My last blog was about poor old me worrying my way toward the final steps in the sale of my beloved ‘Seafire’ on this coming weekend. I thank those readers who have offered their warm support and kind comments to help me through the angst of the next few days. I am coping by staying busy indoors and out. I’ve sorted through my recent photo files, tinkered on the camper van, did some dog-sitting for friends and put together yet another short video from my recent trip. I am scheming ways to produce some income and looking forward to whatever comes next. This too shall pass. Idle hands find the devil’s work it is said. So it’s head down, arse up while staying gainfully busy. I am never stuck for things to do.
And then it happened. The van sold, in less than a day of advertising it. Remember the song, “The thrill is gone?” Change the word thrill to van…yeah you’ve got it! Yes, I immediately bought a lottery ticket. May my karma not run over my dogma. Here is the latest video from the recent trip.
I need just enough to tide me over until I need more. …Bill Hoest
I am a fan of Ted Talks and if you don’t know what they are, do a web search. You’ll be hooked. Thanks to my old friend Jimmy I’ve just reviewed a Ted Talk presentation by an incredible guitarist named Tommy Emmanuel. His guitar skills are fabulous and at the end of his gig he says to the audience “Folks, life is not a rehearsal. Now get on with it!” That kicked me where the sun doesn’t shine! I’ve just read my first blog, now a two year old commitment to myself and the world. Shocked, sickened, I wonder what the hell I’ve been doing.
In that time I’ve tacked, gybed, reefed, hove-to and back-tracked ostensibly in hot pursuit of my goal of sailing away. I know where I want to go and why, have the talent to do it, yet I’ve made little progress. I’ve had health issues, have been severely screwed over by unscrupulous people but there is nobody to blame but myself. I am not trying to solicit sympathy or empathy (although cash would be fine says this old pirate). I am trying to affirm the emotional plagues of winter which I know afflicts so many other folks. Depression, for me, is a tangible hereditary disorder I’ve wrestled with all my life and the dark days of winter bring out the worst of this curse. I’ve written my share about the problem and I’m not about to dissect it here other than to offer support and affirmation for those with enough courage to admit they too suffer from this very tangible problem. It is not simply an issue of bad attitude or self-pity but you can soon become your own black hole if you don’t force yourself to do whatever is necessary to rise above the darkness. In one Ted Talk, depression is described not as the opposite of happiness but rather the lack of vitality. I do affirm that.
I’ve been back home in lower latitudes for nearly three weeks. The arthritic pain of the North Coast’s extreme dampness has eased but old injuries still suck at my essence. That is being dealt with at the stately pace of our medical system. Broke, with few prospects for the moment, I’ve soon found myself imploding with only enough energy to make more excuses for my downward spiral. Fortunately, every year I find wonderful rapport and affirmation by attending the Fisher Poets Gathering in Astoria, Oregon. Today was the final day to commit to perform this year. I have some good excuses for not going and almost said no. I don’t have the funds for any of it but I’ll find a way and will come home uplifted immensely, knowing I have helped do the same for my peers and my audience. There is a direct link to the Fisher Poets Website in the right hand side bar of this blog. With a little poking about you can find my name under the list of performers found “In The Tote” and hear me reading of some of my work as well as several other writers and musicians. If you’d like a break from winter, have a sniff of spring and a great time in an incredible town which has arisen from its own ashes, I’d love to see you there.
Meanwhile old ‘Seafire’ languishes at the dock. Despite my daily visits, she sleeps quietly, waiting for some attention as soon as the weather warms and improves enough for me to tackle my list of chores, big and little. There’s a story or two in that I promise. I also have a stack of writing, including several books, needing a final edit and posting on Amazon. You can’t catch fish if you don’t go fishing and books that are not published aren’t going to sell. There’s a story about a boy who is accidentally locked in a barn. Days later, he is found. All the manure has been shovelled up and piled neatly in one end of the building. When queried about this he replied wearily, “With all this shit I knew there had to be a pony in here somewhere.” It’s all about attitude. Dig on.
