The Red Wheelbarrow

Red Wheelbarrow (solo)

How observant are you? When a tragedy strikes, how observant were you to the little details that led to the big tragedy? Could the tragedy have been avoided if you had paid attention to the little details leading up to the tragedy?

These questions came to mind when I found out about a little poem called The Red Wheelbarrow by William Carlos Williams.

Red Wheelbarrow (The Poem)

The red wheelbarrow
By: William Carlos Williams
so much depends
upon

a red wheel
barrow

glazed with rain
water

beside the white
chickens

What does this poem mean? What exactly is the poet trying to say?

Is he saying:-
The redness of the wheelbarrow makes one think of a childhood toy? Why is it outside, left in the rain? Did something happen to cause it to be abandoned? Was it a tragedy of some kind?
“So much depends upon” – what exactly is it that depends on the wheelbarrow? Could the tragedy have been avoided? Did the incident happen recently or long ago?
Was the poet an adult who should have known better and could have avoided the tragedy? Was the poet a child when this unspoken incident occurred? Was the poet somehow responsible and could this thing that depends so much on the wheelbarrow be the long sadness that he’s felt because of his involvement?
The colours red and white – why those colours? If there was a tragedy, then red and white could symbolise blood and bone.

Red Wheelbarrow with chickens

Perhaps the poem is saying that whatever it is that depends on the simple wheelbarrow is like anything else in life – that big important things depends on little details like the wheelbarrow and the chickens?

Maybe big tragedies or big things happen because we ignore and don’t pay attention to the little details.

What do you think?

Light and Laughter . . .

clown_floating_balloons_md_wht

This past week the untimely death of comedian and actor Robin Williams shocked everyone. He was known for making people laugh in the roles he portrayed in movies and yet, was apparently plagued by addiction to drugs and depression which apparently led him to commit suicide.

Over the years I have learnt that people who put on a clown costume with a big red nose are usually people who are shy, introverted and terribly sad people. They hide behind the mask of making others laugh to hide their own sadness and insecurities. This is a generalisation but is apparently true of most clowns.

Clown hammering head

With the death of Robin Williams this week, I’ve also been thinking about a song written in the late 1960s by the Gibb brothers (known as the Bee Gees) called “I Started a Joke” which is supposedly about someone who has done or said something horribly wrong, which results in feelings of social alienation.

I Started A Joke
I started a joke which started the whole world crying
But I didn’t see that the joke was on me oh no
I started to cry which started the whole world laughing
Oh If I’d only seen that the joke was on me

I looked at the skies running my hands over my eyes
And I fell out of bed hurting my head from things that I said
‘Till I finally died which started the whole world living
Oh If I’d only seen that the joke was on me

I looked at the skies running my hands over my eyes
And I fell out of bed hurting my head from things that I said
‘Till I finally died which started the whole world living
Oh If I’d only seen that the joke was on me
Oh no that the joke was on me

This got me thinking about the possibility that maybe people who entertain us wearing a clown costume or as comedians on stage feel alienated from society for some or other reason and that wearing a clown costume or using comedy to entertain in movies and/or on stage, is a coping mechanism for them?

Let’s look at some of the characteristics of clowns and try to understand what is hidden behind the mask.

Clown_Flowers out of sleeve

Some insight into the personality of clowns by Dr Nicola Davies (http://healthpsychologyconsultancy.wordpress.com/2012/08/10/the-clown-personality/?blogsub=confirming#subscribe-blog):

• Clowns use humour to connect with others, which is an effective tool for social survival because we all like people who make us laugh.
• Clowns like to make fun of themselves and others to provoke laughter. Making fun of themselves shows they don’t take themselves too seriously.
• Clowns sometimes use sarcasm or put-downs to hide their aggression. They have the ability to laugh at how ridiculous and absurd life and people can be, including themselves.
• Because they laugh at their own faults, clowns inspire us to laugh at ours. Their humour is contagious; they can put almost anyone in a good mood.

However, not all humour is positive or healthy. The clown can also use humour to mask feelings of insecurity and aggression.

• Clowns are emotionally sensitive and might feel offended when told they are not really that funny, or that their humour is unwelcome. On the other hand, the well-meaning clown will apologise instead of showing aggression.
• When someone is using humour to escape the reality of a painful situation or through lack of self-confidence, gently remind them that it’s okay and necessary to accept and allow hurtful feelings to be expressed.

Coming back to the death of actor and comedian Robin Williams – was he a “clown” when not working or was this just the role he portrayed in movies?

