With tattooed arms, wild hair, glorious shoes and eccentric personalities, I met two soul sisters from my tribe last night. Rahla Xenopoulos and Melinda Ferguson were in discussion over Melinda’s new book, Crashed. They’re funny, inspiring, and deep as hell. They reflect on lessons learned from addiction and the edge of sanity. Memoirs reflect their hanging on broken fingernails struggles, and the small daily victories and failures. The message of the colourful conversation danced between their words: Transformation.
“For whatever we lose (a you or a me)
It’s always ourselves we find in the sea.”
The ocean is a powerful force that cannot be tamed, and even the bravest humans have learnt to respect its liquid fists. The very best have discovered a way to channel that blue energy instead of fighting it, giving in to the flow and letting the cresting waves lead the dance.
Chris Bertish, one of the world’s handful of big wave surfers (these waves are mini-tsunamis), has just released his biography, entitled Stoked. Surfer jargon for damn happy, it epitomises Chris’s passionate attitude to life.
I was expecting a thrilling read about his career and the ocean which my dolphin heart adores, but I wasn’t prepared for the wisdom he traced in beautiful lines of ink. I didn’t anticipate the metaphors looping around the intensity of depression and the surprising ways we can learn to master it and use its energy, instead of fighting it. Because, just like the ocean, it will kick our asses if we try, almost every time.
When I launched my blog two days ago, purposefully silently into the ether, I also got my first tattoo to seal the day and my mission forever. I will explain, through this post, why I chose the honest lines of soul ink that I did.
Yesterday when I had lunch with a friend, she noticed my tat immediately and asked what the significance of it was. As I explained my connection to the semi-colon project, and how close it hit to home, she asked me a question I wasn’t quite prepared to answer:
“I’ve been depressed. I’ve had some dark moments. But I’ve never once thought about taking my life. To be honest, I don’t understand why someone would ever feel the need to do that. Why? What goes through your mind in those moments?”
Sometimes the pages of a particular book seem to morph into hands that take hold of your lungs and squeeze so hard it feels like you can barely breathe. “The Devil Within,” by Stephanie Merritt, holds just that much longer, so that by the end you are gasping for metaphorical air.
“Depressed people are hard to love and require extraordinary patience, just as sometimes it seems impossible to love and be loved from inside the darkest heart of depression. Depression is the loneliest place on earth; no one can reach you there, when you most need to be reached, and even the most steadfast, unswerving love of family and friends must remain an abstract knowledge until you emerge enough to feel again. To believe that life – your life – matters, that what you have to offer is worthwhile, when you are least able to feel it, requires nothing less than faith.”