Impenetrability, part 4: What If?
Trip Start Jun 10, 2008
16Trip End Ongoing
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And what if, in your sleep, you dream?
And what if, in your dream, you go to heaven and there pluck a strange and beautiful flower?
And what if, when you awake, you have the flower in your hand?
Ah, what then?
When I studied psychology and treated people, I learned that a lot of mental health issues are rooted in some kind of self-feeding circle. That is because a lot of problems stem from distorted thought patterns, which in turn lead one to behave in a way that is likely to give the results which will then further fuel the same distorted thoughts. A good trick that can sometimes break this circle, at least momentarily, is the 'what if' trick - ok, so you see things like this and thus it makes sense to behave like that, but what if you thought differently? Can a different way of regarding this situation be conceived? How would you behave then? Could you try it as an experiment? - and of course different behaviour leads to different feedback, which can be enough to break the circle.
Another thing that can keep people locked in the same place is not seeing the full way out. Sometimes breaking the way in small steps solves things, as taking one step may reveal the next. If it seems impossible to wake up holding a heavenly flower, can one dream of picking it up? Or can one dream of heaven? Or can one dream at all? Or at least go to sleep?
And then it might be frightening too to solve a problem. People can adapt to anything, they will learn how to deal with their instabilities, because they have no choice, life doesn't stop for them to get better. So they get used to the way they are, and know they can live with that. But what then if one day you find a heavenly flower in your hand? Will you know how to care for it? Will it die and then force you to go back to your previous condition, after you were already adapting to the new one? Is a heavenly flower really worth the responsibility it brings?
And what is health, anyway? How is it defined? Maybe you take some point in your life when you thought things were well and take it for the standard, then defining future situations by comparison to it. But let's assume a person who has never actually been healthy, what standard will she adopt? Will she understand health through comparison with other people's lives? Will she then be fooled by other people trying to look and sound healthier because they don't want to appear frail? Will she ever be able to understand that health can not be absolute? Or will he grow hopes upon getting better, just to despair again at the smallest fall? Will he learn to recognize a heavenly flower? How will she know when she has one in her hands?
The reason I lost my job is because my boss would spend one month in a rehabilitation center and it was the government, not her, who paid me. And of course the government refuses to pay her to get a personal assistant when she is in a clinic where, supposedly, there are plenty of people to take care of her already. But all the same she said she would like to have some additional help there, as she said the nurses were usually very busy and thus on her free time (when she was not in some apparatus for the upkeep of her muscles and bones) she was left with nothing to do, or else with plenty of things she wanted to do but no way to do them. So she had mentioned the idea of bringing me there for some time.
But at first I didn't want to. The clinic was pretty isolated, in the middle of the woods, how would I look for a job from there? And what would I do in the middle of nowhere when I was already feeling lonely in the city? It sounded a bit like going to exhile, plus I wouldn't even get a proper salary. But then, after crashing down, the idea of some sort of exhile started to seem appealing as a good opportunity to put my head back in its proper place, so when she called and offered for me to go and spend two weeks there helping her, that she would pay for my trip, for my accomodation, for my food and throw in some extra if possible, I took the offer. So I prepared myself for boredom in the woods, by getting me a load of books I couldn't possibly go through in that time - The Shock Doctrine, by Naomi Klein (highly recommended, it had been a very long time since I felt anything happening in the world made remote sense); War and Peace, by Lev Tolstoy (good to pass time, but too big for its own good); and a finally found, unabridged and untranslated copy of Tthe Canterbury Tales, by Geoffrey Chaucer (delightful English!).
I am really glad I chose to go. First of all, after having worked for Anita for one full month, I came to a point where helping her didn't actually feel like working anymore, I was most of the time just having fun. Second, even though I was alone most of the time when I wasn't 'working', I didn't feel lonely at all. I mean, it is cruel to be alone in the city, when you are all the time surrounded by people whom you can't really talk to, or who just don't notice and don't care about you at all, but to be alone in the middle of the woods, surrounded by pines and lakes, feels just right. And Punkaharju is considered one of the most beautiful places in Finland, with its thin wooded ridges squeezing their way between huge lakes. When you are there, walking alone in the cold weather, it feels like you get filled inside by the landscape, then the horizons expand and drive all the sorrow away - there just remains no space left for sadness, or for anything different from just a simple, deep feeling of existence. You can't really feel lonely when everything outside seems to reflect yourself. If there is to be any definable reason why I love Finland, then it must be because here I find these overwhelmingly peaceful moments, when everything seems superfluous - even myself, ecxept as a tiny part of the scenery.
In the end, I was able to piece myself back together, and I did send a lot of job applications for random work. Loading trucks, serving coffee, cleaning stairwells, washing dishes, cleaning and cooking in a family house, watching over bilingual schoolchildren, anything I felt I could do. Let's wait and see if there comes any answer.