Semi colons, situations and surviving Samsara
When I was 18 years old I was suffering from a rather horrible bout of situational depression – although I didn’t actually realise it at the time (because I didn’t actually know what ‘depression’ was or how it was caused or even why) so I hardly talked to anyone about it because it just seemed so wierd, so unexplainable and so confusing…
This situational depression however brought on an existential crisis. It was – in hindsight a blessing disguised as a curse – as I tend now to view all of life’s lessons that turn up at my door – there is meaning and growth to be found in every situation if you allow yourself to look for it.
Anyway – for anyone who has never experienced one of these and if one does arrive for you in the future – my advice to you is this –
- Make your own meaning
- Find your own purpose
- And I guarantee – in time – the veil of fog will lift and the world before you will be brighter and more beautiful then you can ever imagine possible – Once you get to the other side that is! You will see it as my dad calls it – a “break through” even though at the time it may feel like a “break down”.
Anyway I digress… Yes, so – I was down in the dumps and my life lacked meaning…
What’s the point?
Why do I exist?
Why can’t I just fade away into the darkness and sleep forever more?
Everything seemed so gray, so tasteless and so horribly HORRIBLY dull!
Thankfully however – synchronicity turned up and brought me something truly beautiful at EXACTLY the time it was needed.
I went to Art College and I met an Artist Teacher (who I’m glad to say is now – some 16 years later one of my truest and closest friends and who is referred to as ‘The Cabbage Shirted Teacher in much of my writings).
This teacher inspired me.
This teacher had also struggled and grappled with feelings similar to my own.
This teacher sat me down one day when I had confessed my feelings of self loathing and told me that when he was about my age he had felt the same way and he asked me if I thought that he should have allowed his life to slip away from him.
“NO!!!” I cried.
“Definitely not!!!” I exclaimed.
“You are too important to me, to the world, to your students!!!!! YOU definitely needed to live!!!!”
“Well now” he said in a calm and quiet tone. “Wouldn’t you like to be able to sit in this chair one day?” He then asked me tenderly.
“Wouldn’t you like to be able to give this gift that I get to have right now – to yourself and to someone else one day?”
“What do you mean?” I asked with tear stained cheeks feeling utterly bewildered and baffled.
“when you get to my age – you will feel completely different. I guarantee it, though I know it doesn’t feel that way right now.”
“You will find your purpose and you will find your peace.”
“Life will still have ups and downs – I’m not saying it won’t – but one day if you work at it your good days will far out number the bad, life will have meaning and it will make sense and then you’ll be able to give this gift to one of your own students for you will know exactly what they are going through because you will have been there in the past yourself – and trust me – it’s a fabulous gift to be able to give”
That gift is the gift of hope.
And hope does not live in the land of despair.
That conversation was the seed to wellness. It gave me courage, determination and a will to survive and hopefully, quietly and secretly I allowed myself to dare to dream that one day I would thrive. That conversation sparked a fire deep within my joyless soul. That gift helped me see that someone else had felt like I felt and that they had definitely gotten through it and I knew this because that person was someone who I loved and admired and respected deeply.
That person was the person I knew that I wanted to be someday.
I remember everything viscerally about that moment in time. the dark room we were sat in, the smell of the art materials – the burning wood, the sawdust, the paint fumes, that distinct smell that graphite emits… I remember the feel of the mottled blue plastic chairs we were sat upon, the sounds of power tools, the lulling of the radio in the background, shouting voices all around…
The look of his big black notebook stuffed full of bits of paper, my brown sketchbook, my inner life hidden within its pages…
WELL – Just before I left for India – I got to have that exact same conversation with one of my own students. He was of a similar age to what I was when I had my own crisis of meaning and as he sat in front of me and told me how he wanted to end it all, how he’d had enough of life, as he sat shaking, eyes filled with anger and rage and confusion I realised that that great moment was now upon me and this ripple of serenity washed over my body.
I took a deep breath as I saw myself for a brief moment sitting across from myself in that room once again, sat, so unsure of myself on that blue mottled chair.
It was then that I told him about my own conversation with that inspiring teacher all those years ago and then I asked him if he thought I should have allowed my own life to slip away when I was his age
“NO!!” he cried.
“Don’t be silly!” he exclaimed.
“You’re too special, we need you! The world needs you, you’re so positive, so happy, you make us laugh and smile!!!”
“Well” I said empathically,
“One day, how wonderful do you think it’s going to feel when you get the chance to sit in this chair?”
He looked at me confused, I saw disbelief and disillusionment in his eyes and then I swore to him I had done the exact same thing when I was 18. After this we went quiet, turned pensive just as I had done all those years ago with my own tear stained cheeks.
And then I lifted my hair and explained the tattoo on the back of my neck.
A semi colon is used sometimes instead of a full stop. When an author COULD choose to end a sentence but instead decides to simply have a brief pause and then continue. YOU are the author and that sentence is your life ;
One of my friends pointed out that this painting (acrylics and inks) looks like a minion! hahaha