• What led to his depression? Did he feel socially excluded/alienated – if so, why?
• What was his greatest desire as a human being? What was he not getting from the world? Did he feel empty and think he was a failure? Why?
• Was he emotionally fragile and did he use humour as a way of connecting with the world or was this only the role he portrayed as an actor/comedian?

Creativity, depression and addiction:
Is there a connection between creativity, depression and addiction?

According to an article on forbes.com (see http://www.forbes.com/sites/alicegwalton/2014/08/12/robin-williams-and-the-dark-side-of-the-comedic-mind/):
• Creativity and mental illness are intimately connected.
• Addiction and depression: that same little quiet voice that says “just one more” is the same one that could say “jump” so those who are prone to addiction can just as easily be prone to committing suicide.
• The extreme darkness that can lurk underneath the humour is another reality for comedians. According to the British Journal of Psychiatry research has found a strong connection between comedic skill and, if not psychosis, something close to it. Being creative – writing, composing, painting and being humorous might therefore be an outlet – an escape from the pain of depression.

Sometimes people make us laugh so we can’t see how much they hurt

People who are creative have an empathy for and sensitivity to the world that allows them to feel things deeply and among those who gravitate towards depression – both creativity and addiction are outlets – ways to feel and to feel if not more hopeful, at least less sad.

Severe depression can prevent a person from believing that treatment could help resulting in the person not seeking help. When the pain gets too much and seems as if it is without end, suicide seems to be the only viable alternative to suffering.

Wow, this is really scary stuff. I am creative (interested in craft work and play a musical instrument), have an addictive personality (I’m addicted to chocolates) and I come from a family prone to depression (and more than one successful suicide). Does this mean that I am a high risk for becoming depressed and possibly even committing suicide?

I went through a period of depression not too long ago. Not realising that I was depressed, I obviously did not seek help. By the time our family General Practitioner (GP) realised I was depressed, I was already coming out of the depression. He said “I could prescribe something, but you are already coming out of the depression so it’s not really going to help”.

As far as committing suicide is concerned, I think I’m too much of a coward to inflict harm on myself. I have a high pain threshold but will not willingly inflict pain on myself however, when going down that deep dark abyss of depression, anything is possible.

I am a house of four rooms . . .

House_Green

There is an Indian belief that everyone is a house of four rooms – a physical, a mental, an emotional and a spiritual.

Most of us tend to live in one room most of the time, but unless we go into every room every day, even if only to keep it aired, we are not complete.

It has been almost one year now that I have spent most of my time in my emotional room. I’ve been on an emotional roller coaster for eleven months now and some days it is more difficult to suppress the emotions wanting to come to the surface. Why the need to suppress these emotions, I hear you asking?

• Cannot cry at home because I don’t want mom to feel like she is causing me stress or feel that she is a burden to me (because she is not).
• Cannot cry at work because I don’t want to have to explain to everyone why I need to cry. Not everyone will understand which will make me want to cry even more.
• I usually shed a tear or two while driving home or on my way to work or on my way to the grocery store. This, however, has to be suppressed as quickly as possible because it usually happens in the last five minutes before I reach my destination and I don’t want to walk in with red swollen eyes.
• Cannot cry when I’m alone in bed at night because mom could call me at any time and . . . (see first bullet point)
• Cannot ask someone to stay with mom while I go off somewhere by myself to cry – just seems daft to do this and I will worry more about what’s going on at home in my absence i.e. if mom’s condition should deteriorate in my absence.

I need to cry, I need to have one good old crying session – just me and my box of tissues. Having some chocolate or ice cream in the same room is not a bad idea. They are my comfort foods. I love teddies too, so maybe a teddy to hug is not a bad idea either.

What else would I need to have in my room? My PJ’s and slippers. On the day that I have this crying session, I would not want to get dressed. I would want to walk around in my PJ’s and slippers all day. Needlesss to say I will not want any visitors coming around on this day. I would want the freedom to not need to open the door nor answer the telephone.

What will happen after I have had this crying session? Well, it will free me of all this pent up emotions I have been suppressing and will enable me to move on with my life. It will enable me to take better care of my physical, mental and spiritual rooms which have been sadly neglected these last few months.

I have not completely abandoned my physical room, I have been in and out of that room every week, but I have not given it as much attention as it deserves. My mental room is very closely linked to my emotional room so once I have my emotional room sorted out, my mental room will automatically sort itself out.

My spiritual room? Well, I’m afraid to say that this one has been sorely neglected for a while now (for various reasons, the current reason not being the major cause).

How about you? Which room of your house are you spending most of your time in?

Which room would you prefer to spend more time in?

When will you be moving to the next room?