Perception. Truth. Desire.

child-958067_960_720Two days ago I had an interesting conversation with a man whom I had just met. This man was a thinker, a man who not only read, but also thought a lot. Since such thinkers are rapidly becoming endangered in our world, I did not want to miss the chance of a quality conversation. The subjects I offered was reality and truth and, after only a few moments, another subject sprang to life – perception. As we talked, we reached to a conclusion that, it is often our perception of the reality which gives birth to our personal truths. But, as we all know, our perception of the reality can be very different from the true reality, and although the reality is only one – that, which surrounds us – many of us live in their own reality, something born out of their own perception.

A child, afraid of the dark, afraid of the other kids and of being alone. A young girl, refusing to go to any celebration, any party, for fear than all the other girls will look better than her. A succesful middle-aged man who, after being betrayed by his wife, never opens his heart to pursue another relationship. Pain and sorrow. Loss of heart. And, as we know, things never stay the same in life, they change, either for better, or for worse…

And so there they are…a young man – secretive, withdrawn, haunted by unseen torments, a loner, doomed to a life in the shadows. An old lady, gnawed by bitterness and sorrow,  living with a man she had married not for love, but for fear of being alone forever. A grave, visited by no son or daughter, because a heart that was pierced once, had chosen to bleed and die alone.

Reality. Perception. Truth.

‘I`ve got my truth and you have yours,’ is what we often say, in order to be, or appear more understanding and, sometimes simply to avoid confrontation.

‘If I see you on the street,’ said my companion, ‘I might think you are a very nice man. Another person, however, might dislike you. In both cases, that opinion has little to do with you and a lot to do with the person who perceives you, through the prism of their own mind, their past experiences and opinions.’

He was right. Dead right. And here is where I must ask the question – are there really that many truths, or are there simply many different people, with many different ‘lenses’, shaped by life, through which we see all we look at? As most of us will agree, the world is far from what we would like it to be and we are therefore, all affected by a heartbreak, to a lesser or greater degree. If people are then damaged, why would not their perception of what is truth, be damaged also? If we are to see through their eyes, we will perceive unspeakable horrors, in the case of the boy, a world of people next to whom we are nothing, as the girl did, and a life where no real love exist, as the middle-aged man deeply believed.

For decades what I saw in myself was weakness and inability. I was filled with unbelief and bitter sadness when, sometimes, others spoke, quite unexpectedly, of the strength and ability they saw in me. Alas, for nearly three decades I did not know that to be true and, therefore, did not live from my heart. Rather, I shrank back, into the familiar darkness where, although unhappy, I was relatively safe. Aren`t most of us still doing that? Living for safety. Living small. Living with our own truth.

It is death.

A truth that bears such fruits cannot be true, it must not be true. Indeed, if we, who are living in our own reality, take that reality to be the ultimate truth about life, the world and ourselves, then we must either believe in many, often opposing ‘truths’, or else be divided and cut off from each other, each human being its own universe. It is not hard to see then, why most of us prefer the first option. If then, our own very perceptions are marred, how will we ever know what really is truth?

We must look at our desires.
Regardless of what the society, organised religion, or education tell us, we must desire more, not less. Indeed, we humans are satisfied with too little, and that is one of our biggest problem. Our story is safe, but too small to live in. Our thirst is too easily quenched.
A house. A spouse. Old age filled with cake and card games. A lifetime of waiting for death.
But if we, only for a moment, examine our true hearts, we might get, for the first time, a glimpse of the greatness which we are made for. Desire, when it is at last unveiled, will lead us into all that is truth.
May we all have the courage to desire more.

 

 

The Heart has its Reasons of which Reason Knows Nothing.

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I had no idea when exactly it had happened. At the age of two, three, or four maybe. The event surfaced during an attempt to discover the roots of the depression which had dogged my heels and darkened my days since my youth. I did not know that the constant tiredness, the gloom, the despair and the weakness, both emotional and physical, were signs of something else, some deep tension which source had never been faced…

Two days ago I lost some money. I had lost money before, of course, among other things, but on that day, things were different. The feelings of despair, sorrow and the physical weakness that swept over me, were far surpassing the reality of the current events.

