Lesson learnt

I told the Plain Jack story today and told the parents that the story was for the children and it was up to them to work out the lesson. It might sound patronising when written down, but when I’m dressed in character and talking with families I am able to meet everyone with an absolutely unguarded eye to make a connection based on absolute equality. I’m aiming to invite the adults to listen with consideration and not just switch off and daydream while their children are being entertained.

I have seen many children’s entertainers and they often appeal to children’s need to join together with laughter and get giggly and excited and make jokes for the adults at the children’s expense with the children’s innocence protecting them from getting the joke and being hurt. I think that’s a cheap way to get a laugh and though it does seem to work from the outside – adults see children enjoying themselves and have a laugh too, it is shallow, pointless and quickly forgotten.

I used to find it hard performing to children and adults and I could only look at the children in the eye, I was a bit frightened of being judged I suppose. I think I thought that most adults understand and know more than me, so while I can meet a child’s eye with equality I am on my guard with adults. I’m not comfortable with making a joke out of the children, so I have found a different and dare I say (yes, I dare!) better way. I find it easier to hide behind a costume that exaggerates my features for little eyes and allows adults to accept me as a daft looking character instead of feeling threatened by me being a know all.

I know that deep in our hearts we are all children and if I am kind and make it clear that I won’t embarrass anyone I can get the adults united with their children to listen on an equal basis. That’s when the real magic happens. I do involve the adults, but I’ve found a way to do it that allows them to enjoy doing whatever I get them to do and feel proud of their efforts rather than feeling too proud to condescend themselves. Does that make sense?

So today’s moment of magic was in the first group telling the Plain Jack story and saying the last bit about the 2 horses, one with a great talent who didn’t use it and the one with a little talent who used it all. I almost got emotional, I may have even gulped – I could really feel the empathy energy flowing out from the listeners as they all obviously felt themselves to be like Plain Jack and proud of his lifetime of trying hard.

In the second session there were 2 men at the back who were listening so hard and openly it was truly beautiful. The sessions were free to the locality which is quite deprived. I felt as if they got the story, not just for themselves now, but also remembering how they must have been told such stories as a child and how that made them feel then and also feeling for their own children being told to be glad of their humble backgrounds as then all their achievements will be down to their own efforts.

That’s what all the best stories do, they reward goodness, effort and standing up for the oppressed and frown upon pride, anger, following the herd. We are all equal at the end of the day, we all have our own learning journeys to go on and we will make mistakes along the way, but it is what we learn from our failures that makes us the ultimate human we have it within us to be.

I continue to enjoy learning how to be better through my life and I am grateful for my upbringing and the path I have taken that I have the opportunity to feel that wonderful life changing empathy on an almost daily basis. Either in helping my daughters enjoy applying their knowledge, moments of group anticipation – I lead singing at playgroup and we sing this sleeping bunnies song and I can usually manage a moment of absolute silent anticipation while all the children wait to… WAKE UP BUNNIES!!! and hop about, and then in moments from when I’m storytelling and I can feel the audience have gone on a little journey with me and allowed their minds to be opened just a little bit.

From the outside I might appear to be a crazy lady entertaining kids as I can’t get a proper job, but on the inside I am deeply thoughtful about the change I hope to make to people’s perception of themselves which is the most rewarding reward I could ever imagine. I do believe there is only one right way to be, and I know that thought is controversial, but there truly is only one path for all of us. We can only follow our true, selfless empathetic path by always making decisions that factor in the consequences of our actions for everyone else and amending our actions if they hurt anyone. Modern society is geared up to value extrinsic reward, so we are encouraged to believe that any path we choose is right as that is our choice and we know best for us, but if we value our needs to be greater than the needs of others and we value money and status over empathy/unconditional love we will find ourselves on a path alright, but it might not be the best path to make us a better, more understanding empathetic being. It’s never too late to get back on the right path, not to please anyone else or win approval, just for yourself. If life is a competition (I don’t think it is, I think it’s a game you only win by sticking to the rules) then believing we are in competition with anyone but ourselves is a delusion.

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Tomorrow’s story – purely fictional, but it contains truth.

Plain Jack

 

Once there were 2 old mares in a field together, they each had a foal.

 

One mare had won a lot of races and thought a lot of herself. She spoilt her foal dreadfully, she told him how clever he was and how he would win a lot of races when he was older if he could get a jockey good enough for him. He was very valuable and called Fire of England.

 

The other mare was very plain and had won only one small race. Her foal was plain like her and called plain Jack. “You will have to work very hard if you are to be a winner, Plain Jack.” She told him sternly, “You don’t come from a family of great winners like Fire. All the same”, she said tartly “he’ll come to a bad end if he doesn’t behave himself.”

 

Jack remembered her words and when they went to the sales he behaved his very best. But he only fetched a small price. He was bought by a man called Bill who lived in the North.

But Fire, in spite of behaving disgracefully as he was too proud to settle for any of the buyers who wanted him, was sold for an enormous price to a very rich owner, and went to live in the best stable in England.

 

I will try very hard to make Bill pleased with me” thought Jack. A lad called Barney looked after him and his jockey was called Joe. They liked Plain Jack because he was so even tempered and tried hard. When he was ready to race, they took him to Yarmouth. To Jack’s surprise he found Fire was entered in the same race.

