This paper comprises of responses to that I made over a period of time in discussions with friends and family about somethings that are important in and to life. Its called a dialogue because at the time my soul was in a dialogue with my mind about what is important.
(from notes to a friend)
Sometimes, I think that we fight to much to control, to contain, to balance and to do, when we should be allowing our creative energy to find its own level and its own outlet. Certainly, doing doesn’t follow clock time because clock time is one of the impediments that we have created to living. Clock time might help us compartmentalise our lives and our doings but it impedes the soul in accomplishing what it must – that of releasing our true selves from the layers of protection that have been placed upon us, often by ourselves in reaction to our fears.
Our passion is part of this process and a mechanism of the soul to find its vent. Yes, we may use the body to fool the mind or attempt to use the mind to confuse the soul but that can only be sustained for short time spans – maybe even a lifetime (which is but a short time in the immeasurable spectrum of life). The soul will eventually create the new beginnings that are as fundamental as life itself.
Affirmation is the food of the soul. Yet, affirmation is often misinterpreted as ego feed, so much is our fear of feeding the soul. Or might we say – so much are we afraid of our real self being exposed because we might not receive affirmation at all. This is why we use the mind to confuse the soul and the body to fool the mind, as if, such fooling were really possible. The soul always knows itself even when it is layered with the tiers of protection, dogma and indoctrination that we and others have heaped upon it over this lifetime’s journey.
What we refuse to or cannot recognise is that the soul has been there before, through our ancestors and the long lineage’s that make up all of our roots. Acknowledging this fact is the key that will unlock our potential, release us from the traps that we have built and provide the true routes to fulfilment that we yearn – not the temporary escape routes, that we so willingly create, in our endeavours to avoid real life and living.
(from notes to a friend)
There is an inner turmoil that it appears we are all going through related to coming to terms with ourselves. I think that it relates to measuring up to those that have gone before us, as if that matters. It causes every generation the same consternation yet, I think our generation is the first in decades, maybe even in a century who have less means with which to measure. Other generations had industrial change, depressions, wars, or even just the practical measure of achieving a livelihood, which was visible, tangible and ‘real’. What do we have but consumerism, material goods and lifestyle – none of which can be quantified in the same way.
Now consider the next generation. It is no wonder that they say they are the first generation to be worse off than the one before. They have no measures at all. More or bigger houses, cars or other consumer products make little sense. Careers are now illusive, short term at best if at all and business opportunities have been further removed from the practical and only accessible to those with the right ‘connections’. Many have tried educational paths but that has been found wanting, as it usually leads to only a continual circuit of more and more credentials but to what end.
The roots of our agitation come from identity or should I say the lack of it. So we wander and work, we spend and accumulate and learn and relearn in the hope that it will make us as good as those who went before. The reality is there is no need to compare nor in practical terms any method to do so – there is only ourselves. What we have to realise is that each of us is a unique and special individual that is the product or should I say a by-product of all that went before. And that is enough – just to be – who we are, how we are – at this point in time, knowing that each new experience will enhance our being just a little. That is also why there is no need to rush because life has its own course, which will run no matter our interference or resistance. It takes but faith to allow this to happen.
On Being Ourselves
(from a letter to my son Billy)
I was most pleased to get your mail, first because it is always good to hear from you and secondly for your affirmation. We are who we are because of everyone else, their influences good and bad all help to shape our thoughts our reactions. Yet, we are what we become because of who we really and truly are. This who, is shaped by the generations that have been before us, all of whom leave us some legacy. Unfortunately, it is the kind of legacy that can’t be seen, or touched but only felt. It is our feelings that really shape us and they are but ours alone. So Billy, whatever influence that I have had is but superficial to who you are and who you are becoming.
I was at a meeting last night and in a discussion afterwards with one woman I told her that I believe that all we need understand in this world is that our role is to leave a legacy for those coming behind that is positive. In other words not only prepare them for the life that they must lead but, also leave the world a little bit better for them to accomplish what we have maybe been able to ourselves – that is fulfil a fraction of the aspirations that we have. That requires some work because it means changing the things that have been impediments to our progress in order that those coming behind don’t have to address the same hurdles, different ones maybe but, not the same ones.
Maybe Billy, if we (those that share the same beliefs) keep plugging at what we do then some of you that are coming behind will not have the same challenges to address as us, but only those that you create for yourselves. The ones that we create ourselves are enough without having to deal with the ones our parents burden us with or should I say we take on because, I believe we think we must solve their dilemmas too – just as parents think that they have to solve the dilemmas of kids.
(from a letter to a friend)
The reason we feel that life is clogged is because we refuse or are afraid to go where it wants us to, maybe because, we don’t really understand where there is. All we know is that it is not here. You will know that from my letters of a month ago – that I have experienced the same feelings of life being ‘clogged’. The reality is I still don’t know what was ‘clogged’ but feel less so because I accepted that its meaning would unfold. The alternate is to resist the flow, reject what is and attempt to unclog what is not really ‘clogged’ at all – diverting ourselves from the real messages that somehow appear – seep in to our consciousness when we least expect it.
I was all to readily reminded of this last night when a call from a friend in Nfld. told me that another of my friends just died. Only 51 or 52 at that. I had spoken to her just before I left for India – the first time in a couple of years. She had expressed that her life was ‘clogged’ – wanted to move but just couldn’t seem to do it. Partly a good job with good pay but mostly, I think, entrapped by aloneness, afraid to join her son knowing that he would eventually move on, afraid to leave the job because it provided security and having no other family with which to associate or share.
I guess I am sharing this because I feel guilty that I didn’t keep in touch more, that maybe there was something I could have done but mostly because there are so many more people like Elizabeth for whom the aloneness is more fearful that death. And what can” one” person do in the midst of so much anguish and despair. Such a sad commentary on life in a world where community, where family, where friendship is considered a luxury, a luxury that we can’t really afford as a society, because there are some things (like jobs and stuff) more important.
