Thursday, 27 April 2017

Ode to Donegal

Could I hope to pay fitting homage?
Does a sojourn of such brevity,
Yield a heart aptly informed?
So lyrically, deftly wielding palettes of guilded words,
Writers & inhabitants of yore
Capture landscapes & limitless horizons
Impressing them in a scripted weave
Commanding the imagery from the page
Coaxing an immediate connection to the immense beauty
Acquaintance breeds the want of familiarity
Songs of absence lament like no other
Eliciting the longing pangs
Of soul-wrenching agony
Defying time elapsed
To bring the ease of forgetfulness 
Donegal, though not steeped in your splendour
I can neither render my heart's tongue be mute
Nor neglect to exalt a muse of such grandeur.

Sunday, 23 April 2017

A Rose by any Other Name.........

Taking stock of ancestral and "familial" lineages that have impacted my existence or perhaps defined that; which I might consider for reconciliation, presents a formidable undertaking. Consider this journey of my "self-discovery" is undertaken without prowess in sciences (human or otherwise). Then again, despite the "wonders" that can be attributed to science; it is most certainly not the only lens through which to investigate life, and might impose more limits, than provide insights.

Gathering what seems at times, to be the ends of gossamer threads and then pursuing their lengths; instead of providing the firm bedrock upon which to base some tangible purchase, is more like trying to scale a cliff-face, grabbling hold of the unraveling sleeve of a sweater.

Woven into the story could be the age old debate around "nurture versus nature." Though my further descent down the rabbit-hole; is shaping for me a recognition, that there is no lasting solution/answer/resolution, to be found in polarizing "either/or" viewpoints.

I currently am possessed by a surname that rather than represent my "forebearers;" is that of my adopted parents. It forms part of my legally binding "identity." Despite that, (even by humanities inordinate classification complexities) it is superficial at best; and represents nothing of my ancestral history, albeit it does contribute to my biography.

So then I was conceived and carried to term as a "Draper" I was adopted by a family of "Mason's" (Hendy/Mason) & I strongly believe my paternal lineage to be "O'Neill. This is based on information obtained through a DNA test and a historical reference made in the results I received. Mason & Draper are documented and as such verifiable - O'Neill presently lacks the same irrefutable "proof." The DNA info reports: 99.9% Western European comprised of 87.5% (Irish/British), 3.3% Scandinavian and less than 0.1% French/German. The paternal ancestry is said to be Irish (highly concentrated in the North of Ireland) the maternal "British" (which seems to me a rather broad brush stroke).

I don't know enough about genetics to know if the 87.7% Irish/British would be comprised of an equal 50/50 split between the lineages. Really, the only point in knowing would be to determine a premeditated preferred outcome (along nationalistic lines). I absolutely have had curiosity regarding ancestry for a good portion of my life. However, there is no getting around it; beyond my Canadian "nationality," my ancestry is split in some fashion.

At the same time as I become more aware of the roots of my origins in terms of nationalities, culture and history etc.; other facets of the same spiritual journey, deepen my awareness of the potential divisiveness, that can arise, from any & all categorization, that humanity chooses to view itself through.

It would be all to convenient to try and ignore/dismiss ancestral history opting to affiliate myself with a romanticized version of my background. Of course this would allow for disassociating myself from any particular aspects of a national or historical background, I might find objectionable.

One one hand as a "naturalized Canadian" one (I) would have precious little history, given "Canada" as an idea is only one hundred and fifty years "old" this year. In many ways the country was founded on the worst possible elements of human history - i.e. a framework of patriarchal colonialization. For many like myself - offspring of European immigrants/settlers we are lacking any living legacy of our heritage, ancestry, culture, spirituality; as frequently there was no attention paid to it's preservation.  In some cases the "younger generation" renounced their roots; in other cases either pressure to conform to the "societal constructs" of the "new world" or a want to "leave the past in the past" and start fresh.

Even as I become aware of and able to "identify" my ancestry - I haven't been "steeped" in any of it.

