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I wonder what games you used to play when you were a child?  Simple games, innocent games, spontaneous games?  Games that just passed away the time or which just amused you when had to go out walking even?

When I was a small boy (and yes I was once a boy even though admittedly it was a long time ago) I used to play a game where if you were walking along the street you were not allowed to tread on the cracks between the paving slabs.  At that age it was a game – nowadays of course it is called OCD. LOL.

Of course my feet were much smaller then and most of our pavements or sidewalks had large paving slabs and thus few cracks between them.

But every now and then you would come across a pavement/sidewalk with smaller paving stones and hence many more cracks to avoid.

To make it even more difficult every now and then you would come across something which we called “crazy paving”.  This was were lots of small irregular shaped paving slabs (normally made from lots of broken larger ones) were arranged in a casual pattern.  Avoiding the cracks in crazy paving was often nigh on impossible!

It was just a childhood game, possibly you played the same game or possibly you didn’t, and the fact is that other than that particular game when it came to cracks between the paving slabs no one really paid much attention to them at all really.

Of course sometimes paying attention to them was very important as often subsidence in the area would mean that the pavements/sidewalks became uneven and dangerous and could cause people to trip up or stumble.

Why am I mentioning this now?  Have I suddenly decided to take a degree in Civil Engineering?  LOL No not at all I am just responding to a thought that occurred to me earlier today whilst out having lunch with a couple of dear friends.

You see, broken pavements or sidewalks, make a pretty good metaphor for mental illness in life, don’t they?

Life is a journey.  One that we are not only meant to walk through but to walk through together and one which we are, when possible, I believe meant to enjoy.

But mental illness can make that journey uneven, maybe even a struggle and perhaps even perilous at times can’t it?

With mental health cracks start to appear on our journey – not only in our plans but also in our experiences.

In an attempt to stay upright and forward moving we do all we can to avoid stepping on the cracks that are appearing and don’t we even try to avoid showing others the cracks that have appeared and which we are ourselves experiencing?

Isn’t it true that they so often speak of damage, of being flawed, of imperfection to us?  Aren’t we so acutely aware that they can also speak of these things to others and damage or negatively impact the way others see us?

But hiding those cracks isn’t always possible is it?  Heck sometimes those cracks not only show up but even do so at the most inopportune moment and cause those around us to stumble and fall.

Sometimes we are forced to hide them because we know that if we do let them show someone is going to come along and use them for their own advantage or just to have fun at our expense –  playing hopscotch with our suffering if you like.

But I got to tell you, the more I think about my own mental illness, the more I look back on my own particular journey – even with all those trips and falls, hurts and upheavals – the more I am starting to see those ‘cracks’ in a different light.

Sometimes those cracks are the very things that make us so uniquely beautiful.  Varied. Different.  Non-uniform. Unpredictable.  Creative. Imaginative. Abstract.

Spend a morning, an afternoon, or an evening browsing through some of the many wonderful personal blogs there are out there written by bloggers who experience mental illness or poor mental health in its various forms.  See if at the end of it you too won’t consider yourself to have been blessed by having experienced just a little of the lives of so many beautiful, varied, different, non-uniform, unpredictable, creative, imaginative, abstract folk.

Can the cracks hurt?  Yes absolutely they can. Do they sometimes cause us – even others – to trip up, even stumble and fall?  Yes sadly they do.  Do they sometimes bring hardship and pain?  Yes, I won’t and can’t deny that they do.  Do I so very often wish to God they weren’t in my life?  Yes of course I do.

BUT are they (and everything to do with them) always such a terrible thing?  No not at all!  And what is more, I honestly thank God that every now and then out of those cracks blossoms a beautiful thing – even if the rest of the world fails to see, recognize, experience or know it’s beauty.

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