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September 2018

The caterpillar and the rock

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I had work to do so my daughters headed out for a walk on their own. They climbed one of the mountains alongside the campsite we were staying at. The steep climb to the top took them just over an hour. They had climbed fast and felt pleased with their efforts. On the top they went to the rock that signalled the highest point and were delighted to see a caterpillar climbing to the top of the rock. They photographed it and relayed the story to me on their return. It reminded me of a story called the caterpillar by Andreas Fay, a storyteller known as the Hungarian Aesop.

A caterpillar climbed with great effort to the top of a milestone. “Goodness me, what a mountain!” he shouted with joyous self-satisfaction. “How amazed the world will be to discover that I could climb so high!”

“Yes, that’s a long way for a caterpillar,” said a fox standing nearby. “But that still doesn’t make it a mountain!” and with a light spring ne jumped over both the caterpillar and the milestone.

Just because something is easy for someone else doesn’t mean it will be for us, but every mountain top is within our reach so long as we keep climbing.

“Victories in life come through our ability to work around and over the obstacles that cross our path. We grow stronger as we climb our own mountains”. Marvin J Ashton.

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Why connection is better than drugs

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Imagine a dog in kennels waiting to be rehomed. We see the video on Facebook telling us how sad and depressed the dog is, and how it sits, staring, into the corner. The solution, they say, is company and a new home. We are shown how the dog’s mood has lifted when it finds a family, has company, and someone to take it on walks.
 
We are shown how company, connection, and attention have transformed the dog’s life.
 
Now imagine that same dog, sitting in the kennels, forlornly staring into the corner. Imagine the staff asking the vet to come and see the dog because they think he’s depressed. The vet says that the dog appears to have a chemical imbalance in the brain, prescribes some drugs for him, and sends him back into the same kennel, alone. The vet says he will assess him again in a month. The dog goes back to staring into the corner.
 
Most people would agree that this approach would be crazy. It’s obvious that it’s both the environment the dog is in and the lack of connection that are making the dog depressed. It doesn’t need drugs, it needs company, connection, and hope.
 
Yet isn’t that the way we treat people? The person who is depressed, living alone, or with people they don’t emotionally connect with, goes to the doctor to ask for help. The doctor decides that the patient has a chemical imbalance in the brain, gives him some tablets, and sends him back into the very environment that is making him ill. Obviously, the doctor can’t say “Here’s your new forever home” to his patient, but he could consider that maybe the patient needs an opportunity to connect with other people and to get outdoors. Even just once a week they could benefit from some wild art therapy, or even just a walk with people they can connect with.