The final words from the Radiohead song ‘Creep’ resonate with me…
“I don’t belong here…”
I’ve often found myself explaining how my mind works or trying to explain how or why I did something with a phrase like “you have to excuse me, I’m not normal” – and it’s true, I’m just not normal.
While the world is trying to tell me that you should choose a shade of either black or white, I’m finding out that there are colours that work really well together in pallets we haven’t dreamed about.
While the world is being serious and telling me that you should choose your words wisely, I’m in the corner thinking that a thesaurus would have been a dinosaur that could help choose those words.
When people tell me I have to choose a side, often I don’t feel like I have that luxury… It doesn’t mean that I don’t care or understand either side of the debate, I just think that the ‘messy middle’ is where the hurt lies and the truth sits.
Maybe I’m just not educated enough to understand the complexities?
Maybe it’s because I’m just not that smart?
Maybe it’s the way I was bought up… My mum is Australian so that could explain a lot. What ever the reason the end result is that “I’m just not normal.”
A while back I had this idea to post a ‘dad joke’ every week day morning on social media, it was for a couple of reasons. One, I love dad jokes, my theory is anyone can get a laugh, but eye rolls and awkward sighs are where the real magic lies (remember ‘not normal‘). Secondly it was something that caused a reaction other than a negative one.
So I posted a funny comment or thought every Monday to Friday for one week… Just one week. I thought, that no one is really picking up on my idea, so I stopped. I figured it was great for a week, however maybe it was just something I did for just for me for that week?
I have never received so many messages and emails asking if I could start again, some people even sent me more material. The clincher for me was when someone said “my partner is in hospital and your jokes each morning help get him starting the day in a positive way…” they did however say “he thinks you’re crazy”…i read that as “not normal”.
It’s actually a lonely place not being normal.
You look normal, you ‘mostly’ act normal, but then you open your mouth and start talking and you start to realise that your thoughts, dreams, ideas and plans don’t fit in with what everyone else thinks.
While every one else is choosing team and taking sides, I feel like I’m the odd one in the middle thinking that either side have it both so absolutely right and at the same time so majorly wrong it… actually hurts my head.
Each side yelling at each other, telling the other not to yell.
Each side accusing the other of letting down the other, morally, financially and intellectually, and it comes out in frustrated and vague rants.
I stand in the middle and think.
Why don’t we just try and work together?
Why don’t we try something new that no one has tried before? Let’s stop drawing lines in the sand and declaring your standing ground. Let’s start to listen.
Criticise by creating?
Imagine if we could create some sort of radical middle that took the best of the left and the best of the right and created something that worked for each side. Imagine if we could be free from both the left and the right?
Imagine if we could start working with each other than against each other?
Imagine if we created things that never could have been imagined unless we dropped our arrogance and pride and crossed the room, the street, the city?
But what do I know? I’m not normal?
I’m the outsider here… but that’s where i choose to be?
“You can’t change the world if you’re just like it”
Have you ever gone for a long drive somewhere down the coast, or through a mountain range and you’ve turned the corner and you have found yourself driving through sea mist or low cloud?
It’s very disorientating, isn’t it?
One minute you have a clear view of where you are and where you are going, and the next minute you can only see a few meters in front of you.
A year ago I could tell you that depression, anxiety, stress and mental illness was something that was an important subject that people need to talk about.
What I didn’t realise a year ago is how hard it is to talk about such a subject.
Why do I think it’s harder than people realise? Because in many cases people don’t know the depth of the despair they are in. From my experience, life was carrying on a familiar journey. There were the expected bumps on the road and there was some great scenery.
What I didn’t expect was fog. Thinking about it now, maybe I did expect it but maybe I didn’t realise how disorientating it would be. At some point I had turned a corner and I was in the middle of a deep mist. I hadn’t changed direction. I hadn’t changed momentum. Life had just turned a bend.
I have heard it said “Talk to someone when life gets dark or foggy or grey.” In fact the sentiment is all over the internet. The problem with this thinking is you don’t know how deep you’re in until you’re right in the middle of it. The signs that you would usually use to orientate yourself are no longer legible. The fog is too thick.
So how do you tell when life is really getting to a low point? We have all felt tired. We have all felt despair and we have all felt frustrated with life. The difference is most times life is hiding behind the couch and shouts “surprise!” Then life resumes to normal viewing as if some cruel joke, or maybe even a cruel test that we had to go through to discover how weak we really are underneath all the masks and bravado.
That’s the problem with clouds, sometimes they’re just blots on a blue sky and while they may cover the sun you can see it’s only for a short time. Other times the clouds are dark and grey and you may be caught in a heavy shower. It may last days or it may last weeks. That’s a lot of time with no sun, isn’t it?
