Winston Churchill, who himself spent about 10 years in political exile after WWI, once wrote that:
“Every prophet has to come from civilisation, but every prophet has to go into the wilderness. S/he must have a strong impression of a complex society and all that it has to give, and then they must serve periods of isolation and meditation. This is the process by which psychic dynamite is made.”
Psychic dynamite is not just handed to us. We aren’t born resilient or with confidence. We have to earn it. We have to make it. And that is only possible in difficult circumstances, it can only be found in the wilderness, where we are alone, where we are forced to adapt and adjust to circumstances outside our control.
It won’t be fun, but it is essential.
And yet, as best as I can observe, we tend to avoid time in ‘the wilderness.’ We’re not encouraged to linger there – to sit uncomfortably with the confusion and crap of existence. Rather, we are encouraged to escape any distress in our lives, to ignore, avoid, numb out and/or circumnavigate the inevitable pain and distress of being human, with limited short term success. (At least that was my personal experience)
I don’t know why life has to initiate us with all its shittiness and horrible happenings, but it does and it appears it has been doing so for thousands of years. I don’t see it changing anytime soon.
It seems that each generation is required to blunder through its own, brief time on earth, leaving trails of chaos and destruction behind it. Thankfully, we also leave trails of love, beauty and laughter at the same time.
Hopefully, each generation grows a little wiser, and the chaos and damage become a little less painful and destructive as time passes. Hopefully, the joyous part of our nature multiplies tenfold. One day we may, as a species…well who knows what possibilities lie ahead. As always, time will tell.
As far as Churchill goes, he captures the mystery of us all. Brilliant, funny, inspiring and yet deeply flawed – like all of us. He didn’t seem particularly tolerant or accepting of other cultures and people, (some say he was blatantly racist) he drank far too much, he didn’t seem to look after his body and of course, he made significant military blunders that resulted in thousands of pointless deaths. It also appears that he oversaw the awful Indian famine that resulted in over two million deaths in 1943, while stockpiles of food sat there ready and waiting. It’s safe to say he made plenty of awful, costly mistakes, yet again, haven’t we all.
(A local walk – nature helps keep me stable)