Morning Light

Spotlight On Mental Health

Today’s blog entry is from Peer Support Worker, Michael Varma. It is an excerpt from his book, The Gong Show: Reinventing Self and includes a description of his experience of hearing voices. You can get more information about his book at

gong-showMorning Light

Outside, the blowing wind made me cringe. I disliked things out of my control. Apparently even nature was subject to my prejudice. I smiled. The wind now felt like a long lost friend. It tarried a while until the pain of enjoyment became almost unbearable. Unable to recall the last time I felt something as sensual as the wind on my face; sorrow-filled memories welled up of times long passed. Feeling was dangerous; feeling hurt. I had no time to feel. My mind snapped shut returning all to memory.

The streets were eerily dead; surprising considering it was the West End. I wiped the evidence of ordeal from my face as if straightening my tie for a job interview, hoping to find any place that’d put up with me and my paranoia. It was ironic I should be concerned about my looks so close to the end. The confusing arrival of light turned to fear of exposure. A musical chorus of birdsong revealed how early it was.

Enchanted by their natural praise for the gift of life, I wondered what song humanity sang? What song did I sing? Did they know something I didn’t and who were they singing for and why? They seemed indifferent to the machinations of the human world s if existing on another plane altogether. A friend pointed out the ‘obvious’ fact that even animals knew how to live and take care of their needs. Had I become less than an animal in not knowing how to take care of mine?

Confused, I wanted to trade my existence for theirs. Gentle, sweet sounding voices expressed their disbelief and concern. “Why?” I asked, “should it matter if I was an animal or not.” ‘Ah, potential,’ came the reply. Yes, even in my madness that made sense. A human being had more potential than a bird and an animal, but to do what? Their lives seemed to run on a simple program called ‘survival’: eat, sleep and repeat. What did they do with their free time? ‘Thankful enjoyment,’ a chorus of voices resounded; singing in praise. Overcome by warm feelings, I saw how being thankful for the gift of life itself – gratitude, was indeed a worthy goal. What was more beautiful than that? But what could I do when it was already too late for me?

Around me, the few ‘early birds’ were making their way to work. “What made them continue on with the obvious lie they called life?” I asked searchingly. “They look like robots asleep at the wheel.” ‘Listen to yourself,’ a quiet voice said, making me aware of my judgmentality. “What does it matter,” I retorted in half-hearted sarcasm, “I’ll be dead soon.” ‘Look again.’ The voice spoke with such gentle authority and grace that I had to comply – I had no reason not to! I looked not seeing anything out of the ordinary. ‘Keep looking.’ I looked and looked and looked until frustration, fueled by my paranoid need to be right, tottered on rage. ‘Keep looking,’ the voice said encouragingly.

Then something changed. People walked by; ordinary people wearing ordinary clothes, walking ordinary gaits down ordinary streets on their way to ordinary jobs – all exceedingly ordinary.  My mind, on the other hand, had become anything but ordinary. It was quiet!

Trying not to stare, but needing to look nonetheless, I looked into their eyes, the mirrors of their soul, and gasped. An energy field emanated from them reminding me of the fabled life force I’d heard so much about. “So what,” I bulleted out, but the damage had been done. In them I recognized something I’d somehow lost, given up or never had. Regardless of my judgments, they had a sense of purpose and direction that worked for them. Was that my task, my raison d’être, to find my own purpose and direction in my own life? But it was too late for me, wasn’t it?

As my heart melted, a small glow emanated from people much like lamplight on a misty night. “Is that their aura,” I asked in awe, but my attention was held and drawn further inward. “What am I looking for now, the light bulb inside?” I asked sarcastically. Below their heart centers a small burning flame burned; bright in some and barely a flicker in others, yet alight nonetheless. Even those I’d judged as mere robots carrying such a flame and that it was still alight! ‘It is in each and every one of us,’ the soft-spoken voice informed. ‘It is what we do with our life that makes it burn brighter or dimmer.’ I was truly humbled.

As if awakening from a dream, the sun made its morning debut and I found myself across the street from the Blenz coffee shop at Davie and Bute. Feeling even more exposed and vulnerable, I longed for the company of others. Even homeless drug addicts would do.

A determined breeze cleared away the night’s thoughts. “The winds of change,” I reasoned. Knowing change could come in many forms, I tactically stepped back inside my shell.

© Michael J. Varma, The Gong Show, 2011 –

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