When I was a child, I was fascinated by stars. I mean, absolutely spell bound. Often I would stare out of my out of my window as a young boy and gaze into the sky. I had no idea about constellations, actually, I doubt I even knew what a constellation was! But I would always find myself gazing in awe. As time went on, I lost this fascination. One reason was no doubt moving to London, where roughly 99.99% of stars in the sky turn out to be the Virgin Atlantic flight to Miami or the Qantas jet making its way to Melbourne via Abu Dhabi. And slowly, the stars became less important to me. The joy they brought me as a child mattered no more. Life went on. Recently, I have fallen back in love with the stars. Last month I was able to point out the Big Dipper! At 22, I managed to identify my first constellation. And a thought descended upon me.
I am by no means old. Turning 23 but being surrounded by 18 and 19 year olds at university can make me feel that way from time to time! But truth is, I am still young. However, I am old enough for some things. Along with sex, driving (still learning) drinking (level:EXPERT) smoking, voting and clubbing, I am also old enough to forget the things I have done which made me happy. I am old enough convince myself that only certain measures of success count, and everything else is frivolous nonsense. I am old enough to think about all the things I feel I have failed at. All the things I should have done by now. I am old enough to be drowned out by the light of the world. Drowned out by the light of my thoughts. Through my journey discovering the workings of my own mind, I have discovered that I am by no means alone in being able to disregard my own achievements and abilities. I can deny myself pleasure for belief that I don’t deserve to feel positive in any way. And as I said, I am not alone in doing this. This, I have found, is one of the most difficult cycles to break. But I believe, if only for a day, this cycle can be broken, by simply turning it all off!
What do I mean? I mean turning off the belief that everything you do has to ‘matter’. That everything has to fit into some kind of grand plan. That the things that bring you enjoyment are not important. That is all wrong for one HUGE reason; NOTHING is more important than your own happiness. Over time, we all lose focus on the simple idea that our happiness is something that is of paramount importance in our lives. And coping with poor mental health makes that struggle much worse. But it is not impossible. Goals in life are important. They can give us drive, give us perspective, to some extent they can give us purpose. The lights of the world can allow us to see where we want to go in life. But they will not allow us to be what we need to be, and that is happy. For simple joys simply disappear, seemingly becoming irrelevant when placed with all the other pressures of life. But they are not. The stars I once loved so much will not feed me and pay to keep the heaters on in the winter. My poetry will not pay for the rest of my driving lessons. Going to see my beloved Arsenal won’t help me pass my degree (often it will directly hinder it, but that, my friends, is a whole different story!) I, like you, need the distractions of life to put life into a day to day context. But we all need to turn that off, for losing sight of the things that bring you the purest happiness is no price to pay.
I will leave this post with the work of Thierry Cohen. He took photos of cities around the world and showed what they would look like with all artificial lights turned off.
Turn off the lights of your world. For a moment, allow yourself to feel lost in the joys that speak to your heart and soul. Be free to place focus on the seemingly unimportant. Turn off the lights so you can see the beauty, so you can feel the importance of being happy. Turn off the lights so you can have…
a good day