Sanders: Unknown limitations can lead to success

Published 8:37 pm Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Crazy can mean so much from a “low down put down” to a term of endearment. It can also mean beyond exceptional. I want to explore the beyond exceptional. Have you heard people say that “crazy” people are stronger, run faster, lift more, have greater stamina and perform all kinds of feats way beyond the ability of “normal” people? I don’t know whether there is truth in this perception of “crazy,” but I know I have heard it a lot. In fact, I sometimes apply it to myself. When we are crazy, we don’t know our own limitations so we keep exceeding them.

I keep a tremendous schedule.  People who know me personally often ask, “How do you do all you do?” Many who do not know me personally but read the sketches ask, “How do you keep going and going?” I always answer, only half in jest, “When we are crazy, we don’t know our own limitations so we keep exceeding them.”

I don’t think I am “crazy” in the sense of being mentally ill. However, I do find myself keeping a schedule that some perceive as “crazy.” It’s “crazy” because it is perceived as beyond the pale.

I will be 75 years old within a few days. Still I work 14-16 hour days. The perception is that a 75-year-old fat man should not be able to work so long and hard. Of course, age and weight are not necessarily limitations but are widely perceived as such. If we think these are limitations, they become limitations. If we don’t think they are a limitations they do not become such. If we are “crazy” enough to defy the perceived limitations of age and weight, we strip the power from these conditions.

Being in the Alabama State Senate is demanding for anyone. However, it is far more demanding when the district is the largest in the state land wise (senators and representatives receive the same salary although Senate districts are three times larger with three times the population). This Senate district includes 10 counties, 14 boards of education, nearly 40 cities and towns, numerous organizations and other entities, 112,000 citizens of diverse circumstances, and a land area that runs about 150 miles north and south and over a hundred miles east and west. It is a huge challenge. But I am “crazy,” so I handle it.

It would be more than enough just to perform the duties of an Alabama State Senator. It is more than fulltime. However, the Alabama Legislature is a “part time office” so we still must earn a living. I am a lawyer with a full case load while also serving as the managing partner of our law firm. No wonder I work all these crazy hours.

I try to communicate with everyone who wants to communicate with me. They come in all shapes, sizes and colors. They do not just come from Alabama but across the country. They come in person. They come by phone. They come by mail. The come by email and text. They come by Facebook. They come by day and by night. I am “crazy” enough to try to communicate with all of them even if I don’t always succeed. I am often asked, “How do you find the time to call so many people on their birthdays, during their sickness and death in the family and other occasions.

There are always funerals to attend. There are celebrations to attend. There are various other events to attend. They all take time and effort. But we keep going. I work with many organizations and initiatives. They run the gambit from political to historical to legal to youth to elderly to community to whatever. I help whenever and wherever I can. I keep going and going.

People ask about Senate Sketches in particular.  “How,” they ask, “do you write Sketches every week?” They often declare that writing a column would consume their entire week, leaving no time to perform other duties. I have written Sketches 1583 straight weeks over 30 years without a miss. That is true whether I am in Selma, Africa, Europe, Asia, South America, Canada, Cuba or the hospital. I also wrote a novel, Death of a Fat Man.

Just writing this particular Sketches has convinced me that I am truly “crazy.” The evidence is everywhere. When we are crazy, we don’t know our own limitations so we keep exceeding them. Crazy is as crazy does. We can do “bad crazy.” We can do “good crazy.” It’s alright to be crazy if our craziness lifts others. Are you a little crazy?