Looking out through the window, I saw a young fox crouching in the grass. The fact that the fox was young, almost a baby, did something to my soul. I felt tender and somehow dangerously vulnerable. I love animals and I am usually very happy to see one, but no, not this time. Tears ran down my face as I looked at the young fox…I knew it was going to suffer, sooner or later, I knew the poor creature was going to die…only a young fox…a baby…

Yes, the heart of the child within me was weighed down with sorrow. And this time, unlike what I have done for decades, I listened. I listened to my heart. I let the boy speak.

This is a cruel, cold world…

People are cruel. People are cold…

The sobs shook my body. I was that child and I wasn`t going to run anymore.

I don`t belong here. I don`t want to live in this world…

I want to die!!!

The sorrow poured out from me, each sob calling more to the surface. Tears, not shed for decades, now freely rolled down my face. I had been running from my emotions for far too long, I said to myself inwardly, and if God could bring healing to all those other areas, He`d better be able to handle this, because I can`t.

Who hurt you, son?

I listened, wondering about the nature of the question.

Boys…bigger boys around you. Pushing you, mocking you. Mocking a little boy who stands alone in their midst. A little boy who should not have been alone…

I did not know the answer. However, a very familiar feeling began to build up within my chest, causing my jaw to clench in a way I knew only too well. I had only ever clenched my jaw in that way when I have been fighting the tears and the murderous anger, preventing them from coming on the surface. Films in which innocent people suffered, especially children, or even animals. Yes, little, defenseless animals, and little defenseless children – this was what always made me react in that way. Reading a history book where wars or genocides are described in details, watching a program, or hearing some of the heart-breaking stories of the people I work with – my reaction to the suffering of the little ones was always the same – stony face, clenched jaw, and a tight knot in my stomach. And it was only at the age of thirty-one, few years into the journey of the recovering of my true heart, that I was finally ready to face the reality that raged within me. Behind the smile hid a bitter heart that hated humanity and all the harm it did to the world.

What did they do to you, my son? What did those boys do? Do you remember…

Bitter tears. White knuckles. Eyes which would not look away from the carpet bellow. Shame, fear and hatred – murder, lurking deep within the soul that had suddenly become very young.

Son…express it. Tell them now…you could never speak, you could never tell them…because your father was not there. He should have protected you, son. He should have faced them, not you. You were too little, my boy…you were never meant to do this!

As the warm, loving words resounded in the depths of my spirit, I turned to face the opposite wall.

‘I…hate you…’

Over and over again, slowly at first.

I want to kill you…you bastards!!! I will kill you!!!’

Keep going, son, feel the anger rising within you..let it come, do not suppress it any longer, you can do it now, I am with you!

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‘I WILL KILL YOU!!!’

My fist hit the sofa with a loud thud, again and again. Each blow released something in me and it brought new, fresh bursts of murderous, red-hot anger. A new sense of being swept through my body, as if some center of vitality had finally awakened inside me and a new life spread within me. My body, which had been, in a spiritual way, separated from my mind and soul, was finally co-operating, responding to the feeling without being prevented by the mind which always had a reason to block its responses. The fear that I will, again, fail to access my deepest feelings, quickly evaporated as the wave of energy rushed through my body. I was angry! I was alive!

Growing up, I often wondered why I couldn`t seem to be able to get angry when other boys provoked me. I got angry with my mother at home, but in the face of the masculine threat, no trace of anger was found. Fear, shame, and paralysing shock took its place. The fear returned when, later, my mother, or another, ‘weaker’ child did something that upset me, no matter how small. At last, I was beginning to see where the anger was hiding and why I feared other, more ‘manly’ men so much as to never be able to be myself around them. Anger is good, and anger is just, as long as it is the right anger, at the right time. It is that misplace anger which causes so much troubles among us, and its roots often lie in our past where it was right and proper to express it in the face of the injustice we had once faced. The human heart knows good from evil even when we don`t, it knows injustice even when we say it doesn`t matter…

Tell them they are cowards to take advantage of a little boy like that. Tell them to come and try now, when you are bigger and stronger. Come on, son, tell them!

‘You!’ I gasped. ‘You! Why don`t you come and try now, huh???’

