My hesitation in helping Keith provide aid to the refugees of Calais was not due to any of the potential dangers involved.
Before any such act, I’ve learnt the importance of becoming clear on intention. Your intention may not always match the result you get, but it is the starting point of everything you do.
The why, was therefore a big question I needed to turn over in my mind and in my heart.
Like a child that keeps asking why? Why is one of the best words I know.
My biggest concern was that any assistance I provided to the refugees would simply be an exercise to make myself feel better. A boost to my self esteem. Something I could feel proud about.
I think no matter how pure your intention, there is no escaping the fact that there will be some kind of intrinsic reward to helping others. In this way, can it ever truly be a selfless act of service to others? If you find common ground in the idea that we are the same source or energy, manifest as individuals to experience the dance of life, then all others are the self, so when you help another, you help yourself. In that way, all service to others is service to self.
This comes back to intention, why help? Why serve others? If the shoe were on the other foot and I was the one in need, I would want that help.
Am I helping because I feel responsible that the government of the country I live in has been part of the destabilisation of the countries these people are fleeing, leading to death, destruction and great suffering.
Am I responsible for the actions of the UK government who seem to have no objection to killing as part of a global puppet show designed to generate profit for a minority of people. I didn’t give my consent to any of these fuckers doing any of this.
I still don’t have the answers to any of this, not in a way that I can clearly articulate. All I can go with, is that it felt right.
On my return from Calais, this idea of self esteem hit me like a train. I became acutely aware of all the things in my life that I had placed my self esteem in:
Being a good father
Being a loving husband
Being a good lover (in my head at least)
Competing in various sports
Being able to fight if needed
Having a career path
Helping to heal people
Having the approval of others
These are some of the main things that came up, but this list is by no means exhaustive.
One by one each of these layers was taken away by a gnawing and irrational doubt until I had nothing left, sending me spiralling into a deep depression.
Deep but brief I should add, it lasted all of twelve hours. During this time I was hopeless, useless and no longer wanted to be a living human being, not for myself, not for my family, not for anyone.
Having never experienced this before I was able to cross reference the realties of this situation with some of the judgements I may have had of people that have depression and/or commit suicide.
They should just snap out of it and do something that makes them happy.
They need to find some balls and get on with life.
They are cowards.
They are selfish and don’t care for the people around them.
The last one I hear a lot about people who have committed suicide.
None of these things mattered to me in my brief bout of depression. Nothing.
It is a feeling of complete helplessness, isolation, emptiness. I felt completely lost. Worse, I was unable to talk about how I felt, I was unable to talk full stop.
My only saviour was my knowledge as a shaman. An intuition that was able to reconnect and guide me out of the darkness.
Music. And then dance. Not anyone else’s dance, not the kind of dance you usually see people doing. My own personal dance of ecstasy. For a period of 15 minutes or so I danced my depression away and reconnected with the truth of who I am.
Through this knowledge I was able to bring back my original self esteem. It had been lost in the bonds of culture, of trying to live up to idiotic ideals. Not ideals I had set for myself, but ideals others had imposed on me.
It is interesting now, to have a first hand understanding of how the most successful of business people, film stars and professional athletes can easily slip into depression. I think they are perhaps the most misunderstood cases. Almost all of their self esteem is locked into their achievements. When that gets taken away or comes under threat (real or imagined) their self esteem also comes under fire. In this way the ups and downs of life become the ups and downs of what that person feels about themselves. And there lies the link between depression and self esteem.
It’s a trap, one that we are funnelled into from the day we are born. As I danced the message came through:
Locked in the amnesia of daily life we forget our true nature, the divine spark
Never forget, in this polarised existence, the dream we call creation, that we are explorers
Children of the universe, manifest in a dance that has no beginning and no end
Pushing the boundaries of what is possible
To remember it, is to appreciate without condition, without judgement, without control
When we fear of letting go and try to control, we slow the dance and lose what is possible
We hide in the prison of our own making
So dance and see yourself in all creation
Be that creation, be that possibility, trust yourself
Lak’ech Ala K'in
Can you look at your own life, what is your self esteem tied up in? If you’re not enough without it, you’ll never be enough with it.
And so my own journey continues. Along the path of the Shaman. Many people seem to have a skewed idea of what I am or should be as a Shaman. They think I should be all love and light, the caring smile of the local vicar, the giving nature of a buddhist monk. No. I am not an imposter.
I am all things. As a shaman I must understand all of creation. I enjoy the love, I seek to heal but I go where I need to in order to do this. Healing is not always a comfortable joyous occasion. The process can be challenging and that’s not something I’ll shy away from. If this means dancing out your demons and showing you the mirror you’ve been hiding from all your life, then this is what I’ll do. I’ll make no apologies for this.