Some things in life are those immutable, immovable & unchanging items which keep us centered and tied down to the ground beneath our feet. These are needed and necessary for the connection that binds us to the land and to each other. Yet thinking about this recently made me realise that actually nothing is totally unmovable. Things are never stable and if you break them up or disrupt them then changes take place which can be creative, unsettling, exciting and scary all at the same time. Even the horizon of our outlook changes on a day to day basis. So, far from being this utterly flat, distant and stable line, it actually moves in on us and we narrow our vision as needed – emotionally, physically, spiritually & mentally.
There are now days for me when the horizon pulls back to more or less the position it was in before my mental health adventures. A distant thing, beckoning me forward towards exploration and a journey into the future (picture the sea horizon on a fine day – perfectly flat and distinguishing itself from the sky in an unwavering grey delineation of colour). This hints of land beyond the viewed field and the possibilities of travel/adventure. Plans can be made and the world seems an exciting and wide place. That’s where I am most of the time at the moment. Yet I am not fooled. The complacency I once lived with, that this was how the world actually is, has been shaken by the fact that I know the line of the horizon shrinks when we need it to.
We’ve all experienced this at times in our lives. The here and now crowds in and we are unable (or unwilling) to submit to the pressures of the wider world and we shrink our line of sight to allow repair/safety/realignment. It’s a necessary part of healing/coping. It certainly affected me – in relationships, my family unit withdrew into itself as a protection. -Spiritually, faith was just too BIG a concept to be easily contained. I was unable to even have a sense of self let alone a sense of anything OTHER. – Time seemed an bit of an alien concept and the idea of future was nonexistent. All my energy and focus was on the present and the ‘right now’, almost as if I was in a bubble of my own dimension. Everything else seemed so fast and I felt so slow. – Creative ideas were completely anathema, not even a concept I could address. It was like my mouth had been glued shut and the words in my head were jumbles up into a thousand pieces. Even a single sentence was an effort akin to a jigsaw puzzle.
I see it now for a safety mechanism. Our perception of boundaries and the other changes to keep us safe and to only let us deal with stuff that we can actually handle. Yet sometimes we can get stuck there. That was my biggest fear I think. Suddenly finding myself unable to push the horizon back and have a world to explore again. Was it always going to be the small space for me? Would my family and those close to me get tired of the boundaries and walk away? Those were scary thoughts. Yet I think my fears were somewhat unfounded. Nature has a way of pushing through the concrete and the flowers of hope are not as delicate as we may think. The horizon has indeed shifted, but at least now I recognise it as a movable feast, an artificial aid to help us cope and to give us hope!
It’s been an utterly hectic start to 2014 in so many ways. Cornwall has seen some of the worst storms in memory – with great chunk of the coastline and seafront simply vanishing under the pounding surf. The scars will be felt for some time I think. It’s meant that an strange feeling has crept in for those of us lucky enough to live here – a real ‘batten down the hatches and wait it out’ mentality. My heart goes out to all our friends and colleagues who have been hit worse than we have, with businesses & homes affected. Surely this is a good time for us to show the best side of the human race in how we direct our love and compassion to those around us. After each event (and last night was one of the BAD ones) – there’s a sense of a community checking itself then gritting it’s teeth to move on… – there’s a mental health metaphor in there, but you can grab it for yourselves!
On a personal level for me, it’s been a time of getting used to the stresses of working again (to be honest my job is great – it’s just trying to fit everything in around a set routine again). Dealing with the frustration of needing a couple of extra hours in a day and trying to ease my head into old patterns without it buckling, has been harder than I thought. Yet apart from a few small moments of shaking hands and the pressure in my forehead, a sure sign that I need to stop NOW!, it’s been fine. It actually feels normal again and I am taking that small victory and running a flag up as a marker. It certainly feels nice to be able to contribute to supporting my family again. Even being faced with the news that my 6 month contract probably wont be renewed because of budget cuts hasn’t really sent me reeling. I sensed the provision of the job and it’s been perfect timing – so lets see what the rest of the year will bring.
FGEq’s world has been busy – our mini tour to payback our wonderful support was brilliant. Lots of affirming stories, conversations and of course some great time spent with some of my best friends in the whole world. Getting to play 3 nights on the trot with Sid & Jez was so cool – we tightened up and I think we played some of the best gigs we’ve ever done. If you came to see us – thank you… if you didn’t – then come and see us next time!! We are a bit gutted that Hudson couldn’t join us. He’s made such a difference to the dynamic of the band and it’s been great getting to know him and have him become part of our collective. We shot a video (released soon) and it was great to have support from our good friend Dan Donovan who we haven’t seen for yonks. As usual Steve O was a star (he’s is like another member of our tribe – always ready with a grin and an unusual but vital piece of equipment pulled from a case somewhere) & Jo Burfoot made the mammoth drive home overnight on the Sunday (I bow in humble admiration). So it’s now a case of looking forward to the rest of this year. If you want us to play near you let me know – we’d love to get out on the road again – and we’re busy getting gigs sorted for the spring and summer now. See you all real soon!