Another recent awareness that came my way even as I'm writing this, is that the, what I'll call "blanket categorization" of "British;" (being relatively recent) can be broken down further.... to reveal origins from any of a variety of different "source cultures" which have their respective concentrations in various parts of Britain.  This info came via another genealogy site that had a post on Facebook. What that means, is that whatever percentage comprises my maternal lineage; (which as I said was indicated to be "British," can likely be further subdivided) to what end.... won't know unless I look into another test.

For personal interest and to answer life long curiosity this information serves a useful purpose. Verifiable "evidence" would be useful and/or necessary, should I ever want a passport or citizenship in any of these countries of origin.

Beyond that the numbers & statements such as: I'm .... percentage this, my family has been here since....... all has the potential to be a big ego trip... I'm not saying there's anything wrong with national/regional pride (but beyond a certain point, it most certainly can become extremely divisive!)

When I consider what can be seen, for this discussion, as the two main branches of my ancestry - Irish and British..... right away an obvious long standing relationship of conflict, violence, oppression, victimization & exploitation is brought to mind - one that I have been becoming more "educated" about through museum's & walking tours (led by individuals that were directly involved in parts of this history) - I suppose we are all "involved" in the on-going impact of this history. Whoever my father was either himself immigrated from Ireland; or perhaps was a Canadian born son (or even grandson) of Irish immigrants - either way most of those that immigrated to "the Americas" did so under considerable duress - from various aspects of "all this history."

If I had been in the part of the world where this was all actively taking place at a particular time in history.... I suppose I would have been the off-spring of a forbidden relationship. (a real world Romeo & Juliet scenario - except they conceived a child, rather than their respective demise). Such unions produce individuals that are then, not welcome in any camp (not being pure of race).

So the wounds, the continued mindsets, beliefs and attitudes make sense in the context of this history. But... and I'm not looking to dismiss any groups suffering, grief, loss or deny the tragedy of these long standing histories - however, if beyond the ongoing cycles of vengeance (which I believe to be a fruitless pursuit)  the seeking of freedom, equality, civil rights which should be "human rights" the basis of these things being denied, the racism, the genocide, is all based on ideology of purity of origin etc. that may rarely if ever exist beyond the "superficial" and the perceived power and entitlement of one group - it is all imagined (not the violence, oppression, torture or any of the atrocities that are justified during war, occupation and displacement  - those are the very real results of upholding these imagined mindsets).

To continue with the illustration of my ancestry (again assuming the simplistic Father - Irish & Mother - British) I could spend the rest of my life researching, listening, interviewing people from "either side" and no matter if there was a clear "good guy" and "bad guy;" I still can't extract myself from my own, conception reality. So then to hate one side or the other is to hate myself. These things play out in the world as though they are so "black and white."

The seeking of peace (for me) seems to necessitate seeking beyond the confines of human ancestry for the source of the healing/forgiveness. There is a need to recognize that I must acknowledge, own and reconcile, the energies of all sides of the wars within myself. So then, I have been the victim, the oppressed, the marginalized, the exploited, the persecuted... but so to, I have been the perpetrator, the aggressor, the racist, intolerant, tyrant... I have caused harm in anger and acting out my fears. It is useful for me to know; how my various wounds or ancestral inheritance, might be underlying how I believe, and conduct myself. However, there is nothing to be gained by my continuing to look outside of myself for the "reason" I behave these ways.... the buck stops here!

I imagine it would be an uphill journey to say the least, to have nationality, ancestry, history, culture etc. cast aside entirely. Given it has been suggested that we are "spiritual beings having a human experience" - the carte blanche renunciation of the human element; might well be contrary to any relevance of humanity itself - if indeed any exists.

Different facets of humanity, collective strengths and developments; have come through in different parts of the world - often born of necessity. Still I don't think any one ideology should reign over others; especially where viewpoints of inequality are upheld. It seems to me at this place in "history;" humanity is, as perhaps never before, calling for the best of what all cultures have brought forward, to be woven together for the good of all.