Someone once said to me “She died suddenly.” I thought this was an unusual saying, after all doesn’t everyone die suddenly? One minute you’re living, and the next minute you’re dead.
Living, living, living, living, living, dead. From experience for A1 type personalities like me, that’s how depression works. Fine, fine, fine, fine, lost.
The crazy thing is that you can’t even really call it ‘depression’ as everyone will feel it differently depending on their personality, but I wonder if there are just not enough words in the English language to explain this. I could do fifty things at once. I could do it all. I was funny and creative. I was adaptable and then all of a sudden… I wasn’t. Well sometimes I could be, but it just felt hard. Was I getting ill? Did my brain’s super computer have too many tabs open? Not having felt this way before for extended periods, how would I know?
Talking is important… absolutely. However I’m not sure it’s as important as having friends connect up and ask questions. “Hey, you’re looking tired. Are you okay?”
“You don’t seem your normal self. Is everything alright?”
“I haven’t heard from you for a while, what’s up?”
In a world of social media and personal branding it’s easy to hide behind “Ok” and “I’ll show you my highlight reel” -but the reality is fighting depression, anxiety and other mental illness starts with community.
It starts with whanau (family).
It starts with close friends.
It starts with people being observant enough to ask the question if something doesn’t look or feel right.
It starts with us being honest enough to admit we’re in need of support if we are starting to struggle.
What we need to remember, is often we don’t know we are lost until we look around.
Albert Einstein, in 1916, discovered a theory that talked about the ripples in the very fabric of time and space. We have the access to make ripples in time and space too, however many of us will never see the impact that we make because we are insular and too afraid to step outside of our boxes.
Is the reason more people aren’t changing the world because they think it’s too hard?
Or maybe it’s just not happening fast enough for us?
We live in a world of ‘instant.’ We live in a world of ‘just add water’.
Either way you want to look at it you have been able to get what you wanted in a fraction of the time you could have. Would you have made soup or coffee from scratch instead of ‘just adding water’?
There’s a Joke by Steven Wright that goes “I put instant coffee in the microwave and I went back in time.”
We have things at our finger tips in an instant, and it starts to flow in to all areas of our lives
May of us want to change the world and want to make a huge positive impact on the communities and nations around us. However how many of us actually do it?
Why is that?
I believe it’s because we see a HUGE problem in front of us, and think that it’s just too big. We don’t have the huge platforms to talk from to the masses like big ‘A list’ celebrities who are able to speak out on things that they think are important. People hang on their every word. However I believe that what we say and do has a far greater ripple affect than we even hope, dream or imagine.
Did you think that Rosa Park was thinking about the breakdown of segregation that would result as people rallied around her not getting up on the bus in 1955?
In her own words:
People always say that I didn’t give up my seat because I was tired, but that isn’t true. I was not tired physically, or no more tired than I usually was at the end of a working day. I was not old, although some people have an image of me as being old then. I was forty-two. No, the only tired I was, was tired of giving in.
Do you think John Otis was only considering the revolution that was about to be stirred as Americans sought independence as he stood up and spoke against ‘taxation without representation’, or do you think that the former Advocate General for the Royal Colony was thinking, “Oh well, there goes my career?”
The colonists are by the law of nature free born, as indeed all men are, white or black.
James Otis, Rights of the British Colonies, 1764
In both situations they were acting on their convictions. Rosa Park and James Otis were just plainly standing up for something they believed in. They had to step up and be brave in THEIR context. It may have been a small step but it caused a huge ripple! I’m sure they had no idea the intense movements they were adding to, or even sparking.
No matter how small, you can make a difference. Be brave, step outside your comfort zone and stand strong in what you believe. Take that step.
Love each other, listen to each other, give to each other, celebrate each other.
Be honest, be kind. The more you look into it the more you discover it’s less about me and more about how I respond to the people and the needs around me. As pastor Andy Stanley would say “What does love require of you right now??”
None of these things are revolutionary, are they? They are just small things that could potentially make a huge impact in someones life. Everything is becoming so insular, and self promoting and ‘me’ focused that the way we make the most ripples is to push against this flow. Simple but not easy.
“Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.” Romans 12:2
You can’t change the world if you’re just like it.
Mum’s have one of the hardest jobs in the world, no holidays and often very little rest Mother’s are often cooking, looking after sick kids, school lunches, checking homework is done… The list goes on – and that is without mentioning the rest of life they need to fit in and around the family. Mum’s are indeed amazing.