Moises Henriques

“It is not the critic who counts; not the {one} who points out how the strong person stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better.

The credit belongs to the {one} who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; 

but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends {themselves} in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if they fail, at least fails while daring greatly.”

~ Theodore Roosevelt
{amended for inclusivity}

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I think, in the spirit of honesty, I should confess right now to something that might render me “un-Australian”:

I’ve never watched a full game of cricket.  Not even in the carb-sodden lull of Boxing Day.

I do remember my sister wagging school, catching the train into the MCG to watch a day-night match with her mates, but I’m pretty sure I was rehearsing for the inter-school musical that day. Or my recorder solo…

Either way, while I was donning black lycra in the world of the arts, Moises Henriques picked up a bat and ball that set him on a path that would take him around the world playing cricket.  He developed a loyal international following, captaining multiple teams and becoming an in-demand all-rounder.  His career went from strength to strength, with lucrative contracts, abundant opportunities and leadership roles coming his way.

And then, at the end of 2017, Moises reached a breaking point.  Increasing levels of fear of failure, pressure and worry about the future became overwhelming.  He publicly announced he was experiencing severe anxiety and depression and needed to step away from cricket to address his mental health.  The game he loved – and everything he had built his life around – was suddenly called into question.

Quiet Courage

Sportspeople, like performers, are trained to achieve their objective no matter the personal cost.  Phrases like “the show must go on”, “rise above”, “push through” and “break limits” are often worn as stoic badges of honour.

I believe one of the reasons we watch sport, musicians or shows is because we want to be lifted out of our everyday.  We understand how much training, sacrifice and dedication it takes to reach this level of greatness.  We want to see people step into an arena, elevate themselves and courageously fight for what they want – so we can experience it vicariously through them.

Performing in the public eye – whether it be on a stage, screen or stadium – brings with it incredible highs as our body creates extra energy to enable our performance. It can feel transcendent. But when the adrenaline ebbs, the crowds disperse or the director calls cut, any pain, pressure or worries can come crashing down like a tsunami.

And then there’s another type of courage – often quieter and less outwardly visible – that is made of something altogether different.  Softer and yet, in many ways, stronger: the courage to face ourselves in these moments with compassion.  To be with our limitations, vulnerabilities, fears, wild emotions, insecurities, losses and failures. A courage that is forged over and over inside the everyday moments: micro choices about what’s important to us, who we want to be and how we’re going to show up.  And with a healthy dose of irreverence to keep us in a wider perspective.

Who we are when the outward measures of success are stripped away?

 

Following his public announcement, Moises worked to prioritise his mental health as he had done his physical health for so many years. And after some time, with intensive therapy and support from those around him, he was able to return to cricket with a renewed perspective, purpose, and a realignment of his values.

“I struggled with knowing my worth outside of my role in work, and in feeling the pressure on my shoulders.  To have compassion for myself on the days I don’t achieve what I wanted to – or anything at all – is a huge challenge at times.

But I feel like what I’ve gone through has been the best thing that’s ever happened to me.  It’s made me trust myself more, I’m willing to say what I think now, to be really present with people and to focus on what’s truly important to me.”

Moises now speaks openly about his experiences and works to break down the stigma surrounding mental health, particularly for men.

“We tend to talk about injuries to our  physical health pretty openly, but now we need to start talking about our mental health in the same way.”

The people I’ve met who have found the courage to sit with these vulnerabilities are forever changed, strengthened and deepened.  The alchemical process of turning their lead into gold is visible in their eyes and way of being.  So while this former black lycra clad drama student still knows nothing about cricket, I do know when someone has journeyed to the depths and returned to show others the way. I wanted to capture some of this journey in our time together, and I’m grateful for Moises’ willingness to trust me in this process. Enjoy this peek into my portrait series with Moises Henriques,

PS. If you’re in need of mental health or crisis support within Australia, I’ve included some links at the bottom of this page.

Mental health support:

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