Celebrity Deathmatch: Religion Vs Science Vs Life
We’re all idiots when it comes to depression. All of us. We either don’t understand it and react to it with phrases like “What do you have to be depressed about?” Or we think we understand it fully and say things like “I’ve beat it, I no longer suffer from depression, here’s how to sort it out.” Saying you’re free from depression is like saying you’re free from the laws of gravity. I could fill books with why that is the case but we’ll get back to that at some point. Today’s truth is: I have been the guy who didn’t understand what people had to be depressed about and I have been the guy who thinks he’s kicked depression’s ass. I’m still the guy who thinks he’s kicked depression’s ass… and then a relapse (for want of a better phrase) hits you and you realise you still have a lot to learn. My train of thought is all over the show so bear with me, indulge me, and I promise I will get to the point as soon as possible…
I had a deep philosophical discussion about balance, self control, temperance, and the meaning of true strength with a good friend recently. It was sparked off by my decision to remove alcohol from my life completely (I’m not a raging alcoholic – it’s just another part of my path at the minute) and an earlier chat we had about a book called “The Book Of Five Rings” by Miyamoto Musashi, who is by all accounts the epitome of the term “Warrior”. The book was written around 1645 and it is nothing short of a Warrior’s handbook, and for me it is right up there with Sun Tzu’s “The Art Of War”. Something from that conversation really stuck with me.
We both come from a strong Westernised Christianity background and we’ve both spent a lot of time studying other faiths, philosophies, and spiritual paths. We also both have an undying thirst for truth and reality – regardless of the cost, or the upset that truth and reality can often bring to a colonised mindset. So, anyway, my good buddy went on what I would call a Mild Spiritual Observation – as opposed to “a rant”. He told me how someone had said to him recently how they had been “fully delivered by The Lord from alcoholism.” My buddy’s response was an enlightened “Oh so you’re cool with having just one beer then, and you’re cool being around alcohol without feeling tempted to overindulge? Awesome.” The deliveree responded with “Oh no, absolutely not. I’m an alcoholic, I can’t drink alcohol at all!” to which my good buddy replied “Well you’re not delivered from anything then. Being delivered from alcohol would mean that you actually have mastery over alcohol.” As far as Sunday morning church conversation goes that might seem like a harsh response. It may even seem like my buddy was pissing on this other poor guy’s strawberries. That’s not the case. When Truth is important to you it’s difficult to let a false truth past your bullshit radar. Give me truth over fake encouragement or mindless, agreeing head nods any day of the week. I can also vouch that my buddy does not have a malicious bone in his body.
So, we sat and talked at length about how having true mastery over something means that it has zero control over you. An alcoholic who has true mastery over alcoholism can freely enjoy alcohol in moderation without any issues. A drug addict who has true mastery over drug addiction and drug use will have no triggers to fear and no environments to have to avoid to keep his or herself clean. Claiming true mastery over anything is a very bold claim and it should be challenged and examined at any opportunity – it demands to be challenged and examined at EVERY opportunity. When you bring in a higher entity like God, and throw about lines like “God has delivered me from …..” then you’re adding more weight to your claim and THAT is something that we all have a duty to explore and authenticate. It’s not about ridiculing someone’s beliefs – absolutely not; it’s not about negating someone’s intense positivity and happiness – absolutely not; it’s not about claiming any deeper knowledge, higher awareness, or further wisdom than the next guy… it’s about Truth. Nothing is more important than Truth. I’ve had many similar “The Lord has delivered me” conversations with people over the years and I try my best to discuss it fully and gently dissect the statement for no other reason than to test it’s validity. I have lost the plot (and lost my shit) on many occasions in these discussions but hey we’re all still learning right?
