In Praise of Melancholy

As a species and a society, we have grown to over romanticize and popularize happiness and have exiled all feelings of the contrary to the unpopular and unwanted crevices of human emotion.

We strive only to increase those things that make us happy or that bring happiness to us, and at the slightest surfacing of alternate emotions we do everything we possibly can to “cheer” ourselves up and those around us. We forcibly excise sadness and inflate happiness.

We forget, or at least we do not realize, that what makes us complete individuals is our ability to access the full spectrum of human experience as well as the whole psycho-emotional range – low and high – enabling us to create rich, multi-dimensional, and meaningful lives. Continue reading “In Praise of Melancholy”

An Open Letter to Myself

Dear Leo,

Its me, you.

You and I have been on quite a journey together. We have been through it all; side-by-side. We have cried on our knees at 3am, on the shower floor, we have laughed on mountain tops, and smiled at sunrises. You and I, together, always.

You have been on quite the journey this past year.

I have seen you enter this year at what some might say was the highest you have ever been. I have watched you fall, plummet even, to the very depths of despair.

I have seen you have everything your heart ever wanted.
I have seen you lose it all, slowly, suddenly, cruelly, repeatedly.

I have seen you ecstatically plan for the future.
I have seen you feel each passing moment to be one moment too long lived.

Through it all, side-by-side, we have learned some important lessons.

One of the most important lessons learned:

I should have been the one to love you, to encourage you, to hold you up, to hug you, and to appreciate you.

Instead, I left you to watch those you loved, leave; and thus allowed you to feel unworthy of love, of care, of appreciation, even my own.

I allowed you to listen to the judgements of others.
I made you feel like you needed to defend yourself.
The judgements of others have nothing to do with you, they fear in you what they cannot bare within themselves; it is not your burden to carry, I am sorry I put it on your shoulders.

I am sorry, so sorry.
You are enough.

I know you are going through hard times right now. That life hasn’t given you what you hoped and hasn’t turned out the way you thought it would. I know you are disappointed and sometimes feel like a failure or that it is all your fault.

Together, we have learned that life is short, happy moments are rare, nothing lasts forever, and not everyone’s love is unconditional. These difficult insights are not as sad as they seem; they have given you gifts of wisdom that will prove to make you a far better man for it.

Often, the happiest moments of our lives are viewed in hindsight. Therefore, when life gives you a perfect moment, a beautiful sunny day, a deep and wonderful conversation, you need to drop everything and seize it. A good life is made up of a collection of these moments.

As Morgan Matson, an American novelist, said: “A thousand moments that I had just taken for granted — mostly because I had assumed there would be a thousand more.”

One of the key problems of life: we reject difficult but important knowledge because it comes wrapped the wrong way. The hardships we oft may face are, in hindsight, the greatest blessings/lessons we could ever wish upon ourselves.

Our hardships force us into new versions of ourselves that we may have never become without its cruel but necessary nudging.

“The most important thing to remember is this:
to be ready at any moment to give up what you are for what you might become.”
— W. E. B. Du Bois

Every new level of being will require a different you to conquer it.

It is how one responds to life that determines where the next step of living is placed. Most importantly, we should no longer be surprised by what life throws at us: good or bad; when Seneca wrote that “nothing happens to the wise man contrary to his expectation,” this is partly what he meant.

The reason that so many failures are devastating to us is that we never consider that things could happen any other way but the way we wanted them to.

Marcus Aurelius, another stoic, wrote:
“The impediment to action advances action.
What stands in the way becomes the way.”

Time is limited. Failures are inevitable. Action is unavoidable.
If we realize this to the point of practice, we will no longer spend time on that which is not worthy of it, we will fail quickly and intelligently, and understand that practice makes possible and permanent, not perfect.

Just after your darkest hour the sun will rise. When you were in your darkest hours, feeling it pointless holding on, you held on anyway and the sun rose and shorn its light once again.

