'The seas are quiet when the winds give o'er;
So calm are we when passions are no more.
Those opening lines from Edmund Waller's poem 'Old Age' came flooding back to me yesterday, as I sat with a friend of mine in the garden of The Western pub, here in the city of Leicester's West End district.
The friend in question is a beautiful woman from Iran, an asylum seeker who has walked through fire to seek a new life here in the UK. She is a person of great intellect, a fighter, just the kind of human being that deserves all our help, and I was truly humbled by her presence.
Those few hours I spent with her, were among the most emotional and worthwhile I've experienced in a long, long time and it made me think of my own battles with society, over thirty years ago when I entered the world of re-hab for the first time.
Of course my own experience was nothing compared top my friend's, but leaving my comfort zone of drink, drugs and loading others with blame, set me out on a cold, rocky path from which I could see no silver lining, no beacon of rescue, but onwards I went into a world of soberiety.
All of us carry some sort of baggage, and mine is depression which unzips and blankets me from time to time, but yesterday, being with her, the thin shroud of blackness I was experiencing prior to our meet, dissolved into the heat of the day.
Sometimes situations drive us to the mountaintop to look back from where we came, but for me, living in the present and the company of magnificent souls is another layer of protection against that which brings me to my knees. Thank you, my dear, dear friend.