Retarded Growth

It is early Spring and the elder trees are daring to emerge with new leaves. Shrubs and hedges are putting out their babies to reach for the newly emerging sun. Songbirds are swooping into the garden, blessing the world with their existence. Life promises to grow, the Winter is ending.

I should be free from frustration, but quite the opposite! The growth of everything else is reminding of my retarded growth and that of those around me.

We should be free to express, to spread our arms far and wide, to let go of troubles and cease counting how much grain is left over Winter. Instead, we have school kids forced to take responsibility for a climate catastrophe they played no part in. The young generation is rising up to make up for the mistakes of the older. It is a burden they have the vigour to bear, yet I cannot help but be saddened by the recent youth climate march and school strike. It is great that they are mobilizing at such a young age, but why should they have to? They are young, life should be theirs to enjoy, property and prosperity should be their promise – not a life time of struggling against corpses which cling on to power.

I have seen the effects of fighting the system and constant swimming against the tide on myself. Of course, in my day, we were outcasts and vagabonds, ridiculed or ignored for our refusal to enter the machine. For the pioneers such action is always going to be harder – the youth should win more acclaim for their actions. Now it is common knowledge how fucked-up it is; we just need the political will to change things. But the toll has been paid by my body and soul. My growth has been retarded for most, if not all of my life.

I wish all the power of Spring to the rising generation. I have no resentment toward them – that would a conservative position of futility. But anger toward the great retarder; the one who blots out the sun and casts shade, the one who withholds compost and plant feed, the one who squeezes us into small pots which he always threatens to take away, the one who rarely bothers to pick up a watering can, the one who poisons the soil and drains our bodies of vigour, the one who picks our fruit when it is time to harvest but couldn’t care less when we are unproductive – my anger for this broken system and its retarding agents is strong. Perhaps it is my only real vigour outside of the arts!

Or perhaps a late bloomer can still grow into something beautiful. My new maxim is ‘depleted but never defeated’. Cut down but never pulled out at the roots. Spring is here and here we go again. We are on the cusp of Brexit madness, a buckling system, upheaval and unrest as the people-who-apparently-actually-matter (white middle class) prepare to suffer what we in the ‘lower orders’ have suffered for a long time. The indignities of privation and constant threat to person and property. Here we go again, I hope I can finally fulfil more of my loving nature this year.

Grow tall and strong, but grow thick thorns to protect yourself always! It is worth the energy to invest in defence, in this world which is full of evil. But even that evil cannot withstand us when we finally link our roots together and our good nature overturns the insanity of this wrong turn in humanity’s shared course.

Then we can grow, even if it is in our Autumn years.

 

Advertisements

Imagine you were offered a pill…

Imagine you were offered a pill. Upon swallowing that small, white, round thing, you would cease to feel any of the symptoms of depression or anxiety disorders.

No more insomnia, no more panic, no more suicidal thoughts, no more angst, no more awkwardness, no more feeling isolated, no more feeling like an alien, no more despair.

All of these things would vanish in a matter of minutes, and they would never return. The rate of relapse would be 0%, the pill was that perfect.

Would you take it?

If you have, then you may have just destroyed a large part of yourself in one fell swoop. Seeking a purely medical solution to a spiritual problem, you would have abnegated responsibility to discover yourself, betrayed your soul in a Faustian pact.

Imagine the power it would give the manufacturers of such pills, to dominate others in such a way. Surrendering to them, you would be free from one terrible affliction but, as the saying goes, out of the frying pan and into the fire.

Depression and anxiety can get in the way of ‘life’, but then, what is this life and why should we live it in this way? Insomnia can ruin a work routine, but why would the deepest part of yourself commit such self sabotage? Could it be that the routine itself is the problem, more so than the insomnia?

I see my mental health problems as a quest, an immense riddle, one that cannot be easily sidestepped or shut down. It is useful to sometimes be free from it, distracted or medicated in extreme situations, but only as a break from it, not a total transcendence. As much as I have been on my knees and begged Mephistopheles to take away the anxiety, the vulnerability, the despair, I don’t really mean it.

These dark feelings and deep shadows are there for a reason. If they were not, they would not be there. If you have any degree of sensitivity, you will look upon the world and feel as much of its despair as you do its joy. We are in a troubled time, politically, ecologically, economically, spiritually, you name it. Our systems are failing, and many of us are clinging on to them to the bitter end, for, to use another cliché, better the devil you know.

But there are those of us who, at the very core of our souls, feel absolute revulsion for these broken systems and the price they are exacting on humanity and the world of beasts and plants. This albatross around our necks (there he goes again!) is a necessary one, and is in fact the only real hope of change.

