• Simon

Sanity in Hearing Voices

Updated: Apr 23

The whole week I felt on edge. There was an extreme diversity of events making me move between contrasting moods and emotions, like wading through differently heated pools of water or jumping in a hole of ice while you're still steaming hot after having sat in the sauna for 30 min (which everyone should try at least once in their lifetime). The thing is, all those shifts need some time to even out the waves, to regain a regular heart beat again. But that seemed hard to come by.

Then I remembered what I so easily forget, when I need it most of all. Night walks are a great antidote for a babbling mind. Sometimes I have all those thoughts like messenger doves stringed to a bundle in my hands and I don't want to let them go, because I am afraid they won't return.

But if my thoughts, which they dutifully carry away, are truthful, they will inspire replies and guarantee safe return with a new, kinder perspective. And this courage, this trust, is what observation can provide. Observation of something that we are not invested in with our important lives, something like nature and the dimensions of life in our backyard, the park or the forest. Nature has its own dynamics that go on whether you appreciate them or not. And that's just so wonderfully liberating to realise.

So here I am, 2 am, striving through the old dunes, harvesting the cool dew from dark soft heather, caught up in a quest to find the origins of the mysterious bird call splashing over the wavy landscape. I left my glasses at home, leaving my sight diminished while my hearing, smelling and tactile sensing were heightening. At first I thought it might be a young bird having fallen from the nest, sounding so erratic, but when I came slowly closer I saw a dim bright shape in the pines, which must have been some predatory bird marking territory by sending its sharp cries in all directions. The sound felt piercing, when it faced me, but my weak eyes couldn't make out much, even standing only a few meters away. Fine by me, since all the other sensory input was overwhelmingly fascinating and informative. Probably I would have moved much more carelessly with my glasses on and had missed half of the other cues of the environment and eventually scared of the bird, whose home I was invading.

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In Canada I learned that the native people in their tribal languages don't have a concept or word for nature , as we do, since, up until the "civilised" ways were forced upon them, they haven't perceived themselves as being separated from the natural world... Something to contemplate...

There is a sense of return, a kindling of homesickness, in deeply engaging with nature, when having grown up within four walls. A joyous sadness, or melancholy joy? I love how I can hang on to these eternal natural structures, the way I feel recognised, unconditionally, like nowhere else, when being outside and just paying attention to this presence. The late Irish poet John O'Donohue thought of if it so wonderfully in his poem 'For the Traveller':

[...]

New places that have never seen you Will startle a little at your entry. Old places that know you well Will pretend nothing Changed since your last visit.

[...]

How can you not love Earth?

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On the way back home, when the horizon was beginning to make way for the return of sun, I heard the cries of the unidentified bird for a long time. The damp night air let them stream around all obstacles and only faded when I entered another Sharawadji, introduced by the gentle blow that triggered the smooth rippling of drops through the foliage of the otherwise still trees along the dark country lane, left to rest after the recent rains.