Colony of Losers- Fuck Stigma and Mental Illness, I'm like 25

Surviving your Quarter Life Crisis and becoming an adult

There is a rock

Posted on | April 14, 2019 | No Comments

All I can hear is the distracting cacophony of a coffee shop. Orders being placed. Semi-lame music being played. Fingers attacking laptops working on shitty screenplays. The espresso machine whistle. A tapping of feet from someone who drank too much coffee.

That’s me. I’m tapping. In the midst of euphoria that could become anxiety if I don’t get up and move soon. I notice my leg shaking and choose to stop the movement.

Ok. I should go now. Right now.

And then the song stops, and the coffee finishes pouring and there is a second of almost perfect silence.

He yawns. And I’m a sucker for a good yawn.

He is a friendly man sitting next to me in a coffee shop.

He is extremely good looking and muscular with an infectious smile he gives freely to anyone who happens to make eye contact with him. He looks like a person without a problem in the world.

I give him a big smile and then yawn back. He sees my grin and laughs.

“What?”

“Just yawning to show our shared humanity…”

I explain how sociopaths don’t yawn because they don’t have empathy.

“Nice to know you aren’t a sociopath!”

Sometimes I yawn purposefully because I read that article.

“True!”

This time the yawn is accidental.

“High five for humanity,” he says.

He gives me a high five and the barrier between strangers temporarily collapses.

I ask him what he’s doing. He tells me he’s working on a training routine for a client.

So he’s a personal trainer. Which explains why he sort of looks like an action hero.

He asks me what I’m doing today. I tell him I want to write about an idea I had about a rock.

“What about a rock?”

I hesitate because I don’t want to sound pretentious.

“So have you ever heard of the Myth of Sisyphus?”

He shakes his head.

“So the Greek Gods punished a Greek king by making him push a rock up a mountain every day. Dude was named Sisyphus,” I say. “When he reached the top the rock would roll down to the bottom of the mountain and he’d have to push it up again the next day.”

Camus used this parable to talk about how hilarious it is that all humans don’t just kill themselves and skip the absurdity of being alive. I will not allow this conversation to include this information.

“Whoa,” he says. “So you want to talk about that rock?”

“Yeah, sort of. People sort of talk about the myth of Sisyphus to prove different things. Like some people say that the story is everyone’s life. Sort of pointless striving and never really accomplishing much. Some people say that striving gives us purpose. I want to talk about the rock.”

“But what about it?”

“Well, I was thinking that the rock is sort of like a burden that you hold. That you didn’t choose. Like traumatic events leave this wound in you. Breakups, deaths, depression, sickness, whatever. Like there are things that will always hurt. It gets better, it doesn’t kill you but it stays a part of you and you have to carry it. And your experience of life is coloured by those wounds. Like the pain you experience isn’t just what’s happening but what’s happened to you. And I think about that when I have been struggling and it’s sort of amazing. That everyone is holding onto something, that they have to carry it too, and I don’t know it like makes it easier. Knowing that we share that. I know it’s insane but I often forget that everyone is alive as I am.”

“I’ve been through some fucked up things in the last while,” he says. “Makes it hard to see that other people are going through stuff too. You just get stuck in your head.”

“Totally,” I say. “And I think the problem with the Myth of Sisyphus is that it externalizes the rock. Makes the burden something you should be able to let go of. It’s chained to you or it’s something you hold in your hands.”

I wring my hands in his direction and he laughs. I made my face get over-animated. Because I know this could sound pretentious and when I twist my face it makes it seem like I don’t take myself too seriously. But he is more interested in my point than in me pretending not to be pretentious.

“Go on.”

“And being in pain makes you angry and it’s like angry at yourself. Because you should just fucking let it go,” I say. “As if it could be cured forever.  I think the reason we are hard on ourselves is that we can’t see the weight that we carry. In the same way, you can’t see the weight someone else carries. And you think that everyone else knows how to let it go. But they don’t. They just don’t want you to see it. Because they think they are the only one who’s holding something.”

He thinks about this for a second and he no longers looks carefree. I hope I haven’t put him off the conversation. In no way do I want to ruin this stranger’s day.

“There are some things I have really been trying to let go of,” he says, struggling with it, quickly changing the tenor of the conversation we are having. Now it’s straining, trying to fight against showing something he hasn’t shown anyone.  ”I went to counselling last year. And it’s been hard to just let it go. My burden I mean. I really want to let it go.”

“What I was thinking is that the really intense pain we feel is something we live with,” I say. “That we can’t let go of fully.”

He takes in a deep breath.

“And maybe the burden we can let go of is the guilt that we have something we have to carry. Because everybody does,” I say. “That there is nothing wrong about carrying something with you.”

There is a long silence.

“I think what’s important isn’t knowing how to let go of it. It’s just being aware that there is a rock and being kind to ourselves. Because we are carrying something that is hard and hurts and we didn’t choose to carry it. And there’s nothing wrong with us because we do. But it’s a lot harder when you forget there is a rock. ”

His eyes fill with emotion. Like he’s back in those spaces he wants to escape. Looking at them with a fear that dissipates as he refuses to look anywhere else.

And then he laughs. It’s a good laugh. Full of high giggles and deep throaty sounds. Like for just a moment we helped each other lift the weight by refusing to pretend it doesn’t exist.

“Thanks,” he says.

I smile back.

The moment is intimate and kind and altogether too much to experience a second more of.

I grab my computer, pay my bill and go to a bookstore.

My leg no longer shakes as I walk into the rain.

Feeling completely free for just a moment.

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  • About

    Michael Kimber is a 26-year-old journalist who suffered a nervous breakdown on November 3rd, 2009. On March 28th, 2010 when he recovered from mental illness, he began writing a blog called Colony-of-losers. About falling on your face to figure out who you are and the hilarious antics of a blond jew. What began with a few friends and his mother reading has become a cult phenomenon, averaging 10,000 views a week, receiving praise from Commonwealth Award Winner Shandi Mitchell and many others. On, November 3rd, 2010, the one year anniversary of his mental breakdown he signed with Anne McDermid and Associates, the largest literary agency in Canada. In a year he went from wearing pajamas, making his couch depression HQ to leaving his hometown for the Toronto, where he exclusively wears business suits and the armor of ancient Greeks. Don't worry, he's still choking on the feet he contently sticks in his mouth and making moments awkward just by being part of them. During these struggles he met other talented bastards and drew them into his circle. Peter Diamond became his illustrator. Patrick Campbell his video editor and part time photographer. He recently added the incredibly talented John Packman as Colony of Losers Toronto photographer. Without the support of the Colony of Losers, Michael Kimber would be nothing. Welcome to the losers and the success that comes from utter and complete failure. You aren’t alone. Follow him on twitter.com/colonyoflosersand twitter.com/quimbo. If you’d like to hire him for a public speaking engagement for mental health events in Toronto, like to arrange an interview, offer millions to publish his book or for another reason contact Michael please email him. And join his facebook Colony of Losers.

    Really obvious disclaimer:
    I’m not a trained psychologist. Just a fellow traveler. If you need help seek it from the professionals. The Canadian Mental Health Association provides a help locator. You can find crisis resources provided by the Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention. If you are in the states check here. It will give you services by zip code. I’d also recommend checking out Mindyourmind.ca. I think they do great work and have been a help to me personally.

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