I guess what I am trying to say, again with so many words, is that it is in the mundane that I have found real life, in the ‘clogged’ moments of my life the real wisdom and when life does become ‘unclogged’, and out of its normal boundaries, it is the mundane we seek for sanctity and security. For it is only in the flash, or exaggerated moments that life often provides (as the ‘clogging lets go’) that we appreciate the “mundane’.
Happy thoughts, rainbows of colour and sunshine that melts the snow to allow the mundaneness of green to pervade your life – providing comfort, clarity and peace.
Humanness – beyond the mind
(from a letter to my son)
First of all what one calls inner peace another might think is raging torment. Have you ever considered that the greatest peace that one gets is doing for others and the responses that one receives – some unwritten and some unspoken- often just a sense of gratitude that cannot be articulated. Sadly, many never experience such feelings, mainly because they are but feelings, and people don’t recognise them when they are experienced.
I know what happiness feels like and know that I will experience it many times in my life but also know that to expect it to be a continuum is but to defy reality and to stymie life. Best to do as much as we can, experience as much as we can be cause we are not going to avoid our death. If I lived to be 90 and found that I arrived at that age with so many unfulfilled desires, aspirations because I was afraid to try, unwilling to give or just kept trying to achieve a peaceful existence I would be so disappointed. All the little things of a lifetime of giving, sharing and doing make a big thing. Why continue to look for the big thing, instead be content with the little things and do as many as you can. Live each waking minute as if it were the last and you will have no regrets.
When I was in Ireland last fall at a conference an African man said that in his country they had a word “Abuutu” which described the difference between a human being and being human. In other words our humanness ( a special gift that no other species has – emotions, love, feelings) is our soul, our passion, our very being. Something that we often bury, disguise and hide. Something which often only surfaces when we experience our own traumas, when our passion won’t be constrained anymore and when our real self becomes exposed. Unfortunately too many bury it so deep and protect it so much that it never surfaces until it is too late.
That is where the faith comes in, because faith is but belief in life as bigger than all of us, a belief that we have all been given a gift that is ours to discover, if we search long and deep enough it will become apparent. I have found my gift and it is in the sharing and doing such little things for others as a phone call, a note on the email or a special thought sent to someone who needs a lift on a cloudy day. It is in the villages where I have found so many wonderful people who care not about my different thoughts but appreciate the feelings that I can easily share. I have a belief that someday you will find your gift and discover life in the friends that you have cultivated and continue to do so and the impact that you can have by caring for everyone no matter their disposition or demeanour or different thinking.
One final thought, what you will discover one day is that faith soul, and spirit are beyond the mind and can’t ever be just a mantle of our minds or even just a word but something that reaches to our very being – the humanness to which the man from Africa alluded.
Who Am I
(from notes to a friend)
Trying to describe oneself is most difficult – Who am I. When you ask me about myself I am unsure what to tell you. As Robert Burns said “wid some gift the giftie gie us to see ourselves as others see us”. I am always reticent to describe myself, always hesitant to write about my work and concerned that somehow people might misjudge who I really am by the descriptions that I paint of who I am and what I do. It is far better for others to decide that for them selves. I had always considered my self different in some way (and perhaps still do). I just don’t fit in.
Then a good friend told me about two years ago how he felt the same but as he got older he realised how similar he was to everyone else – and that made life easier. I am not sure that I have achieved that wisdom yet – and may never. One thing that living here in Scotland has taught me though is that I don’t really need to “fit” only just to be as I am and that is usually enough.
I have come to believe that most of our learning comes as a result of reflection, our interaction with others, and inherently, is within us all. Books sometimes assist this reflection but everything we need to know is within ourselves. We come pretty well equipped if only we knew. Unfortunately the instruction book was never written it has to be passed on by those that go before us. Our communications links are currently so bad that the passing on is diminished and often negligible and so we are left to sort it out for ourselves – as others have had to do in other times throughout history. To complicate things even further there is the normal and natural human resistance to listening (especially in youth) so messages are never accepted and reflection not possible. Experiential learning is not without its pain or should I say perceived pain. For does a rose feel pain as it unfolds in bloom – sometimes I wonder, more times I question and mostly I just am amazed – amazed at how life unfolds, despite our best efforts to restrain or control it, in ways we never could imagine.
I am not sure if this provides you any clue to who I am. As for me, I still am trying to uncover who I am and am never quite sure if each discovery is a new piece of the puzzle or if each discovery makes me something different than I was before. Such is the wonder of life, the challenge of living and the joy of ‘just being’. Because if we could ‘just be’ then we would remain the same and would never have to wonder who we are or even how people might perceive us. It is also the wonder of reflection because I think I just discovered another clue – to ‘just being’ and maybe have to contemplate more whether I want to ‘just be’.
Thanks for being curious, thanks for asking because it gave me reason to reflect, to think and discover.
Dancing – life’s music
(from notes to a friend)
What silly games our minds plays with us. When things are desperate we despair, when things begin to happen we attempt to slow it down, and when we begin to feel upbeat we look around the corner for the rain. At the same time, we neglect the sun that is shining and the roses that are bursting into bloom. Maybe deep down we are hoping for rain in order to catch sight of a rainbow to bestow upon us the fact that life is all right. Yet, in reality, if we look hard enough we will find rainbows around us all the time – our mind just disguises them with the contemplation of life’s challenges.
I wonder, is “doing” enough, or is even “being” enough – I might suggest the answer to both questions is nay. I think in order to “be” we must “do” – but it is in the balance of doing that we truly can “be”. I like to think about engagement – the “doing” as engaging life (the dance) and what it offers us. One of my thoughts suggests – that fate is where we end up when we aren’t open to destiny. Destiny is the engagement – taking the chances/opportunities that come our way and persevering through them in order to better understand who we are so that we can “be”.