My fist smashed into the sofa again and my body jerked forward, my eyes flashing murderously toward the wall beyond which a boy was being mistreated by a group of bullies.

‘Do you hear me, you cowardly bastards!!! Do you wanna try now??? COME ON THEN!!!’

‘I WILL KILL YOU!!’

‘I WILL F…KING KILL YOU, YOU MOTHERF…ERS!’

A beaming, radiant face of a proud father. The face of a God who is too big and too wild to fit any church. A God, feared by religion. An immortal God who was once killed by those who claimed to know Him.

Son! Oh my son! I am so proud of you. I am so proud of you, look at you. You are strong, do you see it now. It was a lie, a lie! Oh. I am so proud of you…

Life. Peace. Joy. daisy-1317232_960_720And, with only the wilful choice at first, forgiveness. Yes, true forgiveness can only come after facing that which should be forgiven. A heart which is neglected is a heart which is not loved. And, as Pascal said, it has its reasons of which reason knows nothing. It thus becomes disobedient and who can blame it? But a heart which is loved is a heart which is expressed. Love frees. Love heals. Love restores.

There is no love without the heart. There is no god, apart from the God who made the heart.

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Freedom.

 

 

The Boy. The World.

boy-854401_960_720There was once a little boy. He was curious, alive and full of hope, as, indeed, most of us are at the beginning of our journey. An unseen, benevolent hand had created this boy in the sweet blissful safety of a realm, filled with love, beauty, and adventure. Then, by some unknown reason, he had been dropped in another, different world, the one in which he was destined to start his life. This world was also a fascinating place, and as beautiful as the one the boy had come from. However, in times long forgotten, something had happened to this world and now a sense of looming danger often hung in the air, even on the most sunlit days. Darkness lurked in places where once there had been only sunshine and joy. Joy, however, still abounded in that world and, just like the beauty, always made itself known to those who sought it.

The boy, naturally, knew nothing of darkness, having come from such a glorious realm. As a baby, he lay in his crib, watching the colours of the light change on the wall above him. In a way beyond reason, he loved the flickering of the sun rays and the song of the little bird which always perched on their roof. Every day, as he lay there, looking at the wall, something extraordinary happened. A sense of love filled his young soul, as if  something precious and eternal was calling to him from a faraway land. As the boy listened, he heard sounds of sea-waves, cries of pre-historic animals and birds, and some mysterious laughter which, though unknown, sounded oddly familiar. Lying in his crib day after day, he saw and heard many things. The sounds, the feelings, the smells, came to him, bypassing sense in the human way.

Although they came as a revelation from another world, they urged him to open his heart toward the world he was already in, as if his world – crib, parents and all, was somehow connected to that other one, or even, was the other one, or rather, was becoming it, shaped by the same unseen hand, which…but the baby did not think about all that, of course. Babies do not think, they trust. And, naturally, the little boy trusted his heart, which brought him closer to that wonderful world every day. He somehow knew that, if his heart was connected to such wild, glorious beauty, all must be well with him. He belongs to some story, bigger than his own. He is valued. He is good. And, every night, he slept peacefully. His dreams were filled with the sweet music of a world which, though ancient and forgotten, was not at all lost.

Of course, as is the case with all babies, our boy`s parents did not think much of his perceptual abilities. After all, he was a baby and babies, as we know, cannot think or perceive the world the way older humans do. But the parents knew nothing of the realm their boy had come from and the magical hand that had created him. His heart, the center of his vast inner universe, was active, sensitive, and very much alive. More alive than their own, in fact. Although he lacked the capacity to remember, or be conscious of himself, in his heart he knew a lot. He felt a lot.

And that was the problem.

* * *

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The new world failed to meet the boy`s inner expectations. He was, after all, from another world. And although he did not experience any harm at the hands of his parents who, indeed, loved him and did their best to provide for him, something shifted in the heart which once overflowed with anticipation and joy. As he was growing up, the visits from the other world gradually became less frequent. Eventually they started coming only after nightfall and soon, only in his dreams. Although limited to a few hours of restless, uneasy sleep, they kept coming night after night, with a surprising tenacity. As if there was someone out there, maybe the mysterious wizard himself, who relentlessly pursued the boy. With every dream, came a whisper from that secret realm, memories of which still lived deep in the boy`s heart. Using every opportune moment, the wizard tried as hard as he could to reach him.

