Most of what I write about when I write about the personal is a shared, universal experience, and I mark it down in a public forum because the GREAT BIG RUN from Perth to Adelaide, just like the last slightly less GREAT BIG RUN from Adelaide to Melbourne relies on public attention to a) raise money and b) spark dialogue around homelessness, and also because I know that there are others who feel the same, wage the same battles and fight the same demons.
When I get stuck and lose my way...
There are days when I feel that all I am doing is 'shouting into the wind', literally on a particularly challenging morning run. Figuratively, in interpersonal relationships where I find myself unable to articulate my thoughts or feelings in a way that the other will understand, without compromising the what.
And frequently when I start to speak in this space; to readers known and unknown.
The residual frustrations and feelings of inadequacy, bordering on imposter syndrome, often leave me unable to schedule the content or timing of these posts. The 'what' usually comes in a flash, and I have to rush to get it down, before I lose focus or start to doubt myself.
It is easy enough to write long paragraphs on the theory, and pull up statistics and reputable sources of information.
But these facts and figures only impact those who are already sympathetic to the cause, those who already recognise the human element of the numbers, and are aggrieved that so many people (mothers, daughters, fathers, sons, brothers, sisters, nieces, nephews) are left vulnerable and suffering.
Those same facts and figures are merely data that cannot change the minds of others who have set their confirmation bias to such a standard that they will ONLY ever see the stories that fit their narrative.
It is less easy to write about the stories shared with me, during the complex and private interactions I have with rough sleepers while running about in the small, wee hours of the morn without feeling like I am exploiting people. Without feeling like I am sharing secrets that are not my own. Without overstepping an invisible boundary, even with good intention.
On top of this - training brings with it a sweat inducing swamp of anxiety and self doubt, some days impossibly deep and treacherous - ironically not in the belief that I can complete the training, or even the event itself; the commitment to achievement is unwavering. More that I don't have claim to share spaces - exercise spaces. This is where imposter syndrome peaks for me - and swallows whole any sense of potential belonging. Always the outsider looking in; now choosing to be in places that feel completely foreign, and usually surrounded by mirrors. And those mirrors are like a wall of shiny armour ready to shimmer back the disappointment and disgust that my refection generates within me.
...I find my way again.
I do NOT hold anyone as accountable as I hold myself...I believe without a second of hesitation that EVERYONE with any body; shape, size and ability should move it where, when and how they like - so much so that it isn't a conscious thought. (Currently finding ways again, to apply the same principles to the person, sometimes unfamiliar, staring back in the mirror.)
The gift that is helping others - is without question the greatest way we can help ourselves...there is overwhelming scientific evidence that indicates that helping others can also benefit our own mental health and wellbeing. For example, it can reduce stress as well as improve mood, self-esteem and happiness
I know for me it is the swift kick in the backside I need to pull myself out of matters that are of no consequence, or that I have no control over...it feels GOOD to DO good...possibly even better than running !
And feeling good is where it is at...it cannot be bought, it cannot be provide by someone else, but it can come from within.
The truth is that I do not hold it within my power to change the status quo, I cannot effect change on a large scale - even on a small scale my words are often lost and without legitimate influence, and at times I falter, stumble and get quiet.
And then I remember what I have seen, and the stories shared with me (a stranger, yet a trusted vessel). I remember the smiles, the tears, the shared frustration...and I try to find my voice again...and fervently hope for contagion of kindness - whereby one person acts in faith and it starts a ripple, a wave, a flood, an ocean of human reach.
& hope that it is enough; trust that shouting into the wind is better than not shouting at all.
I will keep at the words, AND the actions ...keep writing / musing / sharing ...keep running across the country ...until people experiencing homelessness are no longer invisible / represented as the bad guy in daily narrative / forgotten and overlooked ...until the government steps up and applies practical and proven solutions to #endhomelessness.