Which leads me into the music that allows us to dance. I haven’t danced in a long time, haven’t heard the music or maybe, more importantly, won’t listen for it or hear it around me, such is my fear – of what – I still am not sure. And I do like to dance – even though I don’t know how – and have experienced flashes of it over the years. Maybe I haven’t been able to value myself enough to dance ( “just as I do” ), without the fear that maybe someone will perhaps use my lack of finesse to diminish me once again. I often think that it’s not the fact that we consider ourselves important that is the issue but, that we often don’t consider ourselves important enough. The arrogance that some people express is often fear rather than confidence and lack of self worth rather than value – and why some people attempt to diminish all those around them so they can feel important.
Oh the baggage that we struggle with just to be who we really are under the layers of protection that we create. How the spirit continues to attempt escape and often only does so in retreat, withdrawal or death. Such is the challenge of life – to “do”, to “be” yet keep in balance all the feelings that come from engaging fully in life – with all its follies, trepidation and anguish. But we must take time to smell the roses, admire their diversity of colours, witness the sunset and even feel the rain – all the things that provide the balance between “doing” and “being” and the positive feelings (life’s music) that are so much a part of the balance. We struggle to take the time to do these things because we spend so long engaging in life’s travails and not enough in its pleasures.
A Sense Of Peace – life’s sustenance
(from notes to a friend)
Recently I visited a friend who took me to visit an old Abbey (a ruins from about the eighth century). He described it as a place where he goes to meditate – and I would add perhaps to gain sustenance. The world is so lacking in time or space for us to get any such sustenance or should I say we lack the will to take the time and the appreciation of the spaces that could allow us the sustenance to get through the challenges that we create in life. He described this place as giving him a real sense of “place”. Traditional thinkers would describe community “as a sense of Place”. I am still not convinced of that but my friend gave me food for thought of the meaning of “this sense of place” an important concept to life.
This Abbey was built not far from one of the larger Standing Stone Circles in this area (there are many) and was supposed to have been located in an area with special energy. Maybe there is something to such thinking that there are places on the earth that allow us individually to connect to the greater power of existence. Maybe it is fundamental to feel this greater closeness- connectivity to life’s energy and it is why we tend to search because we don’t feel the closeness where we are. Maybe when we find such a place it will give us this “sense of place”.
Somehow I have always felt that whatever we are searching for is within. “Place” and “doing” only allows the feeling of comfort to drop the protective shields, that we all wear, to experience genuine connectivity. In my friend’s case this kind of environment tied to history, in particular monastic history, allows him the comfort of “being” – who he is and how he feels. But I think there is also timing – a timing which we cannot understand – not clock time at all but spiritual time. Further evidence of a “place”, “existence”, or an “understanding” that lies beyond the mind. The challenge then has to be getting beyond the mind – is that not the meaning of prayer and meditation – I wonder. Is not “the sense of place” for which we yearn only a “sense of peace”.
It is perhaps why our ancestors built churches to create “places” that allowed the comfort to get beyond the mind. It is maybe why we don’t necessarily get the same from the churches of today – they were constructed by others in a different time and we weren’t apart of the doing. Religions too have so trivialised “God” that its no wonder few today believe. And I guess we have all trivialised “place” in much the same way that it is difficult to feel “rooted” to anywhere. Then, we have so minimised ourselves that there is not even reason for “roots”.
I have come to believe that every place is a passing place even if we spend a lifetime there – what most miss is the opportunity to contribute as much as possible to wherever they are. It is in the contribution that the rewards become evident. I have thought a lot about rewards/wealth over the past while and how we value what we have – it certainly is not in the material. I recently said to a friend of mine – all we need to survive in this world is a few grains of rice and comfort – how many accumulate the rice expecting it to provide the comfort. The comfort comes from the contributions to others and their response.
Just a few stirrings of my creative self that has been on a journey somewhere for the last while, maybe foraging for some new insights to allow me a sense of “place”, a sense of “being” even a new way of “doing” to accomplish both.
Myth – life’s realities
(from notes to a friend)
The collective and volatile response to the death of Princess Diana certainly shows the real tragedy of modern day society – there appears such a vacuum in people’s lives that they have to look for fulfilment in tragedy. Not only the tragedy that was the accident but the tragedy of a life with such need and hollowness. The Princess and her family acknowledged this void and hunger. Her insecurity was such that nothing or no-one could ever fill it, of that I am sure, and I don’t mean that in a critical sense at all. Such a gap in fulfilment is endemic in our society, as the activities surrounding her death depicted. Diana was but a reflection of what so many others feel.
At a conference in Kentucky in 1991, I began my presentation with this observation – “when the myths have all been destroyed we will only have the reality to deal with“. As we wantonly destroy current myths, I am not sure people today are any better equipped to deal with life’s realities than our ancestors who created most of them. Thus we continue to create new legends around people like Diana and her life while at the same time attempting to destroy old traditions such as the Monarchy. Have we not done the same with religion – destroyed God and created myths around dogma, church and spiritual gurus (even Prince Charles has one). My real concern is the sustainability of such new myths like the fairy tale that was supposedly Diana (modern fairy tales have happy beginnings not endings). The sad fact is, that the basis of these modern legends lie not in soul at all but in flesh, not in spirit but in material and not in existence but in superficiality.
But, there can be no doubt, part of the responsibility for this emptiness we feel has to be apportioned to leadership or the lack thereof. Politicians, who only think to the next vote and how to milk every opportunity that comes along, media that exploit every happening, particularly tragic ones and people who so desperately need to belong that they gravitate to any event or excitement no matter its disparate nature.
The exploitation of Diana only truly began with her death as evidenced in the phenomenal amounts spent on flowers, the expanded publications of the media and the rush to market any and all things under the guise of the grief. And what of those in real need, who would appreciate just one flower, those who might flourish with only a simple kind remark, much less endless words and cards and those whose illness could be lessened by only a fraction of the costs that went into stage managing the whole event (police, bureaucrats, medics, etc.,). Do the millions on parade really care, do the billions who watched on television really see, more importantly do any of them feel anything but their own anguish played out by being a part of such sad events. I wonder!!