Sadly, such moments became more and more seldom as the years rolled by.

The hopes, the dreams, the longing for more, slowly died within the boy who was now a man. Although he was very successful in the new world, his heart withered within him. It missed the old realm, the magic and mystery of its true home, and, not being allowed to think of it, it lay imprisoned in a dark dungeon. The subtle, often unspoken messages which came from his parents and his peers, as well as life`s tragedies, had done their job. He was now a respectable man, a lawyer with a wife and a five-year old son. He was, in fact, happy, at least most of the time. But lying in his bed in the wee hours of the morning, the feelings and emotions that arose within him, told a very different story. In such moments, a dark cloud hung over him, blotting out the light, smothering all goodness and joy in his life. These were the times when old monsters stirred. Imprisoned long ago in the basement of his soul, they crawled out, emboldened by the darkness. Drenched in sweat, the boy, now a man, stared at the ceiling, waiting for the darkness to pass.

On one such night, he woke up with a start and looked around. The warm, delicate body of his wife next to him rhythmically rose and fell with her breathing. Looking at the woman he loved, he felt something, a stir which, although hardly perceptible, seemed to dispel the gloom in his soul for a moment. As if some unseen, but alive and almost recognisable mystery urged him to look closely at the all that was around, and within him. There is more, the faint feeling seemed to be saying. There is more.

But the boy, now a man, could not bear to hear such distant, floating promises any longer. He needed clarity. He needed help. And as hard as he tried, he could not see why he was so lost. Turning his eyes away from his wife, he looked through the window, peering at the darkness outside.

The darkness peered back at him. It spoke.

Its message was clearer than that faint sense, possibly a trace of some pleasant but old memory, which he had felt just moments earlier. Black, evil words were uttered. The darkness knew him, maybe more than he knew himself. He feared it. He could no longer run from what he thought was the truth about him.

He hated himself, deep within his lonely, broken heart.

* * *

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As most of us know, feelings which cannot be explained at the present are often rooted in the past, and this was also true for our friend, the boy who was now a man. Ever since his father left home, back when he was six, a dark veil hung over the boy`s life. Although decades had passed since, he never forgot the first night after his dad`s departure.

The sudden chill, the deafening silence in the living room, the heartbreaking sobs coming from his mother`s bedroom, the weight of so many unanswered questions…it was all too much for the little boy. Bewildered, having nowhere and nobody to go to, the boy crawled up into the attic. Sitting alone in the dark, he cried, and for the first time in his life, nobody came to comfort him. Weeping over the loss of the man he loved most in his life, he felt abandoned and alone.

But up there in the darkness, he was not alone.

An unseen, powerful being hid in the shadows, lying in wait for the young, unprotected boy. It whispered poisonous lies to the child who, knowing nothing of the realm of darkness, believed them. The tears rolling down his face in the cold, gloomy room, soon turned into rivers of hot, bitter acid, scorching a trail across his heart. It was his fault that his father left, he said to himself, over and over again. The pain of the loss and the sudden, fierce hatred, was too much for the young boy. As he believed the lies, whispered to him in the darkness, he killed and buried his own heart. His innocent, wonderful heart.

In vain did the wizard sent dream after  dream, calling after his lost son. The door through which they once came was now barred.

The man who had once been a boy pulled himself up from the bed, trying not to awake his sleeping wife. Five minutes later, he stood in the bedroom, dressed in his best suit. He softly kissed the warm forehead of the woman who shared his life and left the room. His son moaned in his sleep as the lips of his father touched the skin of his face. He did not startle, the man remarked inwardly as pangs of sudden sorrow shot through his heart. He did not know what to do with sorrow when it came. He had long lost his ability to express strong emotions, ever since than night in the attic, when he cried for a last time in his life. From that time on, he buried everything – his anger, the fear and that fierce hatred which boiled inside him. It had worked pretty well all these years – everyone loved the nice guy that he was, including his wife…

With silent steps, he left the room. He had no time to waste.