"We" are all in "this" together. Maybe "To the victor goes the spoils" should be more deeply considered? Is there actually any lasting "victory?" How long will the "losers" continue to accept their lot? Considering the further definition of "spoils" and it's negative connotation it's interesting that it was chosen to symbolize the reward of lust for power through oppression and denying the human rights of all. Perhaps the term was no accident ... it is derived from the unconscious knowing that the seeds of these beliefs/behaviours contain the rot(spoils) they will ultimately produce.

The considering of these matters and subsequent written expression; represent as a whole, a significant sense of vulnerability for me. I don't claim to have arrived (even for myself) at the "bottom-line" and therefore I'm not the voice of ultimate truth. Examining this for myself and within myself "cuts very close to the bone." Just the same, repressing and hiding my voice seldom serves any greater beneficence. Writing this has been uncharacteristically "tough slogging.." I have been on the verge of deleting it more than once.

If there is any credence in "ancestral inheritance" and the carrying forward of energetic "materials" through our respective lineages - then even geographical displacement doesn't prevent one from being impacted by historic nor possibly current events.

Maybe name and address have far less significance than what they are assigned.

As such for me.. I'm present to an ironic blend of pain, and potential freedom while pondering that.

Monday, 17 April 2017

Dream Weaving

The second day in Derry Northern Ireland came complete with far more favourable weather for being outdoors and exploring. Once I circumnavigated around the historic Derry city walls, it was time to make good on my intention to busk today. That comes as an element of the overall dream of busking In Ireland (and anywhere else I might find myself on this journey..) as well as I considered it a possible means to raise some funds and make contributions to local community resources (that support those with addictions/mental health issues)... it's early in the scheme of things (having only just got over here) so I haven't determined what additional ways I could be of service... I will "keep my ears to the track" and be open to my own creative inspiration and/or opportunity that invites and presents itself. Somewhere in there, I look for some sort of balance between my own creative potential and "not pushing the river.."

I had walked what I had thought to be roughly halfway around the wall .... taking in the different historical information placards as I went. About that time, I decided to keep my eyes open for a coffee/lunch spot. I determined it (the busking) would happen, once I was fed and had walked the rest of the wall.

As it turned out after a delicious lunch; once I resumed my walk, I was almost immediately back at where I had begun the wall walk. Of course this meant - put up or shut up, it's show time. I say that with humour because; I in no way felt pressure/obligation around this. That was not the energy I want to bring in at all. Just the same... I did need to give myself the space to go ahead as I was ready (not to be like some sort of tyrant). However; I also know that if I keep "putting it off," it won't get any easier to begin.

Today was the perfect day to be outdoors! So really all I needed to deal with was my "story" about giving a musical performance in Ireland (for God sake).. By that I mean, I'm aware of all the gifted artists, writers, poets, musicians etc. from Ireland. So I needed to convince myself it's not a case of bring a "sandwich to a picnic" (and a very "white bread" sandwich at that). I bring what I bring..

I bring what I always bring.... Namely me! Seriously it doesn't matter if I stay on the streets of Victoria and sing or book an international tour; there will always be "greater or lesser" musicians (mostly greater...) this has been my dream (well first it was getting back here at all.... that I held for over 5 years) now I'm here twice inside of less than six months) beyond that, I can't let the committee of assholes that reside in my head - derail my dream! There is no competition - that I don't go fabricating!

Another vision with regard to "being of service" is to play a role in encouraging others to know, develop and reach; their potential and to live their dreams into being. That being the case, I must demonstrate living in alignment and integrity in my own life as well. Of course this doesn't mean that I don't have to manage my own self.... when it comes to these "outside the comfort zone" growing/expanding realizations of my own. It doesn't even mean that my "intention" ensures immediate success. But, if I can both have my own fears, doubts and even failures along the way & still "keep the drive alive" - then I can talk about, walking my talk.

I eyed up a spot that seemed to me as good as any. It was in a large public square. Really the location was as much a part of the experiment as any of the rest of it. I know from experience there are some places I have found to be "sweet spots" in Victoria - I look to go back to those places when I can. As well, I will try the odd random other locations just to see how it goes. It's not the end of the world if I go into town and "the spot" is taken. It's a little frustrating if I have set the time aside, got into town with my guitar and then face the prospect of not playing. This is why I stay open to various additional spots. There are those that insist certainly places are "the places..." and while there is something to be said for "tried and true" - I believe in an abundant universe and therefore it's as much about how I hold my own energy, as where I'm doing it. Of course there are some locations where the business there; would prefer you perform anywhere but there - fair enough! I always look to not impede pedestrian traffic or block door ways etc.