But, much of it is part of being human, being self and being as material as we have become in our society. For it is really only in the material that we relate – our bodies, our clothes and our trinkets while forgetting that beyond all of this lies the real self – the self that is beyond the mind’s ability to fathom only in the world of myth that is as old as time itself – perhaps is even time. I wonder who or what will assist people in getting back to the stability that this other world of myth provides – will it be another miracle or will it only be time itself as people recognise the necessity to have belief, to have faith to have a reason for “being”. Tragedy and life’s travails are but learning/growing opportunities, real learning – yet isn’t real learning beyond the mind.
Humility – life’s solution
(from notes to a friend)
The following is a response that I made to a friend who suggested that while I articulate very clearly the issues of our generation in my writing I need be bold, be prescriptive and offer solutions. But, even doctors are now beginning to question their prescriptions………….
I think that we are much to caught up in solutions – is there really a solution to life or is it just to be lived. How do we instruct people to feel, sense, trust or appreciate a sixth sense when, as you said in your note, we all feel guilty about taking an hour to see, feel or to share – in other words feel guilty about taking time for ourselves. The manual for life and living can’t be written only lived. It is in the living, by way of example that we can have the greatest influence. And that I attempt in my work and my being. I think that is the message of Nelson Mandela in his inaugural speech – power is in humility, in being who you are. Prince Charles said, during his recent visit to South Africa, he has never met anyone more forgiving than Mandela, despite all that he has been through.
So, far from being bold and offering solutions, my aim is to be humble, to not have ambition, but to aspire to be all that I can in spite of my follies, fears and inadequacies. Say that to a group of driven bureaucrats (as I have) and they really set out to knock the pins from under you. We have created a generation, or two, of people driven to own, control and accumulate and to fear those without the same ambitions.
I like nice things, accumulate as much as most but have moved towards, over the past few years, appreciating the things that I always considered my weaknesses, like my sensitivity, my intellect, my compassion and most of all my gift of seeing the world a little different than most. I don’t conform, never did, perhaps can’t and realise now that it matters not. I am me with all the warts, idiosyncrasies and deficiencies that go with the package.
No, unfortunately I haven’t found a solution to my life and its vagaries but I do know that it is partially in dance the dance you describe as “people who really do want and need to feel a physical and spiritual connection to another person that is not sexual”. There is no solution, only a search to connect with someone or others who feel the same music that you do – no matter how discordant the notes. Then, I believe, the dance of life begins. Much of our life’s dilemmas and traumas come from the attention we pay to the noise of the mind while ignoring the music of the soul.
Happy thoughts of sunshine, rainbows and roses
(from notes to a friend)
I am beginning to contemplate where too next, as I feel, the time for moving is nigh – at least by the end of this year. Where that is I am not sure. I thought that going back to Canada might provide some clues but nothing apparent. I still need to reflect on my visit – including returning to Newfoundland. It was interesting and a contrast to my last visit in 1994 – much less of an emotional experience and a feeling of having left. In fact, Halifax appeared much more like home. I was actually received there with some warmth. As I said, much to contemplate, or should I say, much for my soul to reflect upon. The long road back is something that we must all experience at some juncture in life.
I did get some glimmers though – for my next article, for my own life and perhaps some little insight into the music of life, which I now believe is to be found in the silence of stillness. It is in this silence that we connect with ourselves and with the world of the soul (God to some). It is strange how we create such noise to deflect ourselves from the quiet yet, how some music can be the vehicle to lead us to the silence. But, such music often comes from the anguish that others feel/experience. Much modern music tends to only be noise though, as the young are wont to avoid the silence out of fear, naivety or disrespect for life and all it means. I believe all generations go though this phase.
Would it only be that we were born of wisdom rather than naivety – sadly though we would then miss the magic of life, the lessons of experience and the reality of being. The path to wisdom is littered with the discards of misdirected efforts. How much gentler we could have been on ourselves if we had only visited the silence of stillness and connected with the music of life rather than creating noises to deflect the quiet. How much deeper our experiences might have been if we had paid some attention to the elders who had walked the same road before us accumulating their wisdom in the same way. But, then how little wisdom we might have retained had we found a short cut though the noise of living to the silence of being – missing all the dances that the artificial music necessitated.
(from notes to a friend)
Contemplating search for direction is as fruitless as contemplating choice. Direction evolves and our only choice is whether we are opened or closed to what life offers. The problem is when we are closed we don’t see, because what life offers is around us always. Just as is the sunshine and rainbows (they are always there yet not always visible). So just be open and the direction will appear.
Does conditioning hinder our inateness or does it just masquerade it? Rather, is not fear the greater motivator of our actions?. We are all alike but with different fears that are often reflected in the connections that we make. Like other energy, the more the fear is similar the greater the repulsion the more the fears are different the greater the attraction. Ultimate attraction often ends in abuse, such is the need to balance the reflection(differences), or said in a different way, such is the fear of the other’s differences (power). Ultimately, our real selves, ensconced within our souls, will out – no matter the conditioning or fear, even if it means accepting death as the escape.
Interestingly enough, Vaclav Havel (Czech President) in his letters from prison suggested that we only see form because of the horizon. In other words, we are only visible because of the background in which we can frame things. This suggests form is only perception. We can see the ocean in its entirety but at its minutest part it becomes invisible.
Have you ever seen a person who wasn’t whole (all in one piece and alive) even if they have had pieces removed? The whole is important only because of the interconnectivity of all the bits connected by what we ultimately can’t ever see. This is the connectivity which is important like the senses we can’t envision only believe. It is why physical is less important than the spiritual. Spiritual connections are amongst life’s most powerful and joyful and are, perhaps the scarcest, because of our unwillingness to “let go”, to “be open” or to “trust” (most often ourselves).
Living life means first of all accepting life, just as it is. Our struggle comes from our attempts to fit ourselves into a life which we have perceived or fit our perception of who we are into life. Our real dilemma is not who we are, but who we perceive ourselves to be – Burn’s said of course “ wad some gift the giftie gie us to see ourselves as other see us.” If we believed that we were all perfect when we were born, that life was perfect then imagine the difference it would make. But, that would require faith in a power greater than ourselves that “designed all this” – faith in life as perfect, no matter our status, looks or handicaps.
