“You didn’t come into this world. You came out of it, like a wave from the ocean. You are not a stranger here.” – Alan Watts
I happened across this quote from Alan Watts recently and it stopped me in my tracks. What a simple way of revealing the odd belief that we often think of the world out there as being something separate from us, that it is a world we somehow came into, and will at some point leave. The imagery Alan evokes in my mind of being like a wave from the ocean feels so full of motion and peacefulness. To me it speaks of us as energy as well as matter, it recognises the truth that we are flying through the sky at a rate of knots on this planet of which we are a part, that we, and our concerns and experiences, are as transient as the waves that arise and fall away.
It’s so easy when experiencing mental health symptoms to feel isolated, to believe we are the only one that has felt what we feel, that we are alone with it, and that it will last forever. Sadly, our instinct can be to draw in, to not speak of our experience, and make these feelings seem ever more true as no-one can reach us, and no-one can understand what we do not reveal to them.
An important outcome of social contact, be that through our family and friends, group support, or psychotherapy, is to learn that we are not unique in experiencing the pain of mental distress. While each individual circumstance is different, we share deep patterns and rhythms, the river of human life flows through us, and we have so many common experiences and responses. You really are not alone. Others have come before, treading the painful path, and others will come afterwards.
Like waves on the ocean, experience ebbs and flows. What is intensely painful now may in the future be a distant memory, over-taken by the ever changing conditions of both life, and our bodymind. We can never know the future, but we do know that nothing stays the same, and all changes, in its own time and rhythm.
You are not a stranger here. You are a unique expression of life, of humanity, and you matter. Please don’t be alone with what you go through, reach out, and flow with the waves around you.