July 7th 2016
When I embarked on this journey to TRY, I made a promise to myself not to paint it as a ‘Facebook life’. I mean that fantasy life of smiles and sunshine that grace so many people’s social media accounts, while hiding their true daily struggles. As a result, there will be the odd post like this one. If you’re not in the mood for philosophy and emotional struggle, probably best to get on YouTube and search for cute kittens now.
This morning, I woke early to a txt that had come in late last night saying harvesting work was off today, as something else had come up. Not so bad, so far, huh? Nope. Not really. It means I’ll be paying for my food this week, but it also means I have an extra morning off. And it’s a nice day outside as a bonus! Life’s good. However, those weren’t the first thoughts rattling around in the pre-dawn quiet.
Straight away my brain took off planning all the things I have waiting to be done: need to get more planning, sponsorship searching, or perhaps even building for The Longest Walk; must knock off a few of those things on my “to do” list… After a couple of minutes of this churning, I was struck with a sudden tiredness. Not the kind that comes from an abnormally early wake up, but the kind of tiredness that seems to come from the marrow of your bones. It quivered like a just-blown bubble just taking form and then morphed into a deep melancholy to challenge that of any moody teenager. I was reminded of Jack Johnson’s “Bubble Toes” (“He got none, but he thinks he got so many problems. He’s got too much time to waste”).
And it’s true. I have no problems at the moment. None except the one problem that I have been battling since I can remember. People often think I am confident. Several people told me how “brave” it as to leap into uncertainty like I did coming from Australia. That’s one way to look at it, I guess. The truth from my side though is a long history of fake it ‘til you make it born largely from a pretty close call with depression through my teens and on into my early twenties.
I bring this up not as a cry for attention or help, but because it is true. And because the fact that I’ve been there is what helps me recognise it as the start of a dangerous spiral. That lack of confidence causes me to second-guess and doubt. Dr Tom Mullholland (The Attitude Doctor– worth a look at his two books about Healthy Thinking) would call this The Doom Merchant and he often appears along with my Telepathist, Distorter and Extremist. If you want to read more about that, best to check out his books. Essentially though, it’s about casting a negative spin on things which are as yet neutral. A comparable potential for success when compared with the chance of failure. Almost inevitably, it leads to inaction. Safer to keep doing what I’m doing now than to try something different. Crazy logic if what you’re doing isn’t exactly what you want from life.
It would be as easy as it is pointless to speculate or lay blame about where this comes from. Ultimately these things come down to choices. Our OWN choices. Not circumstances and not anyone else’s choices. As a quick side note, I’m not trying to marginalise depression and I am no doctor or psychiatric professional. There are people out there to help if you think you may be having your own encounter with mental health issues. However, choices about one’s internal dialogue are always going to be a piece in the puzzle. I didn’t reach out for any help at all during my own struggle. In fact, until writing this, I’ve only mentioned it to a handful of people in retrospect. That was the wrong way to do it and I nearly didn’t win. Here’s a good place to start if you’re in that boat (Mental Health Foundation of NZ)
Anyway, back to brooding… So self-doubt crept into bed with me and had me second-guessing everything I am trying to do. It whispered in my ear indisputable truths such as “You live in a tiny caravan, buddy. What the fuck sort of life is that?!”… “What exactly IS it that you are trying to do here anyway?”… “What’s this Longest Walk malarkey about? You can’t do that! Anyway, it’s just you running away from the holding pattern you’re in”… “How is this leading to freedom exactly?”…
It’s the kind of pillow talk that I could do without, to be honest. But one invaluable thing I gained from depression is the ability to deal with ‘negative’ emotions. While they were once potentially deadly enemies, they are now indispensable advisors. On this occasion, they served to make me take stock.
Yes. I live in a caravan. Not exactly an enviable arrangement and there are times when it is inconvenient (although not as often as you might imagine). What am I trying to achieve by this? It’s a short-term way to allow me more time to myself rather than being a slave to rent and bills. Milton’s famous line “Better to reign in Hell, than to serve in Heaven” (Paradise Lost) springs to mind. Not that I reign over anything, to be fair. It IS short-term but I’m trying to buck the system and make my way into a less consumer-based lifestyle: A life less like slavery to spending and debt.
The positivity vampire had found a blood-rich artery with its enquiry into the Longest Walk though. Maybe he has a point… Granted, it was one of my goals to start with and a cause I am passionate about, but there is some truth to his claim. It doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to save money for a start toward a real tiny home and then blow it doing a charity walk for an extended period. Especially since it will mean starting over in the search for a place to save again after. Then there’s considerations such as storage… I’d need to store the caravan or sell it and start over with that…
All this made me take pause and consider relative pros and cons. Go back to the rent trap, working my life away so others can create wealth and prosper? Earn a steady wage treading water rather than trying to create change? Go about life with the status quo and allow sedation by distraction as is the ‘normal’ path? There’s no reason I couldn’t also manage to save a little money over time and take advantage of economic leverage like so many others do… This reclusive life frees up a lot of energy to funnel into other things I want to pursue, but if it is all just energy going to waste… There’s a reason the system works: it’s much easier to submit than to try a different way.
The point of this post was just to keep myself honest. Life’s not easy for anyone. We all have our own battles. It’s important to acknowledge that a lot of those battles are internal. There may well be ‘nothing wrong’ but that doesn’t mean to say that these pains are not real. In fact, they may be the biggest hurdles and the toughest obstacles we face. But like any obstacle, there is always a way to approach them that confirms the fact that they are not insurmountable barriers. In fact, the bumps in the road often remind us to pay closer attention to how we are driving.