This change of approach is everywhere in my life at the moment. I have an analogy. Picture a tribe of people, living together. Now bomb the region. Nuclear! Wasteland, devastation, loss. The tribe are alive but wounded. Some are sick, some are weak, some are young. They band together to get out of the wasteland. The journey is very, very long. They don’t know how long it will take. Somewhere it must end, somewhere there must be clean water and trees. It’s an act of faith to go on, to keep believing that all the world is not like this. As they journey, some members cannot go on. They become exhausted, or too wounded, or they die. The tribe buries them, or leaves them in caves or burrows. They promise that when they find a good place, they will return. They keep on. Sometimes one member leads, sometimes another. Sometimes they fight. They learn a lot about living together and looking after each other. They leave a trail behind them, footsteps in blood, bodies under hummocks of sand and ash.
The tribe is smaller now, leaner, wiser, older. They find the edge of the wastes, there is grass again, water, food. They can make a home. They can make a life. They can sleep indoors.
The whole world of mental health now says to me – set up home. Focus on the present moment. Be happy. Be well.
My wastes are full of wailing, angry ghosts. I’m haunted by who I used to be. I owe debts. I’ve made promises.
So I look sick instead of successful, as I go back to the burrows and rouse them, the lonely, wounded, angry ones, and promise them the world now has trees in it. As I go and wake my dead, gather the bones and bring life back into them. It looks like depression. It looks like crashing, like getting sick. I don’t look like a successful, recovered patient.
But there’s life again! There’s many voices. There’s feeling in my skin. Where my routines and plans had become empty, there’s passion. Where I’ve closed my ears to the cries and done what needed to be done, now is a time to open my ears, to sit and listen, to make a fire, to share bread, to tell the stories, to bring back together what has been divided. Dark and light, old and young, bold and timid, hope and despair, conventional and misfit, to be a tribe again, to each have a voice. We all need to have a voice to dream of a new future for us all.
And here comes the next part – the dreaming. It cannot be something that suits one, or a few. Parenthood must not be something only one or two desire. A home is not a home unless we all belong there, strange as we are. If the dark wild ones need trees to climb there must be trees. We need all of us to dream, to yearn, to share in a future together.
Without all the voices we have no balance. We are divided, unstable, without constraint. The human spirit is made to be pulled in different directions, this is our pain and our beauty, we find balance between conflicting needs. I am divided, we must work together for there to be balance, wholeness, real hope. There has been rising hope and despair, in conflict, this year. To undo the conflict and find harmony, we must undo the framework.