I believe that it is not life that is the issue but how we perceive that it should be. Life is interesting, but never confusing – it is just life.
Just a few random thoughts to add to the muddle that we all create around our lives, fearing, of course, to live it to its fullest – just as it is.
The Possible – life’s magic
(from notes to a friend)
Just a thought, after another long day – a reflection on “magic” and “abundance”………….
I guess magic is what keeps me going and keeps me in the work that I do. The magic of watching people as they open their minds to the possible, their thoughts to the practical and their spirits to the wonderful – the wonderful creations that come from being open to dreams, the pragmatism of doing and the delights of achieving. By achieving I don’t mean the competitive kind, but the sharing kind, the kind that allows the joys of transference, of support and complementary actions.
I guess my “problem” or should I say my “aspiration” is for a world where there is balance, where all that is possible is available to everyone. A world, where we have forgotten the mindset of scarcity and opened ourselves to the concept of abundance. Because, there is such abundance around us of material things, of natural things, of happy things and, most importantly of all, of loving things. We need never despair about not enough only ponder how we might share the abundance that we have.
But, on days like today I need be reminded of the “magic” of life, of spirit and of self – and you, my friend, have done that for me today.
Thanks for the sharing, the kindness and thoughtfulness. You have given me today a wonderful “magic’ gift of a reminder – of how very fortunate I am and have been to have friends who share and special people who care. As a friend whom I visited when I was in Halifax at Christmas and with whom I was sharing my Indian pictures remarked to me – Bill, you are the richest person that I know. And, I have been reminded of that on many occasions over the past few years. Being rich is only beneficial when you share the abundance. I appreciate you sharing your abundance.
Imagery – life’s folly
(from notes to a friend )
Once again I am experiencing another of life’s shifts, a shift of which I have been aware for over a year. A shift from what or to where, which I still don’t understand. But, it is significant – of that I am sure. When you go through a series of transitions, some of them minor others major, as I have over the past few years, you become aware of the feelings, the emotions and the effect of such transformations. This particular alteration has been longer, more subtle and obviously, will be significant. But, then that is my perception at this point.
But, volcanoes do the same, start with small vibrations, erupting, then settling down until the next eruption. Earthquakes are similar, as the plates of the earth shift, the ground moves and shakes then recedes until the plates are once again moved by the earth’s internal workings.. Why should our lives be different. Each change, each move no less significant than the pent up release of a volcano or the shifting plates of the earth. What is similar is that the landscape of the earth and life are different after each such contortion.
The agitation and emotions, which I have experienced of recent days, have been evidence of major shifts, perhaps of letting go, of moving on or new awareness – of which I am not sure.
I used to say that I moved to Halifax to find myself and then came to Scotland to find beyond myself – and that is true. But, what I have come to understand is that my move to Halifax to find myself resulted in my discovering God (in a spiritual sense), then the move to Scotland perhaps to find God allowed my discovery of self. What I have really come to appreciate, most of all, is that they are one and the same.
Soul is soul and there is only one, all the rest is but imagery. I imagine thus I become. Yet, we can never be anything other than who we are, no matter how vivid our imagination. Because, imagination is but only that, imagination and not real at all. Is not such a characteristic as ego just imagination and why, ultimately, it is of so little importance. To be in tune with the soul is the first step to acceptance. To transcend to soul is perfection – and why it takes a lifetime to accomplish. The journey to transcendence is but life, a life to be lived, experienced and enjoyed – no matter the difficulties or dilemmas we experience.
My life’s journey is much too serious yet, in comparison to others, has been such an easy ride. My friend, thanks for the laughter, for me, it is the most difficult thing to accomplish – to smile, to laugh or to jest. But, I do know that buried deep within, is all the frolic and laughter that others express so freely. Maybe, when I have uncovered all the seriousness I will find the levity – just buried below waiting to be shared with the world. Now that would be a treat.
Fondest thoughts and happy moments amongst the turmoil and torment of workplace and offices everywhere today. Just “imagine” if all these people could appreciate the absurdity of their seriousness and realise how surreal that this journey really is. Then, maybe the laughter would return and folly would once again be appreciated. Because, without fun and folly life is but a meaningless journey to nowhere – the place to which we all will eventually journey in order to find the new beginning that we all seek.
Listening – life’s challenge
(from notes to a friend )
I realise that I have to pull back and look at what I am doing, somehow, as life is not meant to be as difficult. When it is as arduous, it means we are swimming against the tide. Sometimes we need to swim against the tide to shift to somewhere calm, perhaps to seek a new dimension and have a fresh look at life and its direction. But, if we are having to continually swim against life’s current something is wrong with the direction we have chosen. If we continue in this pattern for too long, obviously, we will expire from the exhaustion of trying to do what is not necessary and perhaps not what we are meant to do.
I think, my friend, that maybe you are working too hard as well. Maybe you are trying to do too many things, perhaps trying to be what you are not supposed to be. That’s where anxiety, flatness and even depression helps out. They are the signs that we have reached an impasse in our lives and need step back. Instead of fighting this anxiety and flatness, let it happen, feel the feelings and you will discover the cause. This is what I referred to in my last note (Imagery) in the analogy with volcanoes and earthquakes. Just think about them in the context of what they allows the earth – release from pent up pressures. We need similar kinds of release. Our volcanoes appear as emotional outbursts such as anger or euphoria with the lava flows appearing in the mode of tears. Our earthquakes arise in the anxiety of depression which pull us down until we take notice and shift from where we are to a new dimension (calm) and resultantly, we are forced to take the time to reflect. Why we resist all these natural things are a mystery, but perhaps not, as we are so disconnected from our souls/spirits, and have been for so long, we no longer understand what the soul/spirit is and its purpose. Soul has been relegated to religious dogma and spirit is a thing that often needs to be created, uplifted or improved.