Simply put – the concept of a Higher Being is very precious to me and I don’t suffer fools gladly. There is no place for sentiment or fuzziness when it comes to the notion of a Higher Being. There is no place for someone to stand up in a church and tell how they have been delivered from an addiction while some poor sod is sitting struggling with his addiction on a daily basis, and is then thinking “Why didn’t God deliver me the way he delivered brother Ishmael? Does God not like me as much as he likes brother Ishmael?” It’s kinda paradoxical – Modernised Christianity, for me, has done less and less to prove the existence of a Higher Power while Science has presented discovery after discovery that actually goes further to proving that there is something out there. Science hasn’t been trying to prove God’s existence. Science (contrary to Modern Christian opinion) hasn’t been going out of it’s way to disprove God’s existence either. Science seeks only the Truth. I’m pretty sure any self respecting Scientist would love to discover something that proved the existence of a Higher Power. Who wouldn’t want to discover something so significant? Religion on the other hand seems to have a deep rooted fear that every scientific discovery is one step closer to removing God from the equation. It is an irrational fear and has no place in the mindset of someone who truly believes in everything they profess to believe in.
Francis Crick, one of the guys who discovered DNA is reported to have said that DNA coding is so complex that it could not have originated on this planet. A statement like that from a self confessed atheist earns him my utmost respect. Why? Because it’s an unguarded statement with no agenda. Now, the statement does open the doorway to the whole ‘Panspermia’ theory which again is something either totally interesting to you or totally ridiculous. None of it proves or disproves God for me. DNA coding being so complex does make me chuckle and does make me stand in awe at how we all run around like crazed lunatics trying to prove our theories and beliefs, all the while having this incredibly intricate operating system under the hood that holds more of the answers than we could possibly imagine. For me, the very fact that DNA has a code means there has to be some sort of code writer but that’s just me, and that’s just the way I think. My faith doesn’t hinge on it at all. Quantum Physics and String Theory blow my mind, and again make me smile at how little we obviously know and how little we can truly grasp. It goes some way to solidifying my belief that we’re all connected and that we all originate from one Source. Again, my belief doesn’t hinge on it nor will it change if String Theory turns out to be an invalid or redundant theory. I’m not gonna attempt to explain String Theory, Quantum Physics, or Quantum Entanglement in any way shape or form. It’s said that Albert Einstein went to his grave thinking that Quantum Entanglement was not real and was simply a bizarre calculation of the Universe’s workings… and he was one of the three scientists who discovered it. That’s enough for me to respectfully step back from even attempting to break it down for anyone who’s never heard of the theory. I like dropping it in as it makes me seem intelligent and well learned. Oh look, there’s my first touch of self deprecating humour in this blog. That naturally occuring line of self deprecating humour is as welcome as sunshine in the morning. That little line is my inner system telling me I’m starting to come back. You see I had a little breakdown this morning. I had a relapse. The relapse has been clawing at my horizon for a few weeks now and this morning it came to a head and resulted in me breaking down in tears…
Why am I talking about Science & Religion? Well to me it’s the perfect support act to warm up the audience before talking about depression. I’m the guy who thinks he’s whipped the ass of depression and who is impervious to it’s cruel afflictions. I set up this Blog to reach out and help people who suffer the same struggles and who could maybe benefit from the little things (and big things) I have changed in my life to combat it successfully. The truth is I have a duty of care to be as raw and honest as I possibly can. If I paint a picture of total deliverance with zero failure rate I run the risk of alienating (at best) anyone who’s struggling to keep their shit together and I run the risk of providing a detrimental service (at worst) to someone who can’t seem to manifest the idyllic lifestyle I’m portraying. In short I become the sentimental Modern Christian who makes empty professions of fuzziness without testing the purity of the gold.
My relapse? I want to blame Coco Pops (we’ll get to that). I want to blame exhaustion. I want to blame a hectic schedule of renovating our new home. I want to blame not yet having my little organised sanctuary/studio workspace ready for me to get my creative backlog of work completed. I want to blame possible repressed feelings of rage after dealing with a horrifying eighteen months of flying bullets that included a stalker, a death threat, moving house twice, and that crescendoed with a burglary in broad daylight that resulted in our door being kicked in and all my wife’s jewellery stolen – including her engagement ring and wedding ring. I sold three guitars just to get the deposit for that engagement ring. One of them was a John Mayer signature Stratocaster *insert heart-eyed drooly emoji* that I let go for a ridiculous price and it was one of the best guitars I have ever laid hands on. If I’d kept it the burglars would never have stolen it as it would have been too ballsy a move to walk out of a city centre apartment building with it under their arms during rush hour traffic – too ballsy a move even for guys who stared at the security camera as boldly and unconcerned as a bird on a wire. Come to think of it if I’d never been stupid enough to try marriage for the second time I’d probably be lighting my new multi fuel stove with expensive guitars. Another wee touch of humour? Good, that means I’m getting closer to my old new self.
