Thursday, 16 December 2010

The Importance of Being Idle

I awake sometimes with the irresistable urge to be just for the sake of being. I rarely do something so frivolous because I like to flatter myself that I’m a writer, which of course, I am not. After all, writers write. That is their nature. But it is not my nature. My nature is to drink coffee, smoke fags, and pamper myself with the soft furnishings of native raw potential. It has always been this way.

I can paint. I can write. I can compose music, and I can play a mean blues guitar. I can turn my hand to pretty much any kind of job you can conceive of, as long as it doesn’t involve heavy lifting. I just choose not to.


Sometimes I wonder about this. Is it because I am afraid of failure that I don’t indulge my talents? Is it because I fear rejection in the eyes of the world? Or is it because I just can’t be bothered?

I think it’s the last one, if I’m honest. I’m a lazy sod, if you want the truth. I don’t really feel the need to do anything.

Why is this? Most people are driven to make something of themselves, to be a success in the eyes of their peers; to own a house or a car or a business; to write a book or to win the Derby. Why not I?

I think the answer is that I’m happy. Happiness takes away the reason to do all this stuff. Maybe that’s why, in our society, it is frowned upon to be happy with who you are and what you’ve got. The whole economy would break down if everyone was happy. Nobody would buy any weapons. My God, where would we be then? Civilisation as we know it would cease to exist. Nobody would ever get anything done.

But there is virtue in idleness. (That’s idleness, not idolatry.) Racing to and fro and trying to achieve things and earn as much money and status as you can before you die and are forgotten about instantly and forever is doubtless very important for the evolution of the human species as a whole – it must be; we’ve had it drummed into us since the day we were born – but somebody has to sit down now and again, take an objective look at it all and ask: “What are we evolving into? Are we evolving at all? Is there even anything to evolve? Or are we just going round and round on the endless merry-go-round of apparent reality?”

That somebody is me.


“I am happiest when I am idle. I could live for months without performing any kind of labour, and at the expiration of that time I should feel fresh and vigorous enough to go right on in the same way for numerous more months.” – Artemus Ward

“Idleness is not doing nothing. Idleness is being free to do anything.” – Floyd Dell

“The perfect man does nothing. The sage takes no action.” – Chuang Tse


Saturday, 11 December 2010

I’m not Seeking Anything: I’m Just Having a Look

The first true spiritual experience I had (that I remember) came about after an industrial quantity of LSD when I saw and felt for the first time that – to quote Bill W – “a mighty purpose and rhythm underlay all.”

It totally changed my perception of life, the universe, and my place in it, but over time - as so often happens - as the experience faded and different experiences came and went, my habitual delusions about the way things are began to reassert themselves.

And my habitual delusions about the way things are run a bit like this: “Why has this happened to me? This is all wrong. Life shouldn’t be this way. You should be a bit less like you and a bit more like me. Fucking people. This is shit.”

And so on, and so forth.

All that resentment and wrong thinking is a definite block to spiritual awakening, or indeed, to a remotely happy existence. That’s why I don’t have a whole lot of time for uptight hippies, no matter how much mantra they chant, or for religious maniacs who think the rest of the world are dangerous heathens to be converted at all costs.

I’ve learnt since that if I think I know anything, I have effectively closed myself off to reality, which changes faster than I can keep up with it, and if I am blocking myself off from reality I am blocking myself off from God, because they are the same.

My self-righteousness, anger, resentment, and fear drove me through an alcoholic hell to the very doors of death, and thank God they did; it was only when I was completely hopeless and utterly defeated that I was able to surrender, to what is.

William James, in his book “Varieties of Religious Experience” wrote:

"Emotional occasions, especially violent ones, are extremely potent in precipitating mental rearrangements. ... Hope, happiness, security, resolve, emotions characteristic of conversion can be ... explosive. And emotions that come in this explosive way seldom leave things as they found them."


No wonder we see so many “wholesale miracles” through the twelve step program. All of the spiritual prescriptions of other paths (surrender, the realisation that God will be found within, self-enquiry, repentance/renunciation, redress, prayer, meditation and selfless action) are put into practical application almost at once; certainly by the time I had been led through the twelve steps by my sponsor (which took about a month), these things were my established and accepted way of life. Since then it’s just been about continuing.

