I do love Great Britain in many ways and for many reasons. I would like to mention though the profound and disheartening shift I noticed in the way my feet walked the streets and head sat on my shoulders in the couple of days after I landed home from trips to South Africa and the States. Obvious holiday elation aside and not ignoring that these places have their problems, there was a potent and highly contagious vibe of positivity and camaraderie in Kwazulu-Natal and the US WestCoast. Unfortunately the feelings faded fast and are something I feel the loss, or at least hibernation of, every day. If all this is sounding confident and clear headed, don’t let me fool you. For a long time, I was unable to act on this innate thirst for connection, learning and belonging. This is something all quite recent and by no means stable! After years of knackered, somnambulant conduct, sleepwalking my way
through activities, obligations, creativity and work as a result of malpractice and mistreatment of myself, I’ve found a sturdy wall – unknowingly and steadily built between myself and my lived experience over several years – now begin to fall, one pallet at a time. Once riddled with physical pain caused by stress, anxiety and mental isolation over several years, I’m terrified of the apathy and self-centredness that results from feeling so drained. Through knowing these feelings so deeply myself, I recognise the consequent negative and unproductive forces in many others, seeing potentially optimistic and focused dispositions folding and repressed beneath weights of work, politics, economics, ideology, greed and self-service, whether blatant or sneaky. As a result I’ve been able to gently re-engage my awareness beyond an all-consuming and hyper-focused situation and hope to reassure others of an escape from debilitating loneliness and silent despair.
Maybe mine is a blissfully unrealistic and unimaginable ideal but I’d be surprised to find many people whose eyes don’t twitch like mine did when reading the words, “we feel free because we lack the very language to express our unfreedom” (Slavoj Zizek, Welcome to the Desert of the Real). How about we find security in our identities through dabbling with diversity and empowerment through learning and teaching? Communication and collaboration is the antidote to desperation and impending desolation. You can’t swallow a pill to break down stubborn behaviours; it takes training of the mind and an openness to reach out, but I can say from several years and counting of near crippling selfconsciousness, distance and detachment in the attempt to settle in to myself sensitive to the hostility which drips through the veins of our society, it’s becoming well worth it.
Issue 15 of The Leeds Debacle