Not knowing anything about these sorts of logistics here ... it's pretty much "trial & error.."

I got set up and began to play. I have not used this particular guitar in a busking situation before. It is a "parlour - size"/travel guitar; that I found in a pawn shop, and had serviced. I brought it along partly for the convenience of it's size and also knowing; that if got lost or damaged in transit, or if I were to get fed up traveling with it... it wouldn't break my heart, to let it go.

Where I did procrastinate some before leaving, was in the installation and testing some strap buttons. I got some & then put them on the day I was leaving... I quickly put the guitar on over my neck and felt it out for positioning - which checked out okay. What I didn't find out until beginning to play; was that due to the hasty installation, or maybe an older strap where the attachment holes have been enlarged from use; the strap keeps coming undone while playing it. This occurring I have to say, as I'm trying to perform my first song, had the potential to be a "deal-breaker." I envisioned... stopping. I envisioned the guitar being up-ended in a waste bin somewhere. I envisioned the guitar reduced to match sticks.

While this inner dance is going on.... I'm re-attaching the strap, twisting it in various directions; hoping that it will stay on better.  NO IT WILL NOT.

In very short order I learn that potential public indifference to buskers is internationally universal - so this strap situation is "my problem.." nobody else actually cares. From where I'm standing I see what will serve very well as a seat. Enter... living into the solution. I will contend with the strap later. Maybe something can be twisted around over the strap attachments to hold it in place - maybe I get a new strap - for now, it's to be a seated performance.

In the spirit of "the show must go on" - it did! Once I got set up and adjusted for a sit down performance, things began to gel. Before I finished my first song I had made.... well, to be honest, not being particularly familiar with the coins of the local currency - I had no idea what I made!! Curiosity got the best of me; so after the first song, I leaned over to read the coin (50p) Wow... my first ever gratuity for traveling busking!!

The grand total after roughly an hour of playing was £15 - I was pretty happy with that!! On the one hand, money/no money was not the only consideration. I know there can be vast fluctuations from one time to next - even if you get "the spot." More importantly was and is - the experience of receiving; while, doing what I love to do anyway. And, taking a dream out of the nebulous abstraction of "I'd love to..." "wouldn't it be great if....." I wonder what it would be like" and making it real!!

Sunday, 16 April 2017

Groovy Kinda Love

 How profoundly different life can present in a very few (minutes, hours, days). Maybe more accurately, the nature of life itself remains unchanged ... while one's "circumstance," is more fluid. Today is Sunday (Easter Sunday). I proclaim that, as much as anything, to orient myself. So then, this past Thursday, I began another travel adventure, leaving "home" (Vancouver island) on the 5 p.m. ferry. Then after some number of sands of time sifted through, here I now sit, in Derry, Northern Ireland.

I suppose relative to someone that has never left the town they were born, in I am fairly "well-traveled;" the truth of that becoming more concentrated, over the last seven years. Just the same, the whole experience of it, astounds me again & again.

After intermittent sleep in airplane seats, the bed component of "B&B" was delicious! There was nothing "lagging" - it was dark and I slept. Morning presented (a few different times) before I officially acknowledged it - as much as anything because during my "check-in" the previous night I was told breakfast was between "8:00 & 10:00 a.m." Soon after leaving one time zone - I gave up the need to consider what time it was, where I was. What became relevant was here & now (if I want breakfast) the time is now (my body will be given due respect). I can't however, see how it would serve to sleep longer and then not have food.  Of course, since I've been up and had breakfast and sit writing, innumerable other folks are being "served" breakfast and 10:00 has come & gone. Apparently the 8:00 to 10:00 thing is more pliable, than I might have thought.