I receive frequent enquiries about what sort of camera equipment I use. The type of equipment you have has little to do with the photos you take. Most of my camera gear is old and beat-up. It is not what I would choose if permitted a shopping spree in a camera store but it is what I can afford. I don’t begin to use the potential magic in even these humble machines. Exotic camera equipment will not produce better photographs if the nut holding it does not have a good understanding of the art. To illustrate my point, the photos in this blog were all taken with my lowly cell phone around Ladysmith in the last few days . The concept has been around for quite a while now but taking photographs with a telephone still seems incongruous to me. Mind you, one of my cameras has a GPS and altimeter built into it. You wouldn’t believe what I can do with my new toothbrush!
If you find the accelerating technology around you alarming, and like me, long for an older, more steadfast era, then the closing photos in this blog might soothe the savage beating in your breast. There is an old design mantra which says that if it looks good, it works good.
The boat is the “Curve Of Time”, a name taken from the title from the famous book by Wylie Blanchet. If you’re not familiar with the work and you’re learning about it in this blog you’re probably the sort of person who would enjoy it very much. The venerable tome is still available. The venerable vessel is a North Sea side-trawler, Dutch-built in 1959. her original fishing registration and home port can still been seen on her bows under the paint. After that career she was a Greenpeace vessel, the proverbial sword turned ploughshare. She has since enjoyed a third calling as a charter boat and research vessel which has introduced many people to the wonders of the West Coast. To my eye, she is a pleasing sight from all angles and… she’s for sale! Long may the sight of her quicken the hearts of romantics and dreamers wherever she may voyage.
“The lecture ends, ‘Slow down. You’re not as young as you once were.’ and I have seen so many begin to pack their lives in cotton wool, smother their impulses, hood their passions, and gradually retire from their manhood into a kind of spiritual and physical semi-invalidism. In this way they are encouraged by wives and relatives, and it’s such a sweet trap.
Who doesn’t like to be a center for concern? A kind of second childhood falls on so many men. They trade their violence for the promise of a small increase of life span. In effect, the head of the household becomes the youngest child. And I have searched myself for this possibility with a kind of horror. For I have always lived violently, drunk hugely, eaten too much or not at all, slept around the clock or missed two nights of sleeping, worked too hard and too long in glory, or slobbed for a time in utter laziness. I’ve lifted, pulled, chopped, climbed, made love with joy and taken my hangovers as a consequence, not as a punishment. I did not want to surrender fierceness for a small gain in yardage. My wife married a man; I saw no reason she should inherit a baby.”….
A single dark event in the history of the world has produced an amazing positive result. All of the media posts of the world covered the story ahead of all else, and there are some dire circumstances out there. Of greatest interest to me was that throughout the day no-one discussed the tragedy. It was, I think, too poignant, too personal to toss around. I am writing about the suicide of one of my heroes, Robin Williams. I too suffer from chronic depression and like all of my fellow sufferers around the world it was easy to recognize in this incredible man. He denied being bi-polar or clinically depressed but I can tell you that all those manic, hilarious public highs we knew him for were often matched by similar private lows. From the various accounts I have gleaned, his death wasn’t an easy one. There are much easier, painless methods of ending your life than slashing your wrists and then hanging yourself in the closet with a belt. I know. I’m 62 years old and I’ve thought about it on and off for nearly a lifetime. He was determined to go.
When I first heard the news I was shattered and immediately plunged into a manic state of grief. Williams was an icon of positive reinforcement to me, an example of turning dark energy into something uplifting and joyful. He was a symbol of hope to me. Think of the light this one incredible comedian and actor left in millions of eyes. Clearly fame, wealth, and all the available options thatcan bring, while surrounded by adoring people were not enough to stay the massive urge to self-destruct. His sense of hopelessness overwhelmed him to a point of not being able to stand his personal pain anymore.
Depression is NOT simply weakness or bad attitude. It is a disease of the brain, electrical and/ or chemical. I like to see myself as one tough old blue-collared dude who was able to out-work, out-endure extremes of pain, cold, heat, loneliness, poverty; generally a tough old sonofabitch. I took a very long time, until I was forty years old, to admit I had a serious issue with depression. I shall always feel profound sadness when I think of all the pain I’ve caused so many who have tried and those who still try so hard to love me. I’m very bright and talented and I’m no axe-murderer but it must be damned hard to believe in someone who doesn’t feel the same way about themselves. I’ve written a book about my experience with this bastardly thing called depression and all the stigmatizing that society imposes.
