“faith is a knowledge of the meaning of human life in consequence of which man does not destroy himself but lives. Faith is the strength of life. If a man lives he believes in something. If he did not believe that one must live for something, he would not live.”
Leo Tolstoy - A Confession
I just did a search for the tag depression. I was so saddened by the results. So many people are reaching out on tumblr and other social media, looking for people to reach back and take their hand. To you that are reaching out I want to tell you that I read your posts and I care about you. You are valuable and precious. If I could find you all and give each of you an individually tailored hug I would.
As a relatively healthy person the most terrible thing I see is when friends of mine withdraw from the world due to self-doubt and self-blame, ultimately fueled by mental illness. I’ve seen and experienced a cycle of hatred that feeds itself. What begins as mere hesitation becomes blame and then after weeks of withdrawal come the feelings of worthlessness.
You have to decide to break the cycle. And a way you can do this is to realise that that voice of negativity is not you, it is your illness, and your illness can be conquered. I hesitate to say cured because some people battle with depression their whole lives, but every day that you fight it is a victory!
Please don’t let the darkness keep you locked away at home. I know how it feels to reach bedtime and realise you didn’t change out of your bed clothes all day. It’s not a good feeling.
I won’t go into advice mode… I’m just a layman and a concerned friend. I just want you guys to know that I love you and there are a lot of other people like me that love you too.
And just a side note to any one that sees this that is relatively healthy. Try searching some tags like ‘depression’ and ‘mental illness’. It’s a humbling experience that I hope will inspire empathy and compassion.
I hate suburbs!!!!
It’s like there is a plan to isolate people into these cells that are so big that they give the impression that one does not need or want to leave. As your home grows so does the world shrink! With widescreen TVs, playstations, nintendos, desktops, laptops, ipads, and an appliance to quickly cook just about any kind of treat or dessert, why leave? Children no longer play on the street, now they play on the couch. People just don’t leave their houses like they used to. People often complain about living in small urban homes but they squeeze people out of the four walls and onto the street. That’s why urban streets are so much more interesting than suburban ones! And where there are more eyes on the street there is more safety on the street. Need I even bring up the obesity issues? That’s not the point I’m going for anyway, although it is a big issue.
The event that prompted this rant occurred because my family is about to go on a three week camping trip and we can’t bring our dog. So naturally we asked our relatives if they would look after him for us. Most were simply unable to commit to it for valid reasons, some simply refused because of a bias against our dog (he isn’t very amiable towards people he doesn’t see regularly). When my mum started talking about her not going on the trip so she could look after the dog I was incredulous. I quizzed her asking if she had asked our friends from the parish or our neighbours and she said she hadn’t and that it was too big an ask. Granted our dog is a nightmare for strangers, but still, surely when there are people in houses all up and down this street there must be a number of people that would be up to the job. The problem is that we don’t know anyone on our street. We barely even talk to our immediate neighbours. The problem isn’t so much that we’re inclined to be antisocial.There just aren’t any opportunities to talk to our neighbours. People just rush out of their homes and into their cars, speeding off in a roar that drowns out all salutations. No one walks, every time I walk up the street to buy milk in the morning I have an empty foot path the whole way.
Contrast this to my brief stay in New York. In my tiny hotel room I was comfortable but I was also cramped. Not having the means to make my own breakfast I soon had regular places for breaky and coffee. The coffee place actually made terrible coffee but they were such nice dudes that I came back a lot. In the heart of Manhattan the footpath is wide and it needs to be! There is action everywhere, steam rising from cracks in the ground, the poor and hungry are also out there with you, you can hear music wafting out of the subway entrances, there’s noise everywhere. It’s intense but it is gloriously modern and urban. When I got back to Australia I talked to friends that lived in small urban apartments and they live like that, always outside, getting involved, meeting people, seeing the urban world. The places they live in are just too small to do otherwise.
So I think I will conclude this rant here. Here’s hoping that Australia will start building up and stop spreading out. The key to a rich and interesting city is density.
Had a trip to Mornington to see a friend and offset the angst. But it smelled too much of teen spirit on the train home. It was a long journey. On one hand I need people to not go insane. On the other hand they can also be annoying and dangerous. But they are both arms of the same body. There’s nothing more interesting to a person than people. You’d have to be a fool to say otherwise. Those escapists who explore line and colour and texture and minimal and so on… It’s absurd! And why did you jump in front of that iron horse? was it the angst? was it something even more? Not just the absence of meaning but the absence of self and the in-quenchable blackness. A desperate cry that someone could hear you beyond that black mist. For if a tree falls and it’s cries echo into oblivion does the tree exist..
I was jogging to the dojo and thinking about the clothes I was wearing and why the tradition of wearing the gi in the dojo is such a strong one.
I already had some ideas about this such as the symbolism of the colour white. It’s blank and empty and this is how the mind should be when approaching training and when fighting. No thoughts or feelings, just harmony. It also relates to the first belt we don, the white belt, and its a reminder to train every day as if we are still white belts. To look upon the world with the eyes of children, but to learn from the wisdom of our elders.
As Sensei Orlando from martialways.blogspot.com said white is the hardest colour to maintain and so it requires extra diligence on the part of the student, developing habits of good health and hygiene as well as discipline.
I asked my sensei about it tonight after training and his answer struck the best chord with me as his answers almost always do.
First of all they show respect to the teachers that founded the art. This was how they wanted the art to be taught and we should respect that since they spent their whole lives developing the art for our benefit and those who come after us.
The second reason was that it distinguishes us from the kickboxers down the street and the ufc nuts at the local octagon. Over there you get chicks with tight leggings and men with nothing on but tiny shorts so they can show off their muscles. Not only would this be a distraction for other students but it also feeds the ego and vanity.
On the walk home tonight I kept reflecting on what is probably my favorite line in the dojo kun, “we will cultivate a spirit of self-denial”. This means that we not only refine our bodies but our entire beings. The fires of hard training refine the spirit and purge the impurities such as vanity and desire.
The dogi is just one way that this is done.
A man stood at a bus stop. He was holding a phone up to his ear before his body stiffened and his arm slowly lowered. His hand shook and his phone fell to the pavement. The man didn’t blink and didn’t pick up his phone. He just stared straight ahead with his mouth slightly open, as if he didn’t have the presence of mind to close it. Grey clouds drifted by overhead and trees swayed to the rhythm of the wind. Cars sped past the man, leaving him as quickly as they approached. His chin quivered as he drew in air. His face contorted as he took a sharp breath to fight the surge of emotion. He battled for control, regained his composure and then lost it again as he took his next breath. His lips were pulled down at the corners and his cheeks were pulled high. His entire face was under tension. As he stood there shaking he was oblivious to the young girl who was walking past him along the footpath. She was looking at the man with curiosity and was surprised to hear the snap that alerted her that she’d stepped on a snail. The girl was dismayed but she kept on walking, not even glancing at her murderous foot. The man stood there a while longer until he noticed the bus coming and he sat down on the low brick fence behind him. He sat there with his head in his hands and the bus passed him by.
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