If I continue to practice these principles, I continue to change, and change* is the essence of awakening. I have gone in a few short years from something that I despised, to someone that I’m very happy being, namely me.

If I’m happy to be me, I’m probably going to be quite happy letting you be you, too.




*Change, also, is something that can only happen within. If you think you need to change the world, you probably need to change yourself. There’s nothing wrong with the world. The world is okay. It’s been doing fine for a few years now, and it will still be doing ok when you’re dead.

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Anarchy, the Electric Guitar, and Disgust with Civilisation

Its thirty years to the day that John Lennon was murdered in New York, and I’m thinking: how far have we come?

Not very, seems to be the answer. Not very far at all.

The close of 2010 finds Britain a nation of warmongering xenophobes under the heel of a fascist government. I thought that the point of history was learning from our mistakes. Clearly not.

The elderly have to work until they’re nearly dead and aren’t allowed any central heating, so they queue up to burn in the Tory ovens of the no longer feasible, in the happy knowledge that they are providing power for the production lines and keeping Britain Great.

Education is a privilege reserved for our future leaders; after all, you don’t need a degree to work in factories, slaughter animals, or kill third world civilians, and it costs too much. Not only that, but people might start getting ideas in their heads.

Ideas are dangerous, but they can be castrated with iPhones, X Factor, fear of Muslims and the press. Keep them stupid, that’s the name of the game.

Those that can’t be kept stupid are brutalised by police, imprisoned indefinitely or – for economy and expediency – shot on mass and buried in shallow graves.



WAKE UP, STUPID!

As for me, you fat capitalist Tory pig, I will not fight your wars. Nor will I obey your rules or watch your television.

I will govern myself.


Friday, 26 November 2010

My (Non) War Time Coat

It’s on mornings like this, in the English mid-winter, when the temperature is sub-zero and the toilet seat’s covered in frost, that I'm thankful to be an ageing mod who never quite grew up, and, like any old mod who is proud of his heritage have – somewhere in the subterranean byways of my wardrobe – a second world war fishtail parka.

Actually, the parka that’s currently hanging in the cupboard isn’t an original American-issue fishtail parka at all: it’s a copy of the one on the Quadrophenia album cover, made by that largely awful and totally un-mod clothing manufacturer “Lambretta”. I bought it from this horrible boutique in the centre of town called Ashes, which is full of gay shirts and limp wristed trousers. How I found myself in this shop I don’t know. How the Lambretta parka found its way in there is even more of a mystery. But it was just so iconic that I had to have it.


I didn’t really think I’d ever wear it, to be honest. I mean, I’m nearly forty. I’m a bit old to be tearing round Boscombe in a parka. When I was a teenager at the Isle-of-Wight rally I expected the oldsters to have grown out of those sorts of shenanigans and set an example by wearing camel-hair overcoats, having plenty of cash, and slightly less off-key haircuts. None of them did, of course. They just got more outlandish. Now that I’m that age myself I kind of understand why. Forty is the new twelve.

Last night though, the temperature had fallen to minus five and my woollen bridge coat just wasn’t cutting it, and as any forty year old who is proud of his heritage will tell you, these days it’s all about warmth and comfort.

And I’ve got to say, my Lambretta non-American non-second world-war non-army issue parka is probably the warmest and most comfortable coat outside of the Arctic Circle. In fact it’s not so much a coat as a tent. And not just any old tent, either. A kind of Bedouin tent of the desert; the kind that’s big enough for your whole harem.

You could sleep in this coat anywhere, and be completely indoors. You could set up home in this coat. It’s faster and more spacious than a VW camper, that’s for sure. You could probably declare it a principality.

So, as you can see, I am pleased with my coat. Now that I have a suitable outer garment I can take up space travelling again. If you don’t see me, that’ll be why.


Sunday, 31 October 2010

Excuse Me While I Polish My Rocket

Whenever the clocks go backwards or forwards or whatever it is that they do at this time of year, I find myself rampantly discombobulating. It might be because I don’t want to miss anything, and sleep with one eye open; it may be because it’s too much like being drunk or in blackout, and I think I’ve already missed something.