I was sitting watching my coal fire on Saturday night contemplating life, as I am wont to do, at times. My reflections were especially on my thoughts of silence. I realised that the only silence in life is in death and why perhaps we are so terrified of the quiet, thinking it is the same as silence. In actual fact, there can never be silence (even if every other noise was excluded we would hear our heart beating) and the soul knows that and why it encourages us to make motion which results in noise (music, in a real sense in whatever form).
So my friend, listen intently to the quiet and you will capture the noise (music) that will push you forward into the dimension life wants to take you. The first step is to give into the anxiety and flatness (and that requires faith) and allow it to take you to the calm for there you will find the music which will lead to the understanding of what you must do or where you must go. Most importantly don’t listen with your ears, look with your eyes or contemplate with you mind – appreciate the soul’s ability to do all these things in a manner that we don’t understand. But, when the music appears and as the message wrapped around the music becomes evident you will know and a new understanding will be part of who you are. An understanding that is yours alone just as my awareness of silence emerged.
Wishing you rainbows of colour to brighten the soul and lighten the dark corners of the mind where fear and ego dance their dances in the shadows of the soul.
Ideology – life’s tragedy
(from notes to a friend)
Vaclav Havel writes much about idealism and its necessity yet, recognises ideology for the trap that it is. And, we in the west have fallen into the same ideological trap as the supposedly less “democratic” countries. The sad fact is, that we are slow to recognise it and loathe to accept it. Even sadder is how we have bought into (and rapidly emulate everywhere) the American form of ideology that creates the myth of greatness – the greatest country in the world, the most powerful leader and the only place of real freedom.
Yet, when we view and hear the media of the latest tragedy in Arkansas, we see the results of the false world of ideology. Two young lads are not only robbed of their innocence, their childhood but their very beings, a tragedy perhaps, even sadder than the young people whom they killed, who at least, have only been robbed of their physical lives. The punishment of course has been and will be upon the heads of the children – never the adults, the leaders or the “voters”, who continue to perpetuate a system so debased and corrupt that it encourages the kind of vengeance that has been displayed in this particular incidence.
What is one to do? I wonder?
In my travels and my work I witness similar vindictiveness by adults every day. People who continually manipulate, bait and take great relish in causing others despair ( and everyone sees this every day in their work and their social lives). Some would say, but that is different than cold blooded murder, these are only the games of people looking for prestige, advantage, or control. The difference though is only by degree. How are young people at 10 or 11 supposed to understand the degree. Is not vindictiveness just that!
The real difference, is perhaps, that it can be written off to ideology. Indeed this is the system, the way things work, what is expected and what people do naturally. But then, my real question is – is it – or is it something more sinister such as the spite of a hurt, dejected person who retaliates in the only way they know how. Is that not the real message of these kids? They didn’t know how to act, so they retaliated in ways they have seen, the examples that have been set and what they have witnessed( especially in the electronic media).
Thus the need for idealism, for harmony and for something not tainted by ideology.
And what is that you may ask? I guess the answer lies in the daffodils which fill the fields, the roadsides and roundabouts in great abundance. The true sign that is rebirth. An indication of a new beginning and a brightness only rivalled by the sun itself. A sense that there is something greater, which can rejuvenate life and sweep aside all the effects of misplaced ideology and replace it with a idealistic world that has no bounds. This is the very world which surrounds us, despite the tragedy and heartache with which so many have to contend. It is a world which is just within our grasp, unfolding every day with a new ideal (first the crocuses, then the daffodils, next the bright yellow rapeseed flowers then to be followed by the roses – these ideals enriched by sunshine and rainbows).
No, unfortunately we won’t find this world in the realm of politics, of voting or of business (all which fall into the domain of ego). But, we will discover similar ideals in the world of softness, kindness and care (all evident in the field of love). Love is the aspect of life we fear the most. Why, I am still not sure, perhaps, we feel it is a more arduous road than the others It is easier to follow the crowd, no matter where they go, than to travel a road which is shrouded in mist. This is the mist of idealism, which is perhaps just a “foggy” notion and not real at all.
So, I must remember to take more time to revel in the daffodils, to relish this years rebirth and focus my love, my care and forgiveness on those two young boys, and all the others, who have such an arduous road ahead. What a different path they would have had, if society (there still is one) had only thought enough of the example it was setting, of the care it was giving or of the idealism of love that has been the message of all true prophets since time began.
Some contemplation’s of the soul, a soul much anguished today, not so much by this tragedy of so far away, as by the despair that I have witnessed in my own life today. But, I do have the daffodils of spring and the idealism of belief that reinforces my appreciation of the good in humanness and the genuine pleasures of the world and life.
Why – life’s ultimate question
(from notes to a friend)
“We need consider why we came into each other’s lives?” Why shouldn’t we? After all, you have been asking, why all the special moments, since you experienced them, while at the time, they just happened. I perhaps should ask “why” the question made you ponder. I wrote the note as I do most things without really thinking.
I can provide at least two reasons – but then again – they are just thoughts. Two adages suggest that “everyone comes into our lives for a reason” and “when the student is ready the teacher will appear”. Since we are all students and teachers we all come into each others lives so that we can learn from each other. If we consider “why” we may better understand ourselves, what we need to know, what we need to learn and then perhaps better appreciate who we are and the life that we have.
But, all questions come from beyond thought. Thought is the only mechanism that we have to try and put into context or perspective life and all that it entails. It is such an inadequate tool and creates such complex patterns of what is so simple. Reflect on your visit, were any of the “precious moments” thoughts, or based on thought, or were they just “precious moments” that happened without having at all to be considered except after they happened.
That is why ”why” is life’s ultimate question, the answer to which is simple, but which becomes so complex when our minds attempt to contemplate the many parameters of what is “why”. “Why” in truth answers itself – always.
