“Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them, humanity cannot survive.” ~ The Art of Happiness, Dalai Lama XIV
Yesterday, I had the immense pleasure of watching my good friend Kelly in a fringe theatre piece called Feel More at The Space Performing Arts Centre on the Isle of Dogs in London. The performance is made up of seven stories that each demonstrate how everyone has a narrative, a history, a patchwork quilt of experiences that we know nothing about and yet are the fundamental reasons for the people we are today. It highlights the every day worries and concerns we have, the journey of discovery we are all on, even when we don’t realise we are on one, and most of all it demonstrates the ‘ripple effect’ that I have been so captivated with recently.
The piece was intensely thought-provoking and, at times, a little hard to hear. The seven stories cover a number of topics, including bereavement, suicide, depression, and broken expectations, and I found myself relating from a different perspective than I am used to. I’ve become accustomed to reviewing my own experiences, sometimes silently, sometimes out loud, and working through the answers myself. Listening to frank detailed accounts from other people, however, was almost a slap in the face.
One of the stories that caught my attention was a guy talking about the day he witnessed someone jumping in front of a train. He recounts noticing the man, realising something wasn’t right, and his relentless guilt that he didn’t intervene. It showed the ripple effect to me in ways I hadn’t considered before. Yes, this particular piece is a fictional account, but the sad fact remains that around 4.5% of suicides in the UK happen on train tracks, and this could easily be the very real resulting trauma for an innocent bystander.
It wasn’t that I’d never considered the impact that this would have on people like the train drivers or the families left behind. I’ve done the London commute, I’ve been stuck in the tunnel when they make the jarring announcement about “a body under a train”, so I have followed that thread of thought many’s a time, but I had honestly never thought about how the other people on the platform might carry that experience forward. The weight of witnessing the culmination of someone’s sorrow, knowing the despairing hollow that drove them to commit such an act. The shock, the pain, the guilt and helplessness of having witnessed such a thing.
And similarly, I thought about my own experiences. I know that darkness. I’ve been in that place where it feels as though death is the only way out. I have come within moments of acting on those thoughts and yet something or someone has always pulled me away. What have those people been left with? How have their lives played out? Do they think of me even though I may have no idea who they are? I spend a lot of my time now trying to put positive energy out into the world, create ripples of happiness that benefit both myself and others, so to sit and consider my own pain from an stranger’s perspective, it was a bitter pill to swallow.
And yet here I am, writing something meaningful, for the first time in what feels like an age. As I sat in the beautiful, quirky little building that reminded me of the old town church in a TV show about the Salem Witches, shying away from the reality of my own chequered past, I felt flooded with the desire to write. It wasn’t a fully formed idea, I certainly had no clue precisely what I wanted to write, but it was the initial spark of creativity that has been missing for a while.
I then had chance to spend a couple of hours with Kelly before heading home. We have one of those wonderful friendships where we typically only see each other once or twice a year, but when we are together it is like no time has passed. She is one of those rare people that I can always be brutally raw and honest with, without any judgement and it was after speaking about how the performance affected me that I realised this is what I wanted to write about.
In my last blog post, I spoke about owning your you-ness and embracing the qualities in yourself that could be perceived as negatives, the things we beat ourselves up over. I also spoke about accountability and at the time decided that by the end of that week I would finish chapter 4 and my Iceland blog. Well, neither of those things happened. As I type, my Iceland blog remains half written in my drafts folder and though the chapter of my book has seen a little work, it remains incomplete. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t disappointed in myself that 2 weeks has passed since I wrote more than a couple of paragraphs on an Instagram post, but in all truth, I simply have not had it in me to get there. Despite being able to encourage other people to embrace all at they are, that fire in me has been dim and I know that continually disparaging myself will only feed the evil wolf.
I am not going to allow that negative mindset to influence me today. I can’t speak for tomorrow, or next week, or next month, but for today I choose happiness.
I haven’t been embracing my me-ness but today I will do my best, be my best, and try my best. I haven’t been overcoming my obstacles, but today I defy anxiety and will achieve all that I can. Today I believe in myself and I believe in you. Whoever you are, wherever you are, whatever appears on your patchwork quilt, you can and you will.
The entire concept of the Feel universe is that if we all just showed a little more compassion and shared a little more love, the world would be a better a place. And that’s something I can really get on board with.
Love & light,