It is said an Eastern monarch once charged his wise men to invent him a sentence to be ever in view, and which should be true and appropriate in all times and situations. They presented him the words, “And this too, shall pass.”

In the immortal words of Abraham Lincoln: “How chastening in the hour of pride! How consoling in the depths of affliction!”

If there are more moments in your future, expect times worse than this, but also know that there will be brighter ones too.

Do not stop loving, Do not stop caring, Do not stop being you.

Above all else, be true to yourself.
Its gotten you this far.

I love you,
You, me.

Poem: Already gone.

(This is a poem about the thoughts & feelings that so many suffer with daily.)


He fought so hard“,
people would say.
And he did,
he did,
until he didn’t.

Gone, long before his heart stopped beating.
In a moment living merely became the passing of time.
He was defeated by the long hard struggle
of being alive.

He looked upon life and realised that everyone
should have the right to reject this gift
that they had never asked for.
Was it not more selfish to demand of another
that they endure the intolerable pain of existence?

In the end it takes more courage to stay
than to leave and everyone leaves eventually,
Everyone is going to hurt you.
He wished to leave, to give in
before He could see the rest leave too.

They taught him how to give up,
They gave up on him.
He gave up on him.
He gave up.
He gave.
Gave.
He poured all of his soul into the world,
He was now empty with nothing more to give.

He did not mean to drown. He was to swim until he sank,
It was not quite the same thing.
As an anchor, touching the depths of the sea,
It was comforting to know he could sink no further.

He could no longer see the point of getting up.
What was in this new day to look forward to?
All he was doing was suffering sunrises,
And the sun will rise again,
But one day he wouldn’t.

One mans treasure is another’s curse.
What he once saw as a curse,
He now saw as a treasure,
For he was no longer the same man.

For weeks he was afraid he may leave,
and then he was afraid that he wouldn’t.
There were so many things he could have become.
But he will remain, made up of possibilities,
for he was already gone.

Words, lasting longer than people.

My Talk on Mental Wellness at WordCamp Cape Town 2016

At WordCamp Cape Town this year, I gave talk on Mental Wellness, the WordPress Community, and You. An unusual talk for a tech conference, but one which needed to be spoken about – and I had no idea how it would go down.



Watch on WordPress.tv

Summary:

The main point of this talk was to raise awareness at the intensity, the struggle, and the seriousness of various Mental Wellness issues within our current space.

To raise the awareness of Employers who have Employees with issues, for Employees to understand their colleagues and employers better, for people to change the way they think about mental health in general.

To remove the stigma that mental wellness issues have, especially in the working environment, and even more so in our daily lives for those who live with it.

During my talk, I told my story. Maybe one day I will talk about it more here, but here are the main points I touched on:

  • We have too many people living in our midst who need help, but do not get it, and who are too afraid by the stigma to seek it and talk out.
  • I was one of them, I said the three hardest words during my talk: I have depression.
  • As a society, when someone breaks their arm, we run to sign their casts, but when someone has a mental issue we run the other way. We are okay with any body part breaking down, except our brains, our minds. This needs to change.
  • When you have a broken leg, you cannot leave it outside the office doors when you walk in in the morning – why do we expect this too of people who have mental health issues?
  • People should be as okay with speaking to someone on a regular basis, like a therapist, life coach, psychologist or psychiatrist. We should have subscriptions to these just as we have gyms subscriptions for our physical wellness.
  • Employers need to be more open and understanding, currently we are very far away from this.
  • Employees need to be more open with helping themselves, and seeking the help they need, or being supportive of their peers who need it.
  • We all need to be more open and understanding of the current state of Mental Wellness in the world.
  • When we ask people “How are you?” we need to starting caring about their truthful reply. When we are asked “How are you?” we need to start being more open and brave to give an honest reply. On the day of WordCamp, before my talk, I was asked sixteen times how I was, I lied sixteen times.
  • Started the WordPress Hashtag called #WPHugs, a way of sharing, appreciating and caring within the community.
  • I need you, you need us, we need each other. People need people.
  • When someone has an issue, in my case depression, people believe that its simply because of the things going on in their lives that are not going well. This is often furthest from the truth. In my case, life was at its best and I was depressed, absent, and in that time I started losing hold of life: Been through break-ups, losing friends, losing a home, feeling more hopeless, work performance dropped, and not being able to have any say or control of any of it. Those around me thought I was depressed, because these things happened. No, because I was depressed these things happened.
  • Depression is something that we know to be so common, yet know and speak the least about, as with all mental wellness issues. Its time this ended, I began the end of silence by telling the world my story, maybe you would be brave enough to tell yours? Or open enough to listen to anothers?
  • As an open source community that relies on the work of the people behind the scenes that make this possible, we need to also spread the idea of 5 for the future for ourselves, you cannot pour from an empty cup so before giving back, start giving within.
  • Stop the Silence, Remove the Stigma, Care.