The car shot down the empty coastline road, heading toward a dirt path which was only for pedestrians. Ignoring the signs, it roared onto the track, speeding toward the edge of the cliff. As the car left the solid ground, the man behind the wheel, now a boy again, began to cry. The car hit the stormy ocean with a crash and plunged into the dark, cold depths.

The little boy stood alone in the kitchen. His mother lay unconscious on the floor. She had fainted after receiving a call from the police, confirming that her husband was dead. Standing nearby, her son heard everything. Shocked, bewildered, the boy tried to wake his mother up but to no avail. Utterly alone, under a burden too great for him, he wanted to cry, shout or scream, but no sound escaped his lips. In a half-conscious daze, he put his slippers on and wandered up the stairs. Opening the door of the attic, he slipped into the cold, gloomy room and sat on the floor. The sobs shook his small body as the warm tears ran down his face.

But up there in the darkness, he was not alone.

 

THE END

 

 

Depression

depressionFor most of us life is safe. We live nice and cosy lives, where all that has even a hint of danger is cleaned, clipped, sprayed, or sterilised. We have become comfortable, maybe too much for our own good.

I too, am a child of the progress, and although the low-fat, pre-cooked, danger-free  life sometimes really gets me, I am grateful for the peace and safety that it offers, at least externally.

Alas, darkness ever stalks the human race, and its malice is revealed not only when the enemy rushes upon our walls but, as is often the case in our world, when the enemy is within those walls.

The grey cloud of gloom is one such enemy.

Although many of us suffer, or have suffered from depression, and despite all the information that now exists about it, it remains an enemy, almost impossible to entirely defeat. Some of the symptoms of depression are, according to the NHS, lasting feelings of sadness and hopelessness, feeling constantly tired, sleeping badly, having no appetite or sex drive, and complaining of various aches and pains.

In some of his books, author Gordon Dalbey states that depression is the opposite of expression. That is, if you have been ‘de-pressing’ something, down in the depths of your inner being, you may end up feeling depressed. According to my experience, and that of others around me, this is true. Often, that which we are depressing is a strong emotion, the most common, in my experience, being anger toward those who shared our childhood. The tiredness which I felt for most of my life did, indeed, turn out to be real and valid exhaustion – after all, as Dalbey says, it takes a lot of energy to constantly push down, and depress old childhood emotions which, though rooted in the past, are as valid and real as those in the present. Thus, along with tiredness, other symptoms can be truncated sleep, deep-seated anxiety, and the deep sadness which, as was the case in my life, drapes itself over us even during the brightest of moments. Yes, this is my story, too. We men are especially good at suppression our emotions, and the suicide rates prove it.

When the heart, that deepest inner self, born and made for freedom and fearless expression of itself to the world, is depressed, it is forced to sink into dark depths where it belongs as much as the Queen of England belongs in the squalid slums.

Think of it – how much freer and happier you would be, and how much you would have contributed to the world if it wasn`t for your depression, that lifelessness, the gray cloud, ever hanging over your immortal soul? How much happier those around you will be if the cloud lifted, never to return? And what will you be able to finally do, when it is gone?

The world needs you.

Don’t ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive, and go do that, because what the world needs is people who have come alive.

Howard Thurman was right. Being fully alive is not impossible to achieve. Hard, painful – maybe, but not impossible. Healing can come. And I think that, although medications are important, and in fact needed, they cannot deal with the root cause of depression, and therefore, fail to provide lasting solution. If they did, they would not be needed on a daily basis, for periods of years, even decades. Yes, we should take them, and indeed, take more seriously the life-preserving help they offer, but not look to them for the restoration our heart needs. It is there, in our heart, where we must look, and ask ourselves those questions which we have avoided all our life. They will hurt, wound us, and cut deep into our being and bleed us dry…but it is by this bleeding, that the poison will begin to seep out of our soul. That which was forged in pain, can only be re-forged through pain. Along the way, we will face hardships and many enemies. They will whisper to us that all this was long ago, or that it did not matter, or even that we somehow deserved our fate. I use the word ‘enemies’ for a reason. We must overcome them.

That which has been depressed, must be expressed.

Go, and may your pain open the floodgates of joy.