It became clear that for my children to thrive, we would have to let go of the fears associated with being “different” and to explore an alternative value system that celebrate and embrace our uniqueness.
As R. D. Laing wrote in the book “Politics of Experience and the bird of paradise”:
What we call ‘normal’ is a product of repression, denial, splitting, projection, introjection and other forms of destructive action on experience. It is radically estranged from the structure of being. The more one sees this, the more senseless it is to continue with generalized descriptions of supposedly specifically schizoid, schizophrenic, hysterical ‘mechanisms.’ There are forms of alienation that are relatively strange to statistically ‘normal’ forms of alienation. The ‘normally’ alienated person, by reason of the fact that he acts more or less like everyone else, is taken to be sane. Other forms of alienation that are out of step with the prevailing state of alienation are those that are labeled by the ‘formal’ majority as bad or mad.”[i]
For Laing, instead of unconsciously leaving in a negative perspective within which we blame the world and others for what is happening to us, we must examine life and understand what triggers our negative impulses. If we look deeply enough, we will find the fears that drive these behaviours. While fear and anxiety evolved to keep us from physical danger, our brains use the same mechanisms for emotional danger. Depending on the upbringing we have, we can find that we expend a lot of energy each day dealing with fear:
“This underlying fear is not easy to work with; however, acknowledging it and becoming aware of our instinct to run away or cover it up with distractions, relationships and busyness, is a necessary starting point. We practice looking at what scares us and opening to all that life offers. We develop a greater compassion towards ourselves and our confidence can grow.”[ii]
With these ideas in mind, having a sabbatical leave, I decided to take us away from our regular life style to experiment with a different sensorial reality. I began to think that maybe, as Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn wrote, if we are honest with ourselves, most of us will have to admit that we live out our lives in an ocean of fear. [iii] Learning to live without fear is difficult to do so I decided that a change of context was essential to get us started in this process of change.
[i] Laing, R.D. (1967) The Politics of Experience and the Bird of Paradise. Harmondsworth: Penguin.
[ii] Laing, R.D. (1967) The Politics of Experience and the Bird of Paradise. Harmondsworth: Penguin.
[iii] Kabat-Zinn, Jon (1990). Full Catastrophe Living: Using the Wisdom of Your Body and Mind to Face Stress, Pain, and Illness. Delta; First Edition edition (May 1, 1990)