My relapse started with speed (not the pharmaceutical amphetamine) and a sense of impatience. I noticed my driving becoming a tad erratic and I noticed myself driving at 80mph along the stretch of motorway that I would normally sit comfortably at 60mph. One of the first exercises I would recommend to any depression sufferer would be to slow down everything in their life starting with their driving. It’s impossible to be happy if you’re in a hurry. It is an absolute physical and spiritual impossibility. Go on, try it. Think of a time when you were ever in a hurry and were able to simultaneously maintain a true feeling of happiness. You can’t think of one can you? Sure you could throw the analogy of a Formula One racing driver who flys round the track at 200mph – surely he’s happy? Surely he’s living his dream and he’s happy right? Yeah, absolutely, if he’s living his dream and truly fulfilling his Dharma then he’s gonna be happy doing it. Here’s the rub – a Formula One driver flying about the racetrack at 200mph is never in a hurry. He’s controlled, calculated, and in a mindset of sheer focus. He’s trained to function like a well oiled machine in exactly the same way that his vehicle has been serviced to run like a well oiled machine. He ain’t ever in a hurry. If he is then he needs to rethink his career choice.
After Speed came some mild temper outbursts. Then came my need to have everything ‘just how I like it’ all the time and then came throwing a hissy fit when things didn’t go my way. Then came sensitivity – being offended at things when I know full well that taking offence at anything is the biggest waste of energy imaginable. Next up was a loss of focus. Rather than sticking to my “Now, we focus on one room at a time, honey, and once we finish that room to my impossibly high standard we can then move onto the next room.” rule I was half painting one room and then getting distracted when I took a toilet break – “hmmm, I could strip this wallpaper while I’m sitting here…” Focus and discipline is another weapon of mass destruction that levels the playing field of depression. Once the focus and discipline went I found myself slipping back to an unhealthy diet – that’s where the Coco Pops come in. I have a Youtube Channel along with a good buddy of mine and we decided to celebrate passing 1,000,000 views and 2,000 subscribers by filming a hilarious food challenge. 2,000 subscribers? Why don’t we eat 2,000 grams of Coco Pops? It was like my wise enlightened self had went on holidays and my evil idiot self decided to throw a crazy house party. I managed 510 grams of Coco Pops and almost threw up everywhere. The next morning I was dealing with an insulin crash of epic proportions – which led me on a sugary food rampage… which carried on long enough to disrupt my mood. Once you start riding the insulin rollercoaster it can be difficult to get back onto solid ground. I found myself waking up in the middle of the night and raiding the fridge like Yogi Bear with a case of the munchies. Sounds ridiculous? If I hadn’t already experienced the revelation and joy of healthy eating for a healthy mind I’d agree with you. The problem is I have experienced that revelation and joy. The problem is that all of the above little relapses and slips are old parts of me that used to be my daily life. The problem is that I made simple changes that eradicated the aforementioned craziness from my life. The problem is I got too big for my boots and thought I was the king of everything who didn’t need to make a sustained, disciplined effort. That is where my relapse came from. A deviation from discipline and focus. A refusal to take my foot off the gas and take some much needed respite. A refusal to walk barefoot in a forest and ground myself. A refusal to meditate. A refusal to pay attention to the small voice of reason which I could hear clearly even though it was hidden in a cacophony of maraca accompanied “I am evil Rossy! I am evil Rossy!” (Simpsons fans will get that reference. If you’re not a Simpsons fan what on earth is wrong with you?)
In short I receded from all the good habits I had learned (or thought I had learned) and receded from the path that I thought my feet were firmly glued to.