Writing “Sins Of The Fathers” was somewhat cathartic but putting it out there was also the toughest thing I’ve ever done. The book is available online through ‘Chipmunka Publishing.’ My hope was that it would enlighten folks who don’t understand how severe depression is indeed a tangible disease which affects many aspects of a person’s life and well-being. I also wanted to offer affirmation to fellow sufferers. A sense of utter loneliness and feeling that no-one else can possibly understand you is often part of the incredible weight you carry. If you have any of all the myriad of other human afflictions, for example cancer or a heart problem, there is a ton of empathy and sympathy. When the human brain, easily our most complex organ, and probably most abused, doesn’t perform flawlessly, the sufferer is often shunned and treated like a pariah. That only exacerbates the problem.
That is why Williams death can be used as a positive thing. He has left a lot of joy and even wisdom behind that will have lasting benefit to us all. But that someone as prominent, as adored, deified, and as accessible to help as Robin Williams was, has killed himself stunned the world. The other thousand or more daily suicides never make the news. They never will but I believe this story has raised everyone’s awareness. One of four people, have, have had, or will have some form of mental illness in their lifetime. Look in the mirror. Think about it.
Na-Nu Na-Nu Mork.
“You’re only given one little spark of madness. You mustn’t lose it.”
Sometimes the enormity of life is overwhelming. My last blog described the gormless sense of self-entitlement some people demonstrate in their frantic quest for distraction from the drudgery of life. I realized that a symptom of my own flaws is when I find annoyance at other folks trying to celebrate life. When I’m in a ‘Ha, Bumhug’ mood nothing will cheer me up.
Yes, this crusty old barnacle admits to having fought a lifelong battle with, what the medical bunch describes as, chronic depression. One of my books, ‘Sins Of The Fathers’ deals with the darkness of living with bi-polar disorder and overcoming the weight of this much misunderstood condition. I’m not sure I did a good job of enlightening those who don’t understand the illness or of helping those who do. I’m not about to make an effort to further those interests here except to say that regardless of what many people think, it IS a tangible illness, it is NOT simply a matter of bad attitude, self pity or negative thinking. To survive a lifetime despite the instinct for self-destruction is a very positive achievement on its own. To find occasional joy, to pursue creative interests and to cling tenaciously to a goal, no mater how remote it seems, is a triumph. I’d be happy to discuss this subject person to person. (Or even sell you copy of my book)
“Keep yer pecker up!”
This past week has been one where dark demons have been shaking my tree and I’m plodding out of it ever towards the shimmering mirage of a dream I’m determined to reach.
It occurs to me that depression is not merely a personal cross. It is the unacknowledged epidemic running rampant through Western society and is the root from which so many other medical and social illnesses grow. To consume has become our reason to be (See my link to ‘Story Of Stuff’) and none of us can live up to the demands of all the advertising imposed on us incessantly. None of us are good enough, pretty enough, wealthy enough, drive a fine enough car, go on enough exotic vacations, have a good enough sex life, have happy enough pets…… The pressure is relentless and insidious. Is clinical depression a product of nurture or nature? Yes!
When I was a child the world you were born into was believed to be the one you would inhabit. It was reasonable to think that the world had parameters and you could actually be educated and prepared for a place in it. How do you prepare children now for an environment that is evolving so quickly, no one can comprehend it or what the future holds? Think back five or ten years to what the world was like and how it is now. Honestly, did you have any idea? Without the sense of security of a tangible existence and future, no wonder we’re all a bit anxious. No wonder so many people have substance abuse issues, or can’t keep functional personal relationships or spend so much time in pursuit of distraction.
The headline for this blog is a quote from a man I was interviewing for a job; now many years ago. Those words are his description of the meaning of life. I’ve since found nothing more eloquent; a few words from one simple blue-collar working man.
Meanwhile, work on the preparations of ‘Seafire’ continues, one screw at a time.
I’ll close out this musing with the following quote from Marianne Williamson which was used as part of Nelson Mandela’s inaugural speech.
‘Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful, beyond measure.
It is our light, not our darkness that frightens us.
We ask ourselves, ”Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?”
Actually, who are you not to be?
You are a child of God.
Your playing small does not serve the world.
There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that
other people won’t feel insecure around you.
We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us.
It is in everyone, and, as we let our light shine,
We unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.