Whatever: I’m still up at stupid o’ clock wondering what the hell to do with myself. So I start writing nonsense. It’s all there is to do in these quiet white hours when the morning’s like a misty wraith. And I get to thinking: perhaps I’ll polish my rocket.

It’s a decent bit of kit, this rocket. I picked it up at a government auction when no-one was looking. It’s got a big red star on the side, which I like. I’m a bit of a communist, you see. I’m fond of the berets.

It lies in the shed out the back, wrapped in oily rags, awaiting its day of glory. Quietly it lies, patiently, needing no maintenance. You can learn a lot from a rocket.

I don’t often think about my rocket, but knowing I’ve got one back home in the shed puts a spring in my step, I admit. It gives me a sense of enormous well-being. I don’t get so affected by people as would someone who might not have a rocket, because as soon as a person offends, I can say to myself: “Does this situation call for the use of a rocket?” Usually it doesn’t, and if it doesn’t, I may as well forget about it.

Oh, the fantastic scenarios in which I imagine waving my rocket about freely!

Being the proud owner of a rocket has made me much more aware of things. I know what’s happening around me, because I’m always looking, you see. I’m always looking to use it. If a situation arises which calls for the legitimate use of my rocket, by God! I’m not going to miss it.

I can put up with a lot, knowing I’ve got my rocket. The bloke down the hallway who beats up his missus in the middle of the night, for instance. The crack dealers who suck their teeth. The twat on the bus playing pop music on his mobile phone. The dim and the thuggish. Fat women in leggings. Racists. Fascists. Scumbags.

All these, and many more, are ignorant of the fact that I am a man with a rocket.

Lucky for them that I’m an easy going kind of a chap, and not prone to fits of madness.

The rocket is safe with me.


Saturday, 23 October 2010

The Peace of God, Which Passes All Understanding

Thank God I’ve been freed from crippling identification with my mind. Life seems a bit more open, these days. I was just browsing Facebook when I saw Johnny Bovril’s latest status update. It said: “Johnny Bovril is finding it difficult to fight reality.”

Of course, my first thought was: Well then, stop fighting it, mate. Because of course it’s difficult to fight reality. In fact, it’s impossible. Reality always wins.

All my problems in life stemmed from the fact that I was in resistance to what is. I could not accept things as they are. I always felt things would or could or should be different. It wasn’t my thinking that was all messed up: it was the universe.

No wonder I was drunk and angry.

In order to get sober I had to let go of my old ideas. I had to come to realise that my thinking was wrong. My thinking is still wrong actually, in the sense that it doesn’t tell me the truth, and is very often disconnected from any sense of reality whatsoever. That’s why I pay less and less attention to it. It’s like a loveable but vaguely retarded cousin jumping up and down in the corner trying to get your attention.

I also had to cultivate acceptance. Like cultivating any kind of a habit, this took practice. I had to drop the delusion that I was in control of life; the delusion that I’d ever been in control of life.

To abandon myself is an on-going process.

When I truly relinquish any idea of control, life becomes quite remarkable. Because I have no idea what’s going to happen from one moment to another, it's infinitely surprising. I begin to be filled with curiosity about just what’s going to happen next. And because I know that everything is as it is - and therefore as it should be - and that every experience I have is the experience I am meant to have in this moment, however the situation looks to me, I am no longer in resistance to it. Consequently I can accept it and experience it fully.

Fear begins to drop away. I become less tense and constricted. I don’t struggle. I relax and take it easy.

Life rolls out towards me like it always has: of its own accord. I sit in the middle of it, in wonder, in the Peace of God, which passes all understanding.



Saturday, 16 October 2010

With Your Ups and Downs and Swings and Roundabouts

I noticed today that somewhere down the line I fell in love with life. It was a sudden realisation. I probably hadn’t noticed it before because of the ups and downs; the swings and roundabouts. But this morning was calm, silent and still, and I realised: oh yes, I really do love you. With your ups and downs and swings and roundabouts.

