W.A.S.H tour #13 – Berlin day off

First thing this morning, I sent a group email:

Laundry – who’s in? Noon sharp.

No takers because late drinking. Me on my own. So I find laundrette, figure out coin-op button-grid, go tea, do dryer, fold clothes, return hotel, repatriate clean clothes. Then it’s a 15-minute taxi ride…I see the word vegan quite often on restaurant and café signs. Am I still in Germany?

Destroy all humans

Ah! Here we are. For a while I feared the driver had taken me somewhere weird. We pull up outside yesterday’s venue. The bus is parked outside. Yes, bus is home again. You can call this situation first-world-homelessness: with no hotel or dayroom to hang in, the bus is your only home.

I’ll admit, I’m flying today. The happy pills are doubly effective when there’s no gig. It’s the first real day off since we began, so perhaps there’s some natural euphoria beneath the traditional medicine.

Ain’t much to do on the bus. But…within a ten-minute walk, the streets teem with people, shops and cafés, bicycle lamps twitch, and fairy lights twinkle. It’s not quite Christmas yet. They seem to acknowledge November.

Days like today, I get on Twitter and Facebook. The hot topic is of course ISIS/IS/ISIL/DAESH/WHATEVER. On social media there’s a lot of posturing, drawing lines in the sand. People are basically thinking out loud…typing…CAPS KEY STUCK WITH CHEWING GUM. It’s sad really, all this division. People say war without thinking.

Walking in Berlin today, I imagined what it must have been like here in 1945, the dying days of World War Two. Rubble everywhere, a cacophony of gunfire, the stench of death mingling with smoke. Germany’s enemies circle…young boys and old men fight side by side…the last defenders of madness gone completely insane. Surely war is the ultimate mental illness.

There was a lot to WW2, and one aspect was religion. People were murdered because of theirs. Since I was a kid, the line has always been ‘Never forget.’ But in 2015 it’s all about religion again.

And what has religion got to do with mental health?
A friend of mine once said religion is a mental illness.

I’m sitting at the window, watching the world get older. I’m eating pizza with a knife and fork. I start thinking about religion. (Sometimes I get God and pizza mixed up.)

I reckon religion is (at least) three things:
1) a way of life
2) a system of beliefs on the nature and destiny of humankind
3) a mix of both.

So basically you have real life, and things you believe.

Let’s say you belong to a church, and they don’t look kindly at alcohol. But you still have a drink now and then…it harms no one. Why is that a problem? Because you have to be sneaky about it. THE SHAME! So maybe strict religious rules can lead to internal conflict in an individual. You’re supposed to act one way, but inside you’re something else. On a mental health vibe, that’s gonna bite one day.

If your beliefs and reality gel, if they make you happy, and they cause no harm…is that a mental illness? Happiness doesn’t make you mental!

On the other hand, if you’re unhappy…if you’re angry…chances are there’s something in your life that’s bad for you. And if you’re religious and angry…well maybe your life and religion don’t agree. That’s going to bite you.

Maybe some folks need rules to be happy. Some certainly don’t. Happiness can be as complex or as simple as you want it to be. You don’t need to fully understand the nature and destiny of humankind. Sometimes you just need clean clothes and a big pizza.

It’s been a lovely day off, despite social media where people draw lines in virtual sand, demonising others because of religion. Okay, we can all admit that in the real world, conflict is on the rise. But in the world of social media, where people fight ideological wars from the safety of their laptops…maybe your only real enemy is yourself. Crazy comes in many ways.


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