I gave a talk today at the Mansfield Mind, Body & Spirit fair – standing in the Council chambers at the Civic Centre, with pictures of mayors past and present watching from the walls. A full house, too, with a lovely receptive group of people.
I always get nervous. Even now, after doing this for some years. Especially when the topic is based around my second book – essentially talking about darkness and depression, but from the perspective of balance, acknowledgment, truth and potential. It’s not easy.
This isn’t putting a positive spin on a difficult subject. This is facing that subject head-on, seeing and feeling it in all its pain, guilt and social awkwardness. My Druidry pushes me, insists I see what needs to be seen. Generally speaking, this is often precisely what’s needed, and I’m glad that my audiences seem to welcome that honesty.
After I’d finished, I was told by one attendee that she’d heard people discussing the talk beforehand. “Ooh, darkness – I don’t know about that.” Because apparently it sounded too… well… dark. A bit much for some.
The presenter who came after me was talking about palmistry. Apparently even more people had squeezed into the (large) room for this one – because it was ‘easier’ than mine, I was told. Apparently people like to be told what to do, to be given answers.
Chatting to people afterwards, hearing their stories and even holding them as they cried, I was glad that I spoke as I did. Yes, it might well be challenging or difficult. I encourage exploration, to think for yourself, to find your own way. If you’re brave enough to dare to come into the room, to give up your time and simply listen, engage and consider – that’s a big step. The first of many.
I spoke of solidarity, of shared experience, of the potential in the darkness which keeps us moving. We can stop – or we can go on.
We can step through the door, or we can stay in the safe places, seek affordable solutions and people to sort out our difficulties for us. That’s our choice, after all.
One day, those who didn’t come in may find themselves ready. The door will still be there – as will the darkness, waiting to be faced.
I still get nervous when I step up to speak publicly, every time. But I take that step – because I know I must.