I noticed as I was rolling a cigarette that I was rolling a cigarette.  I remembered a morning with no cigarettes, with unsteady hands, with a future all morbid and bleak. I used to think that life had gone terribly wrong somewhere; that this was not how things were meant to be.

We go through what we have to go through.

We go through what we have to go through to get to where we are, which is exactly where we’re meant to be.

Yes?

Not only that, but we couldn’t have done anything different because we did what we did, which brought us to here, which is exactly where we are.

Perfect.


Friday, 15 October 2010

Just a Moment

There are people, and there are moments of clarity.

Moments of wisdom and moments of foolishness.

No individual has a monopoly on these things.

These things show up in all of us, all of the time.

If you’re looking to any one person to show you what you’re looking for, you’re going to be disappointed.

In fact, if you’re looking for any sort of an answer to anything, you’re going to be disappointed.

There is no answer; there is no question. It’s all in the mind.

Stop looking.


Sunday, 26 September 2010

Sunday Morning, and All is Well

Sunday mornings are really rather enjoyable, these days. I’m doing telephone service for the anarchist organisation of which I am a member, which largely involves waiting for phone calls which don’t often come and sitting around in my pants contemplating life, the universe, and everything.

It’s an enforced Sabbath, I suppose. Good for the state of my soul. A few hours when I have to stay at home and do nothing but bimble about a bit, and watch the world turn.

This morning as I write this, I’m listening to “Ten New Songs”, by Leonard Cohen. I like Leonard Cohen. I’m a big fan. I like his Jewishness and his humanity. I like his humour. Some people have this idea that Leonard Cohen is for depressed Goths sitting around in darkened rooms covered in goats’ blood and feathers and reciting the Lord’s Prayer backwards, but I’m not wearing black fishnets or a latex bodystocking; nor am I morose; nor are there any feathers in evidence, unless you count the wispy bits that sometimes grow out of my ears.

On the contrary, I am full of quiet joy. The voice of Leonard Cohen is like the deep breath of God as it blows down from the mountain; like the twinkle in His very eyes. And he has His angels with him, ah yes; lusty and brown, they are. I know you can’t pick your family, but if I could have picked my own grandfather, it would probably have been Leonard Cohen.

The phone hasn’t rung, but that’s ok. I’m here, and that’s what service is about. I used to think I had to go out and save people; to pick them up out of ditches and car parks and evangelise to them. I used to think that maybe I could stop them from killing themselves. But I can’t save anyone from anything; none of us can. Now I prefer to stay anonymously in the background and just be available. There is a gentle spirituality in it.

I think it might be time for my fruit.

I have to say, I’m not a great lover of fruit. I like sausage, egg and chips. But for some reason which I can’t even explain to myself I’ve been eating more healthily over the last couple of weeks. It wasn’t a conscious decision: it just happened. Suddenly I found my fridge full of spinach, broccoli, tomatoes and mung beans, and my cupboards bursting with lentils. I woke up one morning and it was there. I wondered if I was in the right house. I thought I’d maybe slipped into some alternate reality; you know, the one in which I’m a bearded hippy. But I didn’t appear to be clad in a tie-dyed t-shirt or spandex psychedelic trousers, so if it was an alternate reality, it was one which was new to me. I decided to roll with it. After all, things change completely, moment by moment. In one reality I don’t have a fridge. I don’t have a house. I don’t even have any shoes, sometimes. I’m constantly paranoid and deluded. I’m always scratting around on the street trying to get a pound together for another can of super strength lager. I have sopping wet trousers. Any reality is better than that one. 



Saturday, 25 September 2010

In Our Rags of Light

This morning I thought I’d throw out all my formulas for successful living and see what happens. Fly by the seat of my pants, as it were. I’ve found this week that there’s nothing much better for the soul than a lack of discipline.

It allows it to be, somehow. When I’m not putting any restrictions on it; when I’m not trying to attain something or getting lost in spiritual materialism; this is when my spirit unfolds.

Drop striving. It’s pointless.

The problem is that we’ve all been force fed a diet of misconceptions: that achievement equals success; that we have to move onwards and upwards; that we’re all different; that we need to have a goal to work towards; that if we can just achieve this or that or the other we can be happy and secure.

