of how most of us, at some point in our lives, feel “close to crazy”. Always having to do with love, of course.
When we are young to be “crazy in love” is the most natural thing; I would dare to say it’s the natural state of a teenager. The heart beating faster when you see that special someone, a dry throat when you see him approaching you at a dance, a sudden kiss that takes your breath away, all the passion of the first time you make love to each other….being young, and in love, is feeling wild, reckless, daring to do things you would not have imagined possible – in fact, “the closest thing to crazy” is the most perfect way to describe it, and I take my hat off to Katie Melua for doing it so well.
Most interestingly, Katie’s story is not about teenage love, it applies to love at any age. Because, amazing as it may seem, if falling crazily in love isn’t the monopoly of the young, it inevitably makes all its “victims” feel like teenagers again. I wonder why.
When I was young I thought falling in love was only for people up to a certain age (when people got married this would be a closed matter as, I naively thought, they were supposed to love each other for the rest of their lives- anyway, most of them) but even then there would be some gossip about someone who had “lost his (or her) head ” and left everything for love. And these stories were usually about mature people. Of course there were the classical romances like Madame Bovary and such, but then these cases would be exceptions and not the rule. But as I grew up I more and more such stories happened around me and I saw friends walking out on supposedly happy – or at least stable – marriages of decades, leaving behind distraught spouses and unhappy children, and when I asked them why, they would just say they had fallen in love – unavoidably, crazily, as in their teens. And they went on to live these new passions as if they were given a new chance in life.
I was never judgemental but I must say I was somewhat condescending – after all trying to recover our teenage days was not possible, it must be an illusion…how wrong I was.
One day, it happened to me. Like the others, I was hit hard and when I understood what was going on I was feeling exactly as in the song; “the closest thing to crazy”. In my forties, newly divorced, the excitement was unbearable, I could not sleep at night, my heart would beat like crazy when I saw him, I would spend an extraordinary amount of time texting back and forth, I remember the thrill of the first dance together, secret meetings and reckless weekend escapades…in fact, doing many of the crazy things I had done as a teenager in love. And feeling very much alive as I hadn’t for many years.
In addition to having the time of my life at a time when I was least expecting it I learned a valuable lesson: our heart does not age. As long as you’re alive, you can fall in love, and live this emotion with the same intensity (if not more) of your youth. And do the same crazy things. As I did. As did a friend who after a painful divorce in his fifties met his soul mate and together they decided they wanted to have a child together, now a lovely one year-old baby who is the delight of its parents and elder brothers and sister; as did another who persisted in a passionate relationship even if her lover finally ended up going back to his wife; or yet another, a famous writer who at 79 left everything for his new love, referring to the year he had spent with her as “the happiest of his life”. And so many others.
I listen to the words in the song:
This is the closest thing to crazy/I have ever been /feeling 22, acting 17/ this is the nearest thing to crazy/I have ever known / I was never crazy /on my own /and now I know/ that there’s a link between the two /being close to craziness/ and being close to you.
I cannot help smiling and recalling how marvellous it is, later in life, to “feel like 22 and act like 17”. Falling in love later in life is like a true potion of youth. Definitely, the closest thing to crazy.
I silently thank Katie Melua for such a beautiful, inspiring song.