Today is the autumn equinox. It doesn’t seem like 5 minutes since I filmed a video for the equinox last year. I remember that morning well, as usual I got up early; but on that morning, I had headed to the beach just north of Deal and Sandown Castle. The sun was a beautiful red half orb, as I arrived, shimmering on the horizon. The air was still and the sound of the waves brushing up against the shore was immediately beautiful, intoxicating and soothing. With autumn nigh, I breathed in deeply and I remember the feeling of the cool air as it filled my lungs and as ever, I gave thanks for my life, both its physical form and the spiritual driving force. It’s a fantastic time to stop and reflect, give thanks and have gratitude.
Its usual and easy to talk about where we are, what we are doing and where we are going, and talk about balance. The personal one that is, the one that we should all be striving for, the one that gives us peace on the inside. The one that allows us to celebrate and enjoy life, even when it’s tough and feels like it’s playing games with us. Often, we don’t know we are out of balance until we find it. It’s hard to go looking for something we don’t know we need.
I was watching Virgin River the other day, a drama prog on Netflix. The lead fella was beginning to drink a little heavily. Heavily enough that he was confusing priorities and becoming remote and unreliable to those who loved and trusted him. He was extremely reluctant to accept help at all, even less actually admit that maybe he had a problem at all.
‘I’m OK, I just need a drink, or two, and I’ll be OK’. ‘There’s nothing wrong with me’.
I think we’ve all been there at some point. No one likes to admit they have a problem, especially if they think they can fix it themselves, especially in the short term. The difficulty is that most short-term solutions only hide the problem, mask it. Often only actually adding fuel to the fire. I know it, only too well.
If we look to the world around us, the countryside, as I do, many of the answers are there. Everything is moving slowly and just minding its own business.
Moving and minding.
Two very important words, moving and minding. We seem to live our lives at a hundred miles an hour, unless we are upset, at which point we often stop completely and dwell on our problems. Just when we need to be moving. This is the point where often we will then look for a ‘quick fix’, drink, drugs, food or adrenaline rush. Or maybe ‘hit’ out at those we care about either verbally or physically. Why those we care about? Because generally, they’ll take it, and the consequences will be fewer. In the short term at least.
Even then generally we still won’t ask for help. Is it because we are worried that our self-image will suffer; firstly to ourselves. ‘There’s nothing wrong with me.’ Secondly, to others, ‘I’m OK, there’s nothing wrong with me!’ Especially if you’re a fella. We’ve been brought up to believe, ‘I’m man the hunter, therefore on a Friday I shall go out and get drunk’. ‘Man up and deal with it!’
It’s easy to say ‘Oh, it’s social media and the news’, but I suspect we’ve had this issue long before the golden age of Information Technology (IT). Maybe it’s more to do with the need to feel like we are doing OK by ourselves or believe that we are better than others. Or ‘they are doing OK, so we must be alright.’ There’s always been a stigma around ‘mental’ health, and our history of institutions and finger pointing show this all to clearly.
Actually, we all need is a good ‘service’ and to have our bodies fluids topped up with good stuff and rehydrate. Just like our cars and central heating boilers. We know this and get them serviced regularly to save problems later on.
Effectively our bodies are a biological machine with an invisible driving force. The physical bit is relatively easy to keep healthy, it needs hydration, sleep and nutritious food for the most part and is quite happy to have the odd visit to the pub. We are happy to try diets and the like, on a regular basis and go to the gym…
However, the invisible bit also needs topping up and that’s the bit we are reluctant to ask for help with. We’d rather mask the problem with a short-term solution.
As a first step, maybe go outside, breath the air, go to a park, or the woods, spend time moving slowly and try to focus on what you can see, hear, smell or touch.
Not yesterday, or tomorrow.
Today. Moving and minding.
By the time you read this it’s likely the equinox will be over, but check out a dawn and a dusk on the same day, even if just for 10 minutes. Think about what you actually need, it’s probably a lot less than you think. It’s likely that even that thought will help. Have gratitude.
And ask for help, because if you actually need it, giving yourself some space will help you realise it. Having balance and therefore peace on the inside makes everything so much easier.
Simon Pollard. Countryman and Modern Day Pagan.