To live like this brings about frustration, resentment and fear. The constant wanting for something other than what is only causes pain. And the pain doesn’t come from not having what we think we want, but from the wanting itself.

We manufacture our own misery.

The purpose of life isn't to do, but to be.

I stole the title, by the way. From Leonard Cohen.

                                                                         Leonard Cohen                                                                                  

Friday, 24 September 2010

Another Dead Good Buddy

People seem to be dying left right and centre these days. Or maybe it’s just the kind of life I lead, or my neighbourhood. One week you’re meeting them for coffee in Boscombe; the next week they’re dead. It’s unnerving.

I suppose what’s unnerving about it is the fact that for so many years – in fact for most of my adult life – it was me who couldn’t stay sober, me who was at the doors of death half the time.

I used to hope for death on a nightly basis, to pray for it, even. You know the kind of thing: “God, please, please (you bastard), don’t let me wake up tomorrow.”

But wake up I did, on an alarmingly regular basis. And I’d wake up to the same stuff. The same TV, the same done-in ashtray, the same empty bottle, the same shits, shakes and rattles. The same having to get a few quid together to go down the shop and buy a bottle of stinking white cider. The same fear and despair; the same hopelessness and resignation.

I remember one particular night, after I hadn’t slept for a week. All I wanted was to get some sleep. Actually, what I really wanted was to drink myself to death, but denied the luxury of that, a decent night’s sleep would have been the next best thing.

I happened to have a bunch of codeine tablets lying around; about fifty of them. I thought to myself, “If I swallow all these in one go and drink a litre of vodka as fast as I possibly can, then surely it will kill me, or at least put me out for twenty-four hours.”

No.

Three hours later I was conscious again and rattling uncontrollably. It was bleak. In the end I came into recovery not to avoid death, but because it seemed like it wasn’t happening for me.

So this week I heard that a friend of mine, a drummer in a band I’d played in, had been found dead in his flat. What killed him? Alcoholism.

Not so long before that, another friend of mine, a schoolteacher, fell down the stairs when drunk and managed to kill himself that way.

Before that, another friend died after an epileptic fit brought about by – you’ve guessed it – alcoholism.




I was awoken at the crack of eight o’clock this morning by a friend of mine who is drinking himself to death as I write. It’s the usual story: paranoid and full of fear, desperate and deluded.

“You’ve got to help me; you’ve got to help me!”

What can I do? I’ll tell you what: nothing, that’s what. If I knew how to stop drinking I wouldn’t need to work a twelve-step program.

I’ve detoxed this guy once, already. He’s had God knows how many detoxes in the last six or eight months, and now he can’t get one. And anyway, it really doesn’t seem like he wants to stop drinking. What he seems to want is for someone to sit with him and say “there, there”, and make it alright for him. We’ve all been there.

But I’m no longer in the business of making it alright for you. I’m no longer in the business of commiserating with you as you selfishly drink yourself to death. You know what we have to do to recover; you know what the program of action is. If you choose not to apply it, that’s your business. If you choose to pick up a drink every time something doesn’t go your way, that too, is your business. And if you want to drink yourself to death, hey, knock yourself out. Just don’t expect me to listen to you while you do it.




Allowing Everything to Be As It Is

Recently I’ve been put on anti-depressants by the doctor. They’ve helped, I have to say. They’ve helped me to stop caring about - well - everything, really. They’ve shut up the endlessly punishing stream of thought that has been interrupting sanity for the last few months.

My sponsor came round and I told him about it. I wasn’t sure how he’d respond; people have some extreme views about medication in recovery.

Saying that, my sponsor’s not particularly extreme about anything, unless you count sitting in silence in a Zen monastery for weeks at a stretch. He’s never actually ever told me to do anything, for example. He just allows me to get on with it.

I remember when I got to steps eight and nine. There I was, with the list of the people I’d harmed, expecting him to help me outline some sort of approach towards making my amends. What he actually said was: “I always find it useful to read the book before making amends to someone. Apart from that, just go and have your own experience.”

It was a similar thing when I told him that I had stopped praying for a month, as a definite experiment in step eleven.