Fire was ridden by the best Jockey in England. Everyone admired him. But he was very naughty indeed and bucked his jockey off. The crowd booed and someone threw a rotten tomato.

But Plain Jack tried his hardest and came 5th out of 23 horses.

Bill, Joe and Barney were very pleased with him.

 

Every time Jack raced he tried his hardest ad the crowd liked him because he always tried his hardest. Barney read to Jack from the racing pages of the newspaper “Plain Jack is a great favourite with the racing public” But on the last page it said “Fire of England disappointment.” It said Fire was to be sold as he was no good.

Plain Jack did not see him again until he was sent to run a race at Epsom.

 

The racecourse was on the downs, and people were picnicking and playing cricket. Some children were riding along by the rails.

One of the horses was a very thin poor chestnut. When it saw Plain Jack going down to the start of the race it put up its head and whinnied. Jack got a great surprise, recognizing his old friend Fire.

Jack did not want to race, he wanted to stay with Fire. When the race started Jack hung back. Joe did not know what was wrong with him. Fire bucked his jockey off just like old times, jumped the rails and chased after the race. He ran like the wind.

Look at that thin old nag” everyone laughed “he’s the fastest of the lot”

But at the end Fire was caught and led away in disgrace.

 

Plain Jack had come last and Bill and Joe and Barney were very disappointed with him. It was the first bad race he had run.

They took him home, but Jack would not eat and stood with his head in the corner thinking of poor Fire.

He got very thin. Bill called the vet, but the vet could find nothing wrong with him.

I don’t understand it,” said Bill, “Ever since Epsom…” Barney had an idea. He told Joe to go to Epsom to find out about the thin chestnut horse who seemed to have upset Jack so. Joe searched all the riding stables and at last found Fire in a grotty shed with no food and no water. He was thinner than before and very miserable. Joe examined him carefully.

Why! You’re Fire of England – I recognize you! The day the Guv’nor bought Jack, you were sold for half a million pounds! But you’re not worth tuppence now”

 

Joe told Bill and Bill bought Fire from his nasty owner. Joe fetched Fire home. When he walked in the yard Jack put his head out of his box and whinnied with excitement.

Bill laughed “So that was the trouble! Put him in the box next to Jack, and get them each a good feed. I can use Fire for my hack.”

Barney brought 2 big feeds. Both horses ate up every oat – and wanted more!

 

So Fire of England came back into a racing stable and grew fat and happy again. Plain Jack went on running races, trying his hardest and never giving in, and the racing public loved him because he never let them down, except that one time.

When Fire and Jack got old and were retired, they were turned out together. They stood under the trees in the shade, swishing their tails – the horse with a great talent who never used it, and the horse with little talent who used it all.

(So who would you rather be? Which way would you like your children brought up? If you look back on your life until now have you behaved more like Fire or Jack? If you look to the future when you’re all alone and decrepit, will you still hold onto arrogant ideas of yourself? It’s never too late to change  Do animals really feel such deep empathy that they get ill when they know of the mistreatment of others? Humans are animals too.)

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Proof of a soul

I haven’t really wanted to go on about what inspired me to write this blog as if I mention mental health a lot of people automatically switch off, but I’ve just had a potentially good meeting.

If I had been listened to when I was initially admitted to a mental hospital in December 2012 it could have saved 4 months of my life being locked away from my eldest 2 daughters.

I won’t go into detail, but sexual discrimination is rife in the UK, I didn’t realise the extent until I wasn’t believed because I am female. Really. Now time has passed and I can prove myself again I actually think I have a fighting chance of getting my complaint upheld. If I can prove I wasn’t mentally ill, I was just being myself and responding to being treated as mentally ill and not believed for telling the truth which sent me into a deep physical depression, then it could prove the existence of the human soul.

Lack of empathy for me as a human being caused me to lose all empathy for myself and my whole body stiffened and every passing moment was painful and devoid of emotion. I was dying from the inside out, a slow involuntary suicide that I had no control over. I didn’t know you could die from depression apart from willfully committing suicide. You can. It used to be called melancholia and was recognised as a natural human response to a broken heart. I now fully understand why people would commit suicide willfully, anything to stop the agony of being alive with no empathy. It lasted 5 weeks until ECT switched my empathy back on and I could be myself again.

We are all prisoners in our own minds and lack of empathy for ourselves and others switches out the light of our humanity, our soul.

Living with the truth while others continue to believe a delusion of me that I just can’t be has stretched me to my limits and shown me what I am capable of. I’m secretly glad of the dreadful ordeal I went through as it has taught me everything I have ever believed is true.

Humans are inherently kind and good, but being brought up with discrimination leads to unkind, bad behaviours that go against nature. All discrimination is wrong. All humans are equal, no matter their race, gender, age or faith. I know these words are easy to say, but they are terrifically hard to live by if you have ever been made to feel inferior or superior to others by virtue of your birth into the “wrong” or “right” family with the “wrong” or “right” gender, or just for being a child or an OAP.

There is light at the end of the tunnel to all who have ever suffered discrimination, you just have to forgive and believe…

In humanity, God, Buddha, Allah, unconditional love, kindness, yourself, your soul, the world, Mother Nature, children, art, culture, stories, whatever you feel you can pin your dreams to and not be let down.

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