Friendship – life’s gift
(from notes to a friend)
I want to share this note that I sent to a friend this morning who was apologising for not measuring up, apologising for not making a contribution to the evolution of my thinking, and being too involved in her own life. She said she treasured my friendship but was concerned she was letting me down……………
Never worry about measuring up, especially to my musings as they are just that. I am never sure that I fully comprehend what they mean at the time I write them. The writing helps put form to feelings and thought to what is unknown. Funny that, how we think, that if we can put words or thoughts around what we feel, we will understand. The understanding usually follows when we accept that there are many things that we will never comprehend. The understanding only comes with acceptance.
I do appreciate your friendship and knowing that you are there. That is more than enough. Imagine if all the people in the world who feel/are marginalised in some way or alone, only knew that someone was “there” and was their “friend” what a difference that would make in the world. That is the greatest gift that one can give is to be there – even when – we don’t know why.
Thank you for being there, for being my friend – for such a long time – when all that I have to offer in return is strange musings.
………….. perhaps a fitting tribute to all my wonderful friends. I am such a privileged individual to have so many.
Fairness – life’s mystery
(from notes to a friend)
I am intrigued that you think that life is unfair. If we contemplate nature, how could we suggest that there is any unfairness. Certainly, there are things that are happening in the overall environment, or to people at a specific point in time that seem unfair. But, in the overall scheme of life and living, of which, we so little comprehend, it is all fair. Perhaps, each piece has a degree of seemingly unfairness attached to it.
As for fostering lost spirits and the drain on your energy, we all have our share of that exercise. I am learning, as time passes, the real wisdom in my friend, Ian Taylor’s notes called The Secret of Life which says: Cure a little; Alleviate a lot; Comfort always. We need not take on other’s anguish of living, as we can’t, even with the sincerest of intentions, cure it. Neither, can we alleviate all their suffering, only a little of it. But, we can give comfort, the only delimiter is that if we attempt to cure or alleviate all things unfair, we will have little energy left with which to provide comfort. It is better that we conserve the bulk of our energy to comfort. This requires so little exertion, that it is practically limitless how much we can supply.
Remember, that there is lightness in abundance around us – just look. The weight comes from our unwillingness to raise ourselves in the dark, and thus we imagine there is no light. In the dark, of course, everywhere leads to nowhere because we are afraid to move. Isn’t it a fact, that in the light everywhere leads to somewhere else, even if it is only to the next rose, so that we can savour its fragrance and beauty.
One last note. When all appears dark, just keep moving, ever so slowly – the light will appear – in its own time.
Insecurity – life’s shadow
Once again this week I had to face my insecurities, the thoughts that somehow life is not supposed to be good and when it is, what is it that will happen to spoil the current sense of comfort. These clouds appear in various forms to blank out the sun, masquerade the light and create the shadows of fear that form the basis for life’s insecurities. This resulting greyness often becomes pervasive and frequently leads to deep and threatening darkness, the very darkness that is night itself.
What causes such insecurity, when one has modern comfort, an income and so many of the frivolous things of a consumerist society? What arrogance one has to have even to experience these thoughts when so many in the world face real despair, poverty and anguish beyond even our imaginations. Yet, these thoughts appear and are relentless in their pursuit of discontent and unhappiness and are intent to build barriers to those who are a part of the comfort. These thoughts help diminish the very things that really count in this life like individual fulfilment and collective harmony.
But, in order to understand such insecurity, we have to explore its roots and we will find their basis in thought, the logic of life that would discount the basis of warm comfortable feelings which are elementary to the balance that is life itself. What we discover, of course, is the fact that these thoughts have their foundation in the things that we felt lacking in our early lives, such as, lack of support, of confidence and of love. Perhaps, more fundamentally, the greatest lack is love or what we have perceived love to be – something that someone has to give to us. What we miss is the truth, that real love has its basis in sharing, real sharing, the kind of sharing that, just is, without one thought of why we are sharing.
Thus we travel through life looking for the “things” that we had thought were missing from our lives. So ingrained do these thoughts become that we eventually take them on as part of who we are and, by so doing, begin the unending search for the missing components of our lives. Life becomes driven by a thought process, which today, is further encouraged by a consumerist world where we are what we possess and if we lack, then we somehow are less than whole. Yet, all the time we miss the value of the real elements that combine to make us who we are, like our kindness, our sincerity and our gentleness. In our “modern” world these things are signs of weakness, whereas, the real values are in possessions, in personal achievement and in profile. Without these we are unknowns, less worthy and not complete.
What we must eventually realise is that, thought is just the lack of knowing. Knowing is beyond thought and just is. We might compare our sense of insecurity to our basic unease of the darkness of night (why so much is spent on lighting). We know that the sun still shines even though we cannot see it, it is just beyond the horizon and bright and shiny as if it were visible to us. Yet, most experience some sense of foreboding in the darkness of night. Insecurities emanate from a similar place and relate to our lack of knowing, what is the answer to whatever the question that is being posed to our minds. Sometimes the questions are not even ours, but the result of information that we have somehow accrued belonging to others. Yet we worry, and fret, we surmise and calculate and then evaluate and conclude. The conclusions are, most often, of little use and the results of our conclusions of little help in the resolution of whatever the worry was that started the whole process.
Eventually, the insecurity passes and life continues with the only disruption being to those whom we inflicted with our feelings that resulted from the thoughts of insecurity. The reality is the feelings have no relevance to the thoughts and the insecurities make little sense at all to those who have had to deal with them. We must realise that they are only thoughts, not real, and the feelings are only effects, not real feelings at all, generated by the perceived “lacks” that we have carried with us for so many years. Until we are ready to admit the artificial nature of our “lacks” then the insecurities will persist and diminish the sunshine that keeps trying to enter into our lives.
Tears – life’s release
I shed a tear today, in fact, I cried a lot. My tears were for the marginalised, disadvantaged all those who experience despair. They were, perhaps as well, for my own inadequacies in influencing the systems that create such disparities. How deeply I relate to such feelings in my own aloneness/loneliness. The tears were not of sadness but of release in knowing that there are others who share the same feelings and others who have experienced life’s anguish.