            “Why’s that, then?” he asked.

            “Because when I relapsed, people kept getting in my face and saying: ‘Did you pray in the morning before you took a drink?’ and some of them, if I answered yes, said: ‘Well, you couldn’t have meant it.’ So I have to ask myself this: Do I want to have a fear-based recovery? Do I believe that if I fail to say a prayer in the morning God is going to punish me by making me drink?”

            “Ok,” he nodded. “See if it works.”

Of course, God did not strike me dead, and I drifted back into daily prayer without even realising it. It’s just one of those things I do. Some people call it talking to themselves.

So I could have anticipated his response to my latest news, perhaps, which was: “That’s great. See if it works.”

Because of the perilous state of my mental terrain I’d had much difficulty staying present over the last few weeks, and meditation, well, that had just gone straight out the window. I couldn’t even sit still.

He’d brought round a cd to help me, by this chap called Adyashanti. Now, I’ve never really been keen on the idea of meditation cds - it smacks too much of whale noises and hippies - but I’m learning that what worked for me last year doesn’t necessarily work for me this year, and if something has stopped working then I need to find something new which does. I can’t afford to be closed-minded about these matters.

The investigation was this: What happens when we allow everything to be as it is?


Talk about taking the pressure off. Talk about turning it over. What happens when we relinquish control? What happens when we abandon self-centred striving? What happens when we simply allow things to be as they are?

We become open. We become closer to our natural state. We are the space in which thought arises; the space in which feeling arises. In fact, we are the space in which everything arises.

Naturally, I’m converted. From now on I am going to allow everything to be as it is, at least until I forget.

Now, where was I?

Saturday, 11 September 2010

Proper Crisp

Recently my head’s been like mud. I don’t like that. I remember the six weeks after my last drink, when although my body had recovered, my mind was shot to pieces. Every night I’d go to bed thinking: “hopefully tomorrow I’ll be able to think straight”, and every morning I’d wake up to what I began to fear was a wet brain. This wasn't a happy state of affairs. Drinking yourself to death is one thing, but drinking yourself into a permanent state of cerebral spastication is something else entirely.

It was an especially grim prospect for me, as up to this point I’d gone through life under the happy delusion that I was the intellectual superior of everybody I’d ever met. “What have I got left,” I asked myself, “if I have damaged my brain irretrievably?” The answer was not much. A lifetime of watery soup and plastic pants, and that was about it.

Anyway, it wasn’t to be – thank God – and I recovered, like we generally do.

As I continued to stay sober, and tried to live the spiritual life, I became aware that my mind had become sharper; far sharper than it had ever been.

This pleased me: not least because I had laboured for so long under the illusion that I needed drugs and alcohol to be inspired, and without them I would become about as interesting as lettuce.

But then things started getting nasty. With almost no warning, my thinking went from sharp, to spiky, to hugely aggressive. My hitherto useful and imaginative mind started to take on the more obnoxious qualities of an officer in the Waffen-SS. I suddenly realised that I’d been invaded and occupied by a black-hearted goose-stepping Nazi; a Nazi that was trying to make me throw myself off a tall building or into the path of fast moving traffic.

There was only one thing for it, and that was to start a revolution; to overthrow the heinous dictator in my midst.

Easier said than done: Nazis don’t like to be challenged, as a rule. They’re pretty touchy. So I was going to have to go about it with some stealth. I decided to get a big club, and beat the enemy unconscious while it was asleep. Then I’d tie it up and gag it and stuff it in a tea chest and stick it in the attic amongst the rat shit and old newspapers. It wouldn’t be able to bother me from there.

After that, I’d probably go on holiday, to France.

Well, the coup came off remarkably well. As I write, the usurper is bound and gagged and utterly helpless; exiled to some dark and shadowy corner of my mind. It’s been kicking and moaning all week, but now the fight seems to be going out of it.  

And me, I can walk freely in the street. I can lay down my arms and go about the business of peace. Once more, I breathe the sweet air of liberation.

Vive la Prozac.


Friday, 3 September 2010

Look, No Head

I was halfway to work this morning when I realised I’d come out without my head. Absent minded, you might say, and you’d be right.

My first inkling that all was not normal was the conspicuous lightness of my being. After all, my head is heavy. I spend most of my time trying to stuff it full of things I think I may want or need. I never do, but why take chances, right?

I stopped for a moment and wondered: should I go back and get my head? It’s full of indispensible stuff, after all. And where am I going to put all the stuff from today that I want to keep and drag around with me on the off-chance that I may need it at some indefinable point in the future?

The thing is, I was quite enjoying not having my head. What’s more, I couldn’t remember anything that was in it anyway.

I decided to risk it, to go “sans-head”, as it were.

The sun was shining, and the cars glimmered in the blue morning as I floated down the pavement like a long feather. It’s lucky we’ve got gravity, or I may have floated off into the atmosphere and never come back.

I saw a besuited office worker sitting on a bench, grimacing into his coffee. It was all going wrong for him this morning, you could see that. Not only did he have his head with him, but it was covered in screaming red acne. It looked like it could use a good soak in some vinegar.

For a moment I pondered the idea of joining him on the bench; to suggest that he just leave his head right there and go about his business without the bloody thing; that he’d probably have a much better day without it, or at least, if he insisted on carrying it around for the rest of the day, to take it off as soon as he got home and give it a nice long soak.

Of course, reason and good manners got the better of me, and prevented me from making such a faux pas. I remembered that when I’m sitting there with my head full of heavy irrelevant junk, the last thing I want is to be molested by somebody so frivolously headless. In fact, I’m hoping to see them get hit by traffic.

Not only that, but he had a bag, which in itself was bursting with stuff. Someone with a bag like that is unlikely to see the value of getting rid of their head. In fact they’re probably in the market for an even bigger bag or a bigger head; maybe even a huge filing cabinet.

So off on my way I went, my spirit abounding with headless joy.

When I got home in the evening, I propped my head on the kitchen table, and considered it as I had dinner.
Isn’t it strange, I thought to myself, that such an innocuous body part could harbour such sinister motives? And to think: had I not absent-mindedly neglected to take my head to work with me this morning, I might never have known about it. I might still be labouring under the delusion that I can’t live without my head, and then where would I be? Grimacing into my coffee and wondering why my day is turning out so badly, no doubt.

That did it. I said to my head:

“You’ve had your fun, mate. No longer am I going to be dictated to by you, you bony devil.”

And with that, I buried it in the garden, among the cabbages.

Fertilizer, you know.




Thursday, 2 September 2010

The Love Umbrella

Every now and then I crash. One moment I’m breezing along without a care in the world; the next I’m violently plummeting the icy dark depths of despair.

It’s all in my head, I know it is, but knowing it doesn’t make the slightest bit of a difference.

I know too, for example, that everything solid on the physical plane is mostly made up of empty space, but it doesn’t make getting out of handcuffs any easier.

That’s what it feels like – imprisonment. Like I’ve been kidnapped by this toxic entity in the middle of my soul. It’s a tumour: a big black maw slathering on my awareness.

I want to get rid of it, really I do. I want to cut it out, surgically. I’d rather have a hole in my soul than this fucking thing.

If I didn’t know any better, I could believe I was possessed. And in a sense, I am. Not by any demon, but by my own ego, which is struggling for supremacy.

My ego wants to separate me from you. It wants me to believe we’re different. It wants me to believe that we’re not the same stuff, the stuff of the universe, the stuff of God.

It wants me to feel threatened; to lash out; to fear; to hate.

It wants to make me forget my true nature, which is the nature of God.

A friend of mine told me that in every moment we have a choice: to stand under the umbrella of fear, or the umbrella of love. And she was right.

If sobriety and the twelve step program have taught me anything, it’s that my thinking is nonsense; a random cacophonic stream over which I have little control. And knowing that means that I can step out of it, and observe it rushing by. And when I observe it, I notice a few things. It has no rhyme or reason. It has no basis in reality. It channel-hops. It contradicts itself.

If I'm looking for the truth, I certainly won’t find it there.


So here I stand, under the love umbrella, waiting for the storm to pass. I’ve never been here before, and I’ll never be here again. Maybe I should’ve brought a camera.