I Guess We're Not in Kansas Anymore
JERRY HYDE defies categorization – Psychotherapist, coach, guide, mentor. He’s trained in Tantra, been buried alive, fasted in the wilderness for days; his most apt calling card would readPsycho-Therapeutic Shamanic Coaching Guru. Though he’s been working therapeutically for over 18 years now, Jerry’s not a distant blank screen analyst who conforms to any particular approach or system; he works from the ‘ledge beyond the ledge.’ In short, he’s Gonzo.
Gonzo therapy is an irreverent and left-field approach with an emphasis on celebrating and revealing latent creativity.
Based in London, Jerry’s international clientele is made up almost entirely from people in the arts. Jerry also runs Vision Quest Retreats. For the most adventurous amongst you: The next one is in Wales this July. His first book, Play From Your Fucking Heart, is due out in 2014.
Creative Therapy for Creative People: www.jerryhyde.co.uk
In his monthly column TRUTH AT ALL COSTS, Jerry encourages you to question, to challenge, to live creatively on your terms, to go Gonzo.
I Guess We’re Not in Kansas Anymore
by Jerry Hyde
The email was simple:
“Just a reminder that we’ll need your next piece by Thursday the 20th”.
Interior. It’s late. Outside a storm rages. The single bulb of a 1940’s Herbert Terry angle poise lamp struggles to penetrate the smoky gloom; cigarette butts are piled high in a Bates Motel china ashtray; the writer, dressed in crumpled shirt sleeves and peaked visor, stabs with vicious abandon at the worn keys of an Underwood Master manual typewriter (in gun metal grey of course).
Fade to black.
I come to. My emphysemic MacBook with its cataract-clouded screen returns my gaze with blank disinterest, dead fish eyes staring back at me through a dirty patina of grime, compacted dust and coffee stains.
This isn’t working. I need more than stale incense and the cold, creeping draft that sneaks invisibly down the back of my neck… I need plantation shutters, an overhead fan, bloodstained sheets, discarded Bourbon bottles, I need atmosphere goddamn it, I’M AN ARTIST…
But that… is the question.
The big question – do you need to be fucked up to create? Must you be tortured to be an artist?
Not only is it a big question, it’s a very boring question. And a cliché.
And so, contrary to David Lynch’s view, I say bullshit, of course you don’t need to be fucked up, I always do my best work when I’m happy, the point is what to do when you are fucked up, how to turn shit into gold?
Now in order to answer that conundrum we must of course first turn to the Tasmanian Pademelon. This little bastard’s ancestors split from the placental mammals during the Jurassic period, and as you’ll recall the oldest metatherian fossils are to be found in present-day China. They began to migrate to Australia from North America via Antarctica in the late Cretaceous or early Tertiary period.
Zoologists now believe that the sole reason for this migration was ultimately to scare the living shit out of a solitary jungle dwelling Homo Sapiens by the name of Jerry Hyde.
Now, those of you that follow this column avidly will recall my first entry in which I talked about the incredible creative benefits of an ancient native American ritual called Vision Quest, and how I was planning to lead a group of people deep into the Tarkine rain forest in Tasmania in search of peace and serenity.
Disregard that entry.
It was… a silly idea.
In pitch black can’t see your hand in front of your face darkness, a passing Pademelon (think bouncing rat the size of a small dog) sounds much like a man running towards you. Add a pinch of fertile imagination and that man becomes a psychopathic knife wielding rage virus infected flesh eating winging pom bashing killah.
At approximately 2am on the third morning of the ritual I was huddled, terrified, in my soaking wet sleeping bag inside my soaking wet tent, listening to what sounded like the noise of fifty express trains rushing through the forest towards my tent as the cyclone (the cyclone? What fucking cyclone – no one told about the cyclone… Global warming is a myth right?) as the cyclone really kicked in. Giant Eucalyptus branches were being tossed around the jungle like so many KFC cartons from a speeding Norf London car and as yet another bouncy rat crashed its way past my miserable abode I shat myself.
It’s an amusing and somewhat overused expression to convey just how frightened someone is right?
I was recounting this story to a friend on my return and she actually said, “well, you got out of it alive right? And you didn’t shit yourself…” and I hesitated and thought, ‘no… no, that’s not strictly true but… I can’t tell her that.’
But you and I – I dunno, I feel we’re getting to know each other, there’s trust here and it just feels right to share… And in all honesty it wasn’t so much that I was terrified but more a victim of that great Australian sense of humour and the way they just LOVE to josh, saying things like, “yeah mate, of course you can drink the river water, the brown colour is just minerals, it’s totally pure.”
No. No it isn’t. It gives you the shits.
But granted, it may be a little too much information even for you but the point is, I’m huddled in the dark, on my own, hundreds of miles from anywhere, soaking wet, freezing cold, I haven’t eaten for days, I’m petrified, utterly miserable, I’m being taunted by giant spring-loaded rats…
And I’m sitting in my own poo.
And if you had happened to be a passing Pademelon you would have heard, over the sound of the tempest, a lone, plaintiff voice in the dark cry out, “Eli Eli lama sabachthani,” which roughly translates as, “you have GOT… to be fucking joking.”
An all time low.
But one of the perks of being a therapist is you get to turn everything into a metaphor, and even by my standards it’s a good’n.
Facing the fear!
Staying with the pain.
Sitting in the shit…
I wrote a whole chapter in my new book (did I mention I’ve got a new book?) anyway, in my NEW (soon to be published) BOOK Play From Your Fucking Heart I wrote a whole chapter titled How to Polish a Turd in which I expound the value of shit. It’s fertile. Pour it on things and it makes them grow.
Now there’s neither the time nor space here to go into just how powerful that experience was for me, how much I learned, how much I changed. But once again I’m gonna risk suggesting that what we need here is a radical shift in attitude. You keep (shaming and) medicating people when they’re down and you’re going to end up with a world full of zombies (you might ultimately even create a rage virus). We hurt, we suffer, we grieve, because we were designed to. It’s called… wait for it…
You take a pill, a drink, a smoke, to diminish these responses to painful situations – it works; the trouble is you diminish your experience of LIFE. Do you need to be fucked up to be an artist?
Do you need to be alive?
You need to be alive to whatever life throws at you.
I was talking to an incredibly gifted composer recently; he’s bored, he’s lost his mojo, he can’t get into the zone.
He’s been on anti depressants for the last two years.
Need I do the ‘math’ for you?
People need permission, and encouragement, to feel. To feel whatever… they feel.
So… Feel. Feel to create.
Just look out for the bouncy rats.
Published: March 4th, 2014