My best attempt at illustrating this is to use my dear old friend Bruce Banner. Bruce is a mild mannered, calm, patient man who never loses his cool. But when Bruce is pushed a tad too far he loses possession of the steering wheel and out comes The Incredible Hulk to take charge. Throughout the course of my life I have had to work with a brutal temper and have had to try and keep it at bay on a daily basis. When I started to figure out and combat depression I often had to let Hulk out of his cage to take over. When things get so dark and push on a little too far I have always had to utilise aggression and temper to get through it. It was the only way I knew how to deal with it for a long time. The big downside to letting Hulk out of the cage is that it’s pretty hard to get the big guy calmed down and locked up again when you’re ready to take back the steering wheel. When I start to lash out at those closest to me I know it’s time for Betty to come touch my hand and sing me to sleep. Then you gotta wake up and deal with the carnage and havoc that you were responsible for. I lashed out at friends and family last week in ways that utterly betrayed every one of the philosophies and spiritual practices I cling to. Now, it wasn’t anything major by anyone’s standards – we’re always our own worst critic and our own harshest judge – but the fact is I still chose to ignore the simplest little voices of reason and didn’t make the passing grade on a test that I should have aced with flying colours.
Being whole is a daily routine of whole habits. It is a daily routine of whole foods. It is a daily routine of whole philosophy and spirituality – not just the parts that tickle your fancy on that particular day. It is a daily routine of watchfulness and mindfulness. Falling down and slipping up is no big deal by the way. The remedy and cure for falling down is simply getting back up again.
Are people who write Spiritual, Self Help Blogs always happy and always in a state of zen? F**k no! Letting off steam and losing control of the big Greeny is something we all deal with. The key is to be able to return to Bruce Banner as quickly as possible before the damage becomes irreparable and the return becomes almost impossible. The one thing I seem to fully grasp is the Return To Love. I’m the quickest apologiser on two feet. I’m the quickest guy on the planet to own my shit and try to make it right. I can’t seem to be the unrealistic image of perfection that I often push myself to become but I can Return To Love very quickly every time I have a relapse. So that will be my mantra and my goal.
The hilarious part of all of this is that a paranoid schizophrenic stalker, a death threat, and a pair of burglars provoked less of a reaction from me last year than the reaction provoked by a few of my best friends picking me up wrong on a group message this week and the reaction provoked by my poor wife for leaving my Nutri Ninja caked in pureed peas this morning. I handle the big dark scary shit like a boss. I sat and meditated and sent the entire cast of the darker chapters of 2017 love on a daily basis. I had no choice – if I had let old Greeny out of the cage in those scenarios I would never have been able to come back from the carnage. But then I lose my shit over some silly stuff… and that reminds me to keep my eye on the ball. It also reminds me to laugh at the irony, laugh at the paradox, and laugh at everything.
We’ll leave it here for now. Thank you for taking the time to shoot the breeze with me and I hope that something in here either made you laugh, think, cry, or spit your coffee over your computer screen. I hope that something here has maybe inspired someone else to keep on keeping on. Thank You…
I hope I in no way came across as a Religion Basher or Church Basher in any way, shape or form. I am Jesus’s No.1 Fan and the Church was one of the most important parts of my journey to becoming who I am now. I believe the whole “made in God’s image” concept and can’t help noticing the “God made in man’s image” concept that seems to thrive in most of the organised religions of our current time. That just frustrates me sometimes… a lot of the time…
PS: I gave this Blog a Part One tagline. I hope it’s a long time before I have to write “Part Two Of Me Losing My Shit”… but if and when it happens I will write it…
As Colombo would say: One last thing sir…Talk to someone. Share with someone. My world always gets better and my relapse always ends when I tell someone that I’ve lost my way a bit. It’s usually my wife, my Betty, who touches my hand, speaks soothing words to me, then hugs me and laughs with me and makes me happy with the world again. Talk to someone before things get too far… My wee Betty has just got her new engagement ring after months of “feeling naked and unmarried”… maybe that’s why the pot started stirring inside. The Truth is I got to be engaged again to the most beautiful girl in the world and she got to pick another engagement ring that she can show off. What girl doesn’t like getting new jewellery, regardless of the circumstances? That new ring will always remind her of how we pulled through a shitstorm and still came out on top. To the guys who stole the last one I’d like to say: Thank You, Bless You, & Much Love From Both Of Us To Both Of You. You made us stronger and you made us realise how blessed we are. May you find the peace you are looking for. Genuinely and from the bottom of my heart. If not for you we might never have realised how bulletproof we are. You can’t call a boat a ship ‘till it’s handled a few storms…