I had experience this morning to bear witness to two stories as different as could be but as alike as possible. One was of foreign domination the other of family alienation, one of educational wealth the other of educational deprivation both the results of colonisation and subjugation. Colonisation at its roots is more than possession and ownership but of cultural alienation and is not only the experience of those who have been dominated by foreigners but those who have felt the sting of rejection from their own. The results were the same a sense of loss, of not fitting and of the need to make amends to all those who follow behind. Then there was the expressed need to make life better for others, to contribute and to some how compensate for the perceived inadequacies of those who went before. I related to both and knew that I was a part of something, that I am yet to understand. Were we kindred spirits, marginalised minorities or just lonely people adrift in a world where the fit was non existent?
I listened to the words of wisdom offered years ago by a Bishop to a person, who at the time, was depressed at the state of his own people as a result of government and church colonisation, both done under the guise of good and God. Advice that suggested that the answer, as to why this happened, lay in an understanding that would come with age and one’s own responsibility. The guidance suggested that when one became responsible for others the key was to look for the spark and with gentle breath kindle the glow of life. It was inferred that spark was a sign of leadership and leadership was so important to societal development.
I thought about this as the morning wore on and the tears flowed. I wondered, were the only people with worth those that had a visible spark, who could glow with a gentle breath of air and lead the others to some promised glory. Or, if indeed, did everyone, even those whose spark was so weakened that it was not visible deserve the gentle touch of a breath of kindness. Do we have to have in a society the elite who lead the rest? Or, should we strive for an ideal equality where everyone has opportunity to have their spark kindled, their brightness amplified and their flame enlivened. Do we really need to relegate those, who are somehow diminished, to the backwater of despair, drive them from society and erase them from our conscious memory. All this because we need to demonstrate our state of egalitarianism and our societal advancement. Is this not the reason why historically all supposedly advanced societies collapsed?
What price will we pay if we continue on this path started a few centuries ago, a path of repression, cleansing and deprivation. We condemn it in the modern world when others blatantly practice it, but we refuse to recognise our more historically refined and subtler methods. I witnessed two individuals this morning struggling with their price. I have felt the experience in my own life. And, I felt the wrath of another this afternoon as my car was wilfully damaged by another less fortunate, deprived, and perhaps depraved individual. This is a small price for me to pay for someone else’s despair but a microcosm of a societal dividend that we can expect if we don’t face the rot of marginalisation that is growing by the day locally, nationally and internationally. Increasingly, stringent barriers are being erected between the have and have-nots of the world. But, we must always remember there is more of the latter and their deprivation will eventually cause rebellion. I wonder, as money and consumerism are failing as weapons of repression are the elites reverting to deprivation of education (or what is termed education) as the new control mechanism.
Yes, I shed a tear today and cried a lot for a world of so much plenty assigned to an elite few, who for reasons of arrogance and fear, continue to hoard and control, as if in the end, it would make a difference to themselves. The tears were a cleansing of course, of my own arrogance of plenty that I have experienced and of my own rebellion towards those that have tried and would marginalise me. And today perhaps, for the first time, I realised that tears are life’s cleansing solution to rinse the bitterness and despair from the soul, just as the rain washes away the refuge and blight from the earth, making way for and nurturing the new growth that is hidden just underneath the old, worn and unnecessary.
Reality – life’s truth
(from notes to a friend)
I was delighted to hear from you, as I have been quite neglectful of late, as my work load is expanding, even as I attempt to curtail it. I am perhaps, a product of what you refer to in your notes or should I say my ideals are such a product (we wish to increase the goodness of ideals,… as belief in the ideal grows, the ideal has the possibility of becoming a reality,… but only if everybody joins in – whether willingly or not). That is why I must leave because others may begin to believe, will want to join and in time expect me to lead. It is at that juncture when it is time to shift.
An ideal is a good thing, as is a sweet note. The sad fact is, that we do try and increase the goodness, stretch the ideal (or note) and it eventually breaks. It is perhaps why silence is so important and knowing how far a note can stretch in the silence to reach its optimum is an imperative for those who create music. What we should do, of course, is seek new ideals, new notes to create new concepts and new music. Imagine, if we were to only ever have one musically note, and kept stretching it to make music that everyone would appreciate. What would be worse, would be an attempt to get everyone to appreciate the same note and the same music.
It is when the belief in ideal begins to gain acceptance that ideology takes over and power seekers step in to persuade and coerce all and sundry that they have discovered a secret formula, program or system that will make the good ideal perfect and, as such, life itself “better”. There is always the expectation that an ideal can become real, instead of just being an ideal, something to which one might aspire but never achieve. Ideals are in essence hope and it is only in the ideal that there can be hope never in the reality because reality just is. It is why we have created myth to articulate the ideal (the hope) in order not to deal with the reality. The truth is that ideals, and in essence, hope must be illusive and challenging in order for us to grow and for there to be life.
An ideal must always stand alone because reality is perfection and an ideal is something different ( perhaps a different perfection). Because we refuse to accept reality we keep searching for ideals and continually make the mistake that an ideal can be reality. The mistake is amplified because so many people either buy into or are persuaded or coerced to participate in achieving the ideal or some semblance of it. In essence, we try to improve on the ideal – make a good thing better – without recognising its limits in the silence of reality. We forget to look for the new ideals (new hope) those that will compliment the others just as a musician seeks new notes to compliment the ones he’s discovered, in order to make a new musical piece. With ideals, we are reminded of reality each time an ideal explodes, as it is stretched beyond its ability to provide hope.
God created ideals (and hope) to ensure stretch, movement and life. Achievement is only the movement and music the sound of the stretch and nothing else. Reality is always there, always silent and completely still. Because, in “reality”, there is only stillness; no movement, no stretch and no growth. Is that not why, we are so afraid of reality?
All human activity is connected as we are all connected. Connectivity just is – reality. Reality is the natural and silent connection that binds us all – this is life. Indeed, it is quite simple. What is complex is what we create.