I used to say that people make a home, and a house isn’t one if the ghosts that dwell within are unhappy. There’s power in land, though. Power in the memory of footsteps walked before upon the ground that shifts with time and perspective, as though every surface we move across is sand.
As Thomas Harris once wrote ‘our scars have the power to remind us that the past was real’. Sometimes the past isn’t an ideal place, and we heap the recollections we hold with layers of lace and cobwebs to blot out the darkness. In doing so we create pockets where yet more shadows may dwell, and we can only begin to dispel them, even exorcise them, by choosing to tear down the curtains.
Sometimes, the past is downright terrifying.
Fear given to us by whichever gods or universal force you believe in gifted as a tool, only to turn on us in our state of unparalleled awareness and rip out our throats. Yet only by confronting the things we have done, the places we’ve once been and the people we once were can we begin to gain perspective and take a step forwards.
Home is the place where you can stand with feet planted in a place where you faced the impossible and survived. You can run across oceans, get in your car and blaze into the night until the tank is empty but your heart will remain closed, and there will forever remain a sting of longing.
Home is closure and understanding. There are never answers to every question we bottle up inside; home is making peace with that fact as well. Home is choosing to stand your ground in the face of adversity and drawing hope from the darkest hour of night. Home is here.
‘Don’t aim for success if you want it; just do what you love and believe in, and it will come naturally’- David Frost
Once I let grief and hatred blind me, and stumbled through life as though I were wearing one way mirrored glasses. The world could look inwards and see that I was on a collision course with all kinds of chaos but I had no way to see the violence or havoc I wrought; nor the hurt and blood on my hands.
Everybody hurts and grieves; everybody will fuck up and hurt someone else at some point. It’s unavoidable. Life hurts. Love hurts. The end of love hurts. The end of everything seems insurmountable yet we soldier on with those life has taken: those who walk behind, as shadows that linger in the sudden recognition of a piece of music or the sight of someone who, from a distance, could be them.
Life is short and death is even shorter: our strings could find themselves cut at any moment by capricious fate and her strange and twisted sense of humor. Most of us sleepwalk through life and hope, stumbling over obstacles the way a horse trips at the high pole, or a base jumper opens the parachute a split second too late.
Often with disastrous results.
We waste so many years attempting to make some sense of the world we’ve built, and convince others that we have some kind of wisdom or value to offer when what we ought to be doing is following a rainbow. Everyone has something they are wild for: music, travel, exploration. As long as we continue to watch the days slip by into decades and favor what is respectable and expected over the longings of our own heart, we will suffer in perpetuity.
The truth that I’ve seen is that the paths we walk are as strange and varied as people themselves; life enjoys curveballs and surprises, and perhaps that’s the only true constant among us. No two artists will draw a landscape the same way; no two cellists will paint the air with music with identical flair.
Finding freedom and finding ourselves is an ongoing journey, and contrary to what the bitter and jaded will tell you, people do change. We shift as constant as the tides, sometimes stepping back into comfort and familiarity and at other times lurching forth into the unknown in search of adventure and hope.
The nature of humanity as I’ve seen it is curiosity, and I have come to the belief that our current state of mental distress and dissatisfaction is a direct result of the society we have built. In a culture where others ask nothing less than perfection and social media bombards us with careful, curated snapshots of others who seem to have it together it’s natural to fall into gloom.
What we never see is the full life behind the scenes, beyond the timelines and snapchat streams and even blogposts like this. I’d argue I’m something of a confessional writer but for the sake of example, I could be making it all up and nobody would be any the wiser. Celebrities idolized as the new gods have bad days like the rest of us.
They suffer and bleed, they experience heartbreak and grief and have endured their own share of breakdowns which may be why the great and the good seem to die so young. I can’t remain honest and claim to have sympathy, because their perpetuation of a certain image as perfection, unattainable for most, is quite literally the heart of everything wrong.
One of the trends so many influencers, famous names and scientists give voice to is mindfulness despite studies that evidence it is capable of causing great damage. Living in the moment is a wonderful feeling, but we should not be spending fifteen minutes pondering the nature of a simple cup of tea or sitting in pure silence, trying to blot out the noise.
Yes, the noise hurts our ears and our heart in equal measure. The world is an overwhelming place at the best of times but if we are to learn to live in it and be capable of growing into the best version of ourselves we can be, we must learn to live with it. To be a part of the savagery and the beauty in equal measure. We must reconcile who we were once with who we are and learn from the mistakes made. Facing down demons is hard and change doesn’t come easy to any individual or society, but nothing worth anything ever is.
Mindfulness encourages us to blot out experience and the shadow self, as Jung referred to it, in favor of focusing on the now. If we are to shut the doors on everything that came before, forgetting follows. Where forgetting begins the door to ruination begins. This act of distraction therapy as a coping mechanism to deal with difficult feelings is a great scam: those feelings will return, and the longer you sit on them the worse the eventual explosion. As humans we are subject to a vast array of emotions, and we should feel all of them and learn how to respond in an appropriate way.
Mindfulness is a bandaid on a stab wound: sooner or later the blood will flow and so we must learn to stitch ourselves up sooner rather than later.
You can’t walk through a little fire without getting burned, and though some peoples’ scars may not be visible ones we are each riddled with them, a roadmap of our story. Life cuts through us the way a river reshapes the land, a violent and inevitable force with the ability to reshape even rock itself.
“Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls; the most massive characters are seared with scars.” — Khalil Gibran
The road to healing is one built on a bed of coals; it’s okay to be mad about it. When I re-broke my pelvis I found myself rocked to the core by how many people, both (now former) friends and strangers who would say ‘well being upset won’t do any good, you need to get over it.’ The idea that we must present a facade of good cheer and present a stiff upper lip is what landed us in this mess, and why mental illness is quite probably the greatest crisis our generation has to face.
It’s alright to feel: it’s alright to have a bad day, where you punch the wall until your knuckles bleed or scream into a pillow and demand the universe tell you why things are the way they are. What matters most is that when the storm has passed, you get up and try again. Healing is a unique process and for some takes longer, but as long as you refuse to give in or give up you’re winning.
Anger is natural; so is feeling bitter, particularly in the wake of a tragedy or traumatic event. The most important choice you will make is deciding how to channel it into something productive and beautiful, to build a towering fire in the darkness that those who doubted you cannot escape the glare of.
Meditation has its’ place, but don’t end up as a human being.
Be a human doing, and overcome the pain. Build a bridge that takes you to a better place.