After my talk, so many people opened their hearts out to me and for that I am extremely grateful. I was more than surprised at how well this was received and about how many people had been suffering in silence and are now brave enough to speak out.

Cory Miller, a very brave man told his story which inspired me to tell mine, will you tell yours? You can leave a comment or send me a link (Totally open to coffee too.)

Dear Mothers

Dear Mothers,
Please forgive us children who do not understand
That You offer only a helping hand.
A hand that has the strength to hold up the sky
and we reject you and we make you cry…
Please forgive us…

I have seen the love of mothers, of all mothers
with a love unmatched, unfathomable, unconditional.
A mothers love is love in its truest and purest form
given to all her beloved children.
You show love how love should be.

How cursed am I that God fashioned me into a man
for i shall never know the joys of being a mother.

The joys of carrying within me the life of another.
The joys of holding in my arms the life that has come
from within me.

The joys of having two souls occupy my body.
But I shall never know these joys as anything other than a witness,
a witness to the most beautiful thing in existence.
The Love shared between mother and child.

Kahlil Gibran said that Your children are not your own.

Yes, your children are indeed not your own,
They are the children of this world.
And Dear Mothers,
Although you may not have given birth to me,
You are my mother too –
all mothers to all children.

Dear Mothers,
We grow up believing you are invincible,
infallible and immortal – nothing can hurt our mother
because she is strong, the strongest being we know.
And yet, we forget that you are human too
and time will oneday take you from us
too soon… it will always be too soon.

And while you live in this mortal world
you nurture us, you feed us, you love us
and the moment we can do these things without you
Dear Mother, we forget you and all you have done for us.
We strive for “freedom and Independence”
We want to “make our own decisions”
We curse you and cast you away…

and yet, you never stop loving us.
Your love defines the word “Unconditional”
for in your every heartbeat we hear the rhythm
say, “No matter what you do, I will always love you!”
..da-dum…da-dum…da-dum…………………………

We have never stopped to think of the pain of our Mothers,
Who have children grow up to be ungrateful and uncaring,
and when their child hurts another, the mother sits crying
as if it was her fault the child was the cause of another’s dying.
We know that no Mother brings up their child to be murderers,
just as no mother brings up their child to be murdered…

We think we feel pain.
When we bruise our knees and hurt our elbows, mama kissed it better.
When we ‘grow-up’ we’re ‘too old’ for our mothers love because
no one could ever know our pain and our pain is great,
We curse you for always trying to help for it is the nature
of love to want to ease the pain of the object of love –
who loves more truly than a mother loving her child?
Yet we charge you for interfering.
“Leave me alone!”
“Stay out of my life!”
Never will we ever say such words we would do anything to be able to swallow.

But nothing compares to a mothers love
and nothing compares to a mothers pain.
To be unappreciated by ones own children,
or worse rejected and cursed…

What hurts more than a C-Section Birthing Dead Babies?

Thank God for not fashioning me into a woman
for I shall never know such pain as that of a mother.

My Dear Mothers,
I’m sorry, I’m so sorry.
Please forgive me,
I love you,
Thank you.