Coping. We all do it. We all try to carry on.
I know I did. Here I was, back from an international career, building a new business and connecting people to the healing power of nature. In love and living the dream. And then there it came, that 'feeling down' feeling. It's nondescript but there is a sense of dragging down, a hand gripping my ankle in deep water. A black dog in the distance menacing a dark street.
I think we often know how we get here, but can’t quite believe that we do. I cast my eye back and look for patterns and circuits to break. I had grown up with a mother who kept pushing me under the water in order to try and save herself. There wasn’t enough room in our home for her troubles and my own. So, I too pushed things under the waters. Angst waiting below the waves. A slow, wafting Sargasso Sea of pain. I felt I had to be the strong one.
I suspect for many, that one of the things we fear is looking flawed. And so, like many, I kept my anxieties and worries well hid. But with time, overwhelm and exhaustion can become constant companions. There is a feeling - not so much of being broken, but brittle. Like porcelain. Vague fears start floating to the surface, an oily slick on a surging tide.
When someone is drowning, we hope they raise their hand for help, and we hope that hand is seen. I had not realised how hard this was to do. Raising a hand after so much silence can be like surfacing. The behemoth rising from the deep. It can be hard. We are scared to be seen as something weaker than we want to be. We can be scared of the words it might make. But the truth is we don't have to be perfect.
Like the imperfect pot she throws, we too are made from earth. We are the tree that walks, the flower that blooms, the bowl half empty or half full.
In Japan, the concept of “Wabi-sabi” is the act of embracing the flawed or the imperfect. It acknowledges three simple realities: nothing lasts, nothing is finished, and nothing is perfect. There is beauty in the flaw. The potter at her wheel, shaping earth, can be a master of her craft but does not strive to create perfection. It is imperfection that lets humanity in. Like the imperfect pot she throws, we too are made from earth. We are the tree that walks, the flower that blooms, the porcelain bowl half empty or half full.
Many years ago, I was interviewed on a Melbourne radio station about how it can feel to be the victim of a crime as a child. I remember saying that once I was able to admit to myself what had happened; that I was able to accept it as part of my story, then I was able to start healing that part of me. It was as if I had taken those memories and the flaws they created and placed them where I could observe them from a distance, the potter stepping back from the wheel.
Many of us are helping others with their pain and their weaknesses, and in doing this we find ourselves increasingly fearful of showing our own. We believe we have to be the strong one. I think we all know how that feels. But then we reach those points where enough is enough. A hand raises up. The whale breaches. We can ask for help and the world will keep turning. We can honour the imperfections and vow to stop pushing our own head under the waters. We can step back from the wheel, look at ourselves and you know what? It is OK. It will be OK.
And so it is that the tides wash in and they retreat, and healing is a place we can return to. There is a rhythm in the universe of letting in, holding and letting out. Whether we are raising our hand for the first time, or returning again to inspect the flaw, we don’t have to be alone. People can help, medicine can help, nature can help. Love can help. Let the beauty in this world be your ally. Let the landscape and the people, plants and creatures within it be your medicine. Find the beauty in nothing lasting, nothing finished and nothing perfect.
Here are some things that have really helped me beat the blues. I think of them as green therapy. Maybe they'll help you too.
- Try taking a walk in nature. If you are feeling vulnerable ask a friend to come with you. Take time out in a park, along a beach and let yourself feel part of the landscape. Ask it for help and by observing its beauty closely, you may find answers. Enjoy the feeling of being connected to the natural world.
- If you can’t get out into nature, then take a few minutes to find a quiet place, get comfortable, close your eyes and imagine you are in a beautiful place in nature. Imagine the smells, the sounds, the plants and creatures around you. Acknowledge their presence, ask them for their help to support you through this time.
- Write your fears and worries down. This gives you the power to stand back from them and observe what is going on for you right now.
- Plant essences. These are subtle yet powerful forms of healing and a way of working with the plants that can become your allies When you are unable to get to nature, they help nature come to you. I think of them as landscape medicine in every drop. Find out more about Archeus plant essences here.
If you need someone to talk to or advice on where to go for help, you could try: