Perusing the daily newspaper yesterday morning, I was intrigued by the background story about a 5K walk due to take place in Cape Town the following morning. It was being held by an International Charity which counsels people with suicidal tendencies. This annual event is part of a worldwide movement allowing people to identify with those suffering from such serve trauma that ending their life appears to them to be the only solution.
My Personal Motivation
Some personal motivations for participating in this walk, starting in the dark at 6.30 in the morning entered my mind. In my lineage, there is a strong genetic predisposition to mood disorder. A number of my antecedents, including my mother, decided to prematurely end their own life, a factor which was dominated my awareness when confronting my own ongoing personal challenges.
Then there was a rather strange negative reason driving me to make an effort to support this worthy cause. I had been unfairly denied the opportunity to participate in a sporting competition over the weekend. Some form of justification could be made in being forced to remain on the sidelines, as I now had the opportunity to support a wonderful cause which had counselled over 20 000 people with suicidal tendencies.
The starting time for this event was 30 minutes before sunrise. The symbolism of walking from the darkness into the light caught my imagination. This transformation was a metaphor not only for saving a life but also the positive emotional changes which happen when a potential suicide victim accepts psychological counselling and is assisted in seeing their life journey more positively.
Getting Registered for the Event
Having decided to take part in the walk, I was presented with the challenge of entering the event online. While the newspaper article explicitly encouraged members of the public to involve themselves in this public-spirited activity, the report did not contain any information about the online registration procedure. I phoned the newspaper which featured the article, to learn that the staff do not work on a Friday. The write-up appeared in the Friday morning edition of a publication which does not publish on Saturday, so the team have Fridays off work! As the walk was the following day, this presented a problem.
The young lady of Independent News recognising my earnest desire for this vital contact information offered to do some research and then to phone me back. True to her word, she contacted me twenty minutes later with details of the website www.darknessintolight.ie I made my donation online and was all set to go.
Getting up in the Dark
It was a strange feeling getting up at 5.30 on a Saturday morning. Past experiences of making such an early start would have been to catch a flight or to leave before the traffic intensifies. In this instance, it is to perform a task of compassion before the light of day emerges!
Reaching my destination, a crowd of several hundred people had already gathered in anticipation of the 5K walk. On the dot of 6.30, the organisers offered an inspiring talk about the work of this initiative, its worldwide influence, and the benefits of many families who had reacted positively to the psychological support they had received from psychological counselling. The suggestion was that the first kilometre is walked in silence, allowing each participant to tune into their own feelings and their personal motivation for undertaking this exercise. This was profoundly meaningful for me as I reviewed my relationship with my mother and had the feeling that she would be proud of me for undertaking this challenge.
The bonus of this outing was getting into a conversation with Gerette, a delightful teacher of High School English. She introduced me to her husband, who was completing the walk in a wheelchair. This had been his means of transport since having been involved in a motorcycle accident while in high school. Lukas, their son, had accompanied his father for the first 4 K’s of the walk, but decided to join his mother and me for the last stretch, as his father was going too fast in his wheelchair! I chatted to Dad about his speediness after the walk, and he explained that he has less hard work to do when moving more quickly as the momentum kept him going with less manual effort.
I felt a deep sense of gratitude on the completion of this effort and wore my new bright yellow t-shirt for the rest of the day. This allowed me further opportunity to spread the word about the significance of “From Darkness into light”