Monday, 5 November 2007

The Topsy-Turvy Man

The headstone of Major Peter Labelliere

Dorking , in Surrey , was home to a rather eccentric gentleman named Major Peter Labelliere who lived from 1726-1800 . He came to Dorking after a career in the Army and suffering possibly from unrequited love , this ' Walking Dung-Hill ' would often give away his coat or shoes to a poor man . Whilst meditating on Box Hill one day , he tripped and put out one of his eyes . He chose to be buried on Box Hill , upside down , because in his view 'as the world was topsy-turvy , he would be thus be right at last '. A large crowd attended his funeral and on the anniversary of his funeral , large numbers would visit his burial site to make merry .By coincidence , on a school trip to Box Hill my daughter became ill and had the rather unsettling experience of the world appearing to turn upside down . The sky was at the bottom and the ground at the top ! But what caused Major Labelliere to hold this strange world view ? Did his intuition and life experience tell him that the world was not quite right and we view life the wrong way up . That it is literally Topsy-Turvy .

Our instinct tells us to seek pleasure . In my case , I look to alcohol , sports , cigarettes ( not for too much longer as I hope someday I will stop smoking ), television , films, food and , don't tell everyone , sex . But is it actually pleasure that I am feeling when I indulge myself . Am I really enjoying myself or is it another sensation that I am experiencing ? I would suggest the feeling is closer to relief than enjoyment and the relief I feel is to escape the emotions inside me .These emotions include fear , anger , hate , boredom , love , guilt and other sundry feelings .I am sure I am not the only one who does this and would suggest that the whole world is in a state of denial from their emotions . The main characteristic that Adolf Hitler looked for in his lieutenants was a lack of empathy and feeling . But what are we / I attempting to run away from.

A peculiarity of illness is the sensation of being taken over by an outside force , but when patients are asked to describe this , they will often refer to the sickness as IT or just PAIN . Illness , as I understand it , is the body's attempt to heal itself but we see it as a threat to be fought and resisted but many patients describe that they are healed once they stopped fighting and let it do what it needs to do . Our emotions are the same - the more you resist them the stronger they seem to become , but once they are let out they are quickly dealt with . My submission is that we are trying to resist a positive force and what we call pleasure is our attempt to ignore it . Conversely , our efforts to resist the pain are counter - productive and in the long run will cause more problems . In effect , pleasure is pain and pain is pleasure .

Maybe the strange Major Labelliere was right and we do live in a Topsy-Turvy world !

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