Photo (c) Dan Donovan
The second gig on our jaunt is in:
Woking – Jigsaw@ The Lighthouse
again from 7.30pm. We are raising money for the New Life House Drug Rehab Centre in Laos (a project that is very dear to us!) – Please come and support this gig. Details can be found here:
or Tickets can be purchased here:
We’re playing our first shows out of the South West in January… The first one is in:
Ipswich @ The Manor Ballroom
From 7.30pm more details can be found here:
The gig is totally free, but we will be raising money for Suffolk MIND.
So here we are then 2014 is upon us. We hope you had a good one and we can’t wait to get started on the coming year. 2013 was amazing for us – a roller coaster of getting the album released (we are so pleased with it!) and gigging, culminating in debuting our new line up just before Christmas. We’ve got lots of plans for 2014 – some of which we will be announcing over the next few days, and some of which we are trying to make happen. But it will just be nice to play to as many of you as possible and let you hear some of our new tunes. See you soon :-)
Really looking forward to playing the Newquay BID Music & Ale Festival tomorrow – Friday 20th December – We’re on at about 6.15-6.30pm. So why not come down after work for a drink or two and we can entertain you! It’s free to get in and it’s kid friendly too… it’s a win win situation… We are also pleased to have our good friend and newest FGEqer Hudson Swan making his debut on fiddle. See you there!
Today I am tired and a little grumpy (lack of sleep, despite meds, and feeling a bit under the weather generally), so in the spirit of honesty please read the following in the light of this – my usual measured tone may slip a little and I will probably end up regretting the inflection of certain sentences – but I am still going to try and write something vaguely meaningful.
I listened to a talk by a Christian theologian this week (I can hear the thud of the door as many people run a mile here)(stick with me – it’s not one of ‘those’ posts I promise). Something he said struck a chord with me and I have been rolling it around over the last little while trying to work out what I think… It doesn’t just apply to people of faith either – it seems to reflect something of the culture of the world at the present time. It was a statement to the effect of: “Often we judge how deeply we hold our values (faith based or just moral) based on how indignant and offended we are at others who do not hold the same systems” – just let that penetrate a moment…. there’s a lot in a single sentence!
I immediately felt a twinge of guilt, smiled a wry knowing smile, and had a eureka light bulb moment all at the same time. This was not easy as I was up a ladder at the time with a pot of paint in my hand. So I descended and wound back and listened again! Suddenly I realised what under some circumstances makes me squirm about church, seem uber-liberal to some and things I have been guilty of myself. The thought has stayed with me so I decided to see what everyone else thinks!
Do I get a sense of scale and depth when it comes to knowing what I care about/believe/hold to be true by simply how much I am outraged or offended by others who don’t share my beliefs? Is that pride? is that insane? Where does it stem from? and more to the point what can I do to counteract that mechanism? – too many questions and it makes my brain hurt. Looking around in the light of this statement – I can see it everywhere… anti-capitalism is shown to be felt deeply by people acting violently against large corporations (or by simply being outraged at the unfair inequality). The Christian/Muslim divide is fueled by the incensed outrage of people who are blaspheming. The homophobia is deemed necessary by way of the disgust felt at ‘unnatural’ acts. The feminist/chauvinist agenda is driven by the outrage at things not being ‘biblical’ and the wrong people having authority. I can tell what I believe in by how I ‘FEEL’…… wrong!
One thing I have learned over the last 3 years is that how I ‘feel’ about something is a particularly unreliable method of discerning what is actually ‘IMPORTANT’. My feelings change on a day to day basis – sometimes I honestly can’t be arsed to feel anything about a subject that I hold dear, and other days I’d quite happily rip someone to shreds for disagreeing with me… the point is that it changes. We learn, we accept new ideas and we grow. How can I grow if I get the security of my beliefs from how outraged I feel about things? What happened to ‘deep calls to deep’ (sorry a biblical phrase – you know the stuff in your bones type deep) beliefs that just are… They don’t need to be affirmed by outrage, they are just what I hold to be true. That way we don’t hold them sacred – we learn and we journey, things can then become nuanced and that’s OK.
Last word – please don’t get me wrong – I am not saying that some injustice and evil shouldn’t make me angry (I am not suggesting that I don’t personally get annoyed at inequality, fundamentalism, belligerence and hatred of others). Those things do wind me up!! But the problem comes when I measure what I believe by how much those things outrage me… actually that’s not important. The thing that’s important is knowing why I don’t like those things and using that to spur me on to instigate change. Otherwise we all get caught up in the game of who can his the offense button the hardest and ring the bell at the top of the indignation-o-meter.
Hi everyone – we really need a bit of a hand on this one please. We’ve made it through to the last 15 acts in a competition to get a slot at Bearded Theory Festival in 2014. We need votes to win, so please would you take 20 seconds to click on the link and vote for The Freedom/Guilt Equation… we’ll give you a big kiss next time we see you if you do!