Yes, another year has ticked away and, as is my habit, I look at what has changed and what remains the same.
I feel the same as I did as a younger man but I don’t look it. My wife tells me I look distinguished and I appreciate her for that. I think I look like some adult and I am not yet ready to see myself as that!
I maybe older but wiser?
A lot of things have happened since I was born – some good and some not so good.
The world outside is still warring with itself in the time honoured way of old savage tribes but I don’t believe that represents all that humanity is – it represents what happens when we trade out autonomy for inclusion in the herd. And, like now, when times are more daunting, we seek the security of the herd regardless of the cost.
As the years go by I find that I am less inclined to do that. Not because I am becoming more noble! I just cannot rationalise the harm we do each other anymore. We are better than we behave – I have to believe that!
So, for my birthday, my wish is that we all take a few moments today to reflect. Shut out all the noise and buzz and the yammering of the world and spend a few moments inside of yourself. Stop and look at where we are going and the cost of progresses and ambitions.
Life is a grand thing – all in all. Sweet and bitter, it is not about where you are going and how fast you can get there. I think it is about all of the great people you get to meet along the way. All the laughing and sharing of that which we all have inside of us.
I will spend the day with the little people in my head and, if I don’t waste the day, I will be closer to bringing their story out into the world.
That, I have decided, is the best thing I can do for you and me.
To St. George’s Hill,
A ragged band they called the Diggers
Came to show the people’s will
They defied the landlords
They defied the laws
They were the dispossessed reclaiming what was theirs
We come in peace they said
To dig and sow
We come to work the lands in common
And to make the waste ground grow
This earth divided
We will make whole
So it will be
A common treasury for all
The sin of property
We do disdain
No man has any right to buy and sell
The earth for private gain
By theft and murder
They took the land
Now everywhere the walls
Spring up at their command
They make the laws
To chain us well
The clergy dazzle us with heaven
Or they damn us into hell
We will not worship
The God they serve
The God of greed who feed the rich
While poor folk starve
We work we eat together
We need no swords
We will not bow to the masters
Or pay rent to the lords
Still we are free
Though we are poor
You Diggers all stand up for glory
Stand up now
From the men of property
The orders came
They sent the hired men and troopers
To wipe out the Diggers’ claim
Tear down their cottages
Destroy their corn
They were dispersed
But still the vision lingers on
You poor take courage
You rich take care
This earth was made a common treasury
For everyone to share
All things in common
All people one
We come in peace
The orders came to cut them down
Having danced with my own host of Demons I put together the following to celebrate a few truths about this subject. And for those who might resent the use of the word ‘madness’ – get over it! I think it is better to be ‘mad’ than to conform to the ‘sanity’ around us.
"Sanity remains defined simply by the ability to cope with insane conditions." Ana Castillo
"Mental illness is nothing to be ashamed of, but stigma and bias shame us all." Bill Clinton
"But you learn to smother the living breathing soul, go deaf to it, and this violence to the self is what is commonly called sanity in the places where I have lived." –Philip Ó Ceallaigh, Walking to the Danube
"We are all born mad. Some remain so." –Samuel Beckett, Waiting for Godot
"I am not mad; I would to heaven I were! For then, ’tis like I should forget myself; O, if I could, what grief should I forget!" –William Shakespeare, The Life and Death of King John
"A man who is 'of sound mind' is one who keeps the inner madman under lock and key." –Paul Valéry, Mauvaises pensées et autres
"And of course you are mad, if by a madman we mean a mind that questions and rejects every civilized norm." –Stephen Fry, Revenge
“But I don’t want to go among mad people,” Alice remarked.
“Oh, you can’t help that,” said the Cat. “We’re all mad here. I’m mad. You’re mad.”
“How do you know I’m mad?” said Alice.
“You must be,” said the Cat. “or you wouldn’t have come here.” –Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland
"Insanity—a perfectly rational adjustment to an insane world." –RD Laing
"Insane people are always sure that they are fine. It is only the sane people who are willing to admit that they are crazy." –Nora Ephron
"I suppose that the human mind can only stand so much grief and anguish. After that the fuses blow." –Fynn, Mister God, This is Anna
"Show me a sane man and I will cure him for you." –Carl Jung
"Our society is run by insane people for insane objectives. … I think we’re being run by maniacs for maniacal ends … and I think I’m liable to be put away as insane for expressing that. That’s what’s insane about it." –John Lennon
"What sane person could live in this world and not be crazy?" –Ursula K. LeGuin
"The question is: what is a sane man to do in an insane society?" –Joseph Heller, Catch-22
"Sanity is a cozy lie." –Susan Sontag
"Insanity in individuals is something rare, but in groups, parties, nations, and epochs, it is the rule." –Friedrich Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil
Think about it. Talk about it. Celebrate it. But don't suffer it alone!