Imagine you were reading a novel, a fantastical one where a hero must overcome herself, confront her deepest demons and strive to discover what is truly inside herself. She may never fully triumph, never fully reach some ‘enlightenment’ or god of healing, but the journey she makes, the heroism of her character,  the artfulness of her life, all of these things are inseparable from her. If the hero of the tale simply popped a pill and lost all motivation or drive to self-discovery, then what a terrible tale that would make. It would be trumpeting complacency as the highest virtue.

Complacency is the curse of civilization, for all complacent civilizations are swift to collapse into decadence. The shadow that stalks us, forcing us to evolve, to get better – this is what drives change.

The pill of all-healing would return us to complacency, and thus to the destruction of our true selves. Such ‘light’ cannot exist in our grey world without doing immense harm to the chaotic, beautiful balance we live in. Already people hide from their emotions by wearing the masks of capitalism and individualism. The price the world is paying for this is immense.

I live in my own shadow, a much taller and more powerful version of myself, and I would not magick that looming power away for anything, or anyone.

There is no pill that can take away all of our problems. But there is a change of perception and paradigm we can all make – to see depression and darkness as a sign that something is wrong out there, and thus drive us, when our energy returns to us, to change it.

 

Euphoric

It is important to remember and celebrate these days. When a weight has been lifted, when a cloud has passed, when the birds are piping at the dawnlight.

The why is hard to explain, if explanation is needed or possible. I just feel like all of my joints are made of a pleasantly squishy jelly and my central nervous system is reclined in a hammock hanging from an Indian pea tree.

Perhaps the many weeks of crushing weight and darkness have made this relative normality feel like euphoria. Perhaps this is the call of Spring, the first buds preparing to awaken – a time I associate with great wellbeing and expansion.

A particularly good session in psychotherapy last week changed phases from some bubble of Winter drear, and another session yesterday helped me to change the way I see Winter and darkness. Not things to be escaped, but lessons to be learned. The more we try to shy away from hard feelings, the more surely they return.

I seek not the positive in them, but rather just to be with them, as part of some balanced whole. After all, the darkness is also part of who I am. And how much more pleasant these days when they follow the hard toil of emotional work.

I have worked really hard these last few weeks! On everything – even sleeping was a labour and a worry. I have worked harder than most ever will. This euphoria is the result of that, the weekend of a strained soul. As a mason who spends years building a new house spends his first night away from the elements by the warmth of a fire, I have gone ways to building a place I can call home inside myself, cultivating safety, self-forgiveness, strength.

Many things – I have worked hard and cleverly. Time to get the peace I deserve!

Believe me when I say there is hope. Even if it does not feel like your good works are being instantly rewarded, by treating yourself well you are putting “money” in life’s wellbeing “bank” (if you will excuse the horribly capitalist metaphor).

I do not think we can fully choose when the results come, but we can open ourselves up to the possibility by living well, being in therapy, finding useful herbs and medicines that work for us, and so forth.

Just know that the good times will come, whatever you have been through. Your self-healing processes are at work if you allow to do their thing, and be patient. Something I struggle with, but am now much learning.

We need Winter for Spring and Darkness for Light. Lessons I am learning, acceptance, being with, silence, patience. As much as I endured the elements, now I must enjoy the fruits.

That is what today is for, and that is what I shall do.

 

What I am (to you)

An old vinyl full of sublime sound, never put on

An oil painting from the renaissance, gathering dust in the cellar

A cerulean, sun-soaked sky behind heavy, drawn curtains

A beautiful wandering cat, seeking love from strangers

The words of power that unmake spells of hate, never uttered

A drawer full of field beans, never planted in the garden

A book of depth and colour, you refuse to read

 

You do not need to say the sun is gold and resplendent

For the sun to be gold and resplendent

And if you say the sun is bleak, squat, grey and ugly

That does not make the sun bleak, squat, grey and ugly

 

This is why your words have no power; they speak untruth.

The magick of words is their ability to say what is

For magick is power, and magick is just truth, thus truth is power

 

A proud otter swimming through a running river, whose strength you cannot comprehend

Enchantment

Without enchantment, we are lost in the world. Without myth, guideless. Without spirit, we are dead inside. Without art, we are silent.

The world-as-it-is: not suitable for our primed imaginations. Stillness is just a reprieve, sleep a chance to dream. The vigour of endless Western minds; ceaseless, like the snout of an anteater. The world is layered with our mark.

Then let us do the best that we can do with our candor and sheer energy. Let us enchant nature and live there, among the wood sprites and the sacred trees. Let us catch that mana, let us fly these concrete prisons.

Profit is a road leading nowhere. But the deep wood and the bramble grove is an infinite, winding adventure…