I don't feel compelled to rush out the door, a quiet has descended here... as I believe most all the rest of the "guests" have gone off to embrace something. In the meantime, I'm not sure I've entirely arrived here. I can then be further grateful to respect my own rhythms and let the day wash over me before dashing off to "do something." I was considering seeking a "writer's retreat" while traveling (which I still may do) in the meantime, right here, right now; one has sought me.

I have been made aware that there is a parade in town later (afternoon) which commemorates the "Easter Rising" of 1916. I had already felt awash in emotion sitting here... (before being told that).

 Getting "here" ..... sometimes is an instantaneous experience for me, other times, it's incremental. A track came on the stereo .... it was one of those "instrumental" compilations albums; different popular songs covered by a musician on the pan-pipes (as far as I could discern). The song in that moment "Groovy Kind of Love" and for some inexplicable reason it struck me .. and my eyes fill with tears. It's not a song that I would generally anticipate any particular emotional response from. Whether the timber of the pipes, the "familiarity of the tune" the truth and blessing of my current circumstance, being in Northern Ireland (the land of my ancestors) all of it or none of it, I'm doing my level best to honour my heart and not become a "public spectacle." The foretelling of this parade just compounded the free flowing energy and emotion I was experiencing. Some of the guest are leaving, others returning; in & out, as I sit in the reality I'm processing.  Simultaneously I'm writing this and "chatting with some folks on Facebook." The whole thing is surreal to me.

I'm being sent David Whyte offerings - the music continues to pour a stew of various Celtic flavoured offerings, which are profoundly stirring to me. Meanwhile the "staff" are doing their thing, meals are being served in the room next door; someone is wondering aloud when "the pubs will open.." I suppose on the one hand, the myriad of different "realities," is no different than any other time - but my experience of it; was both like being a "fly on the wall," while; I'm still an active part of those, contained within the walls.  It felt like one of those movie scenes; where the protagonist is brought to visit a number of different events,  involving those connected to themselves,  and he/she, is being afforded a view which is not their accustomed perspective. It was intriguing to consider being in my experience, while in the midst of the guest house activity.

I pick up this post, having gone out for the afternoon. I set my sights on seeing some of the memorials i.e. "Bloody Sunday" monument, Free Derry Corner and then see some portion of the parade. I arrive outside the "Bogside Pub" where there are different groups amassing for the parade. Around the perimeter of the parking lot there are multiple placards with pictures, age and year of death. As I walk around taking in the imagery, the previous partial knowing albeit intellectually, of these "events," including a detached recollection of the U2 "Bloody Sunday" song is replaced by the faces, the ages, "walking the soil" bringing the humanity home to my heart. I was saddened by these tragic losses, angered by the oppression and dumbstruck by the value of freedom and the lengths so many have gone to once again reclaim their autonomy.

There appears to be far more pictures than those carrying them. I inquire of two men already holding pictures; whether those doing so, have been "assigned," or is it being determined on a voluntary basis? My question is quickly answered by my immediate involvement. I'm invited to carry a picture of one of the "volunteers." Both some of the other groups within the parade and those lining the parade route are adorned in both the "orange" & the "green." The speech given (by the president of the Sinn Fein party) at the cemetery where the parade culminated; embraces the energy that the future  is a United Ireland. She described this as having "no border," the partition was to remain in the past. Further to that there would be no subdivision, no group was to be marginalized. Union was seen to include space for both green and orange. Women and men. No longer were people to be discriminated against based on religion, politics or sexual orientation.

What an honour it was to be allowed to participate and I might add, to walk my talk which includes how much I value autonomy and inclusion. What a gift it was to experience the energetic  domino effect of generations of my ancestors expressing directly to and through my heart. I couldn't begin to paraphrase the content of the speeches given in Gaelic however, my heart swelled and was enlivened by the connection and significance of being present while it was being spoken. Our section of the procession stopped in the cemetery directly adjacent to a beautiful monument of Cuchulainn which was erected to honour some, that had lost their lives. The monument depicted the ancient warrior lashed to a stone as he was said to have done; so that after he had finally been defeated in battle; he could die standing up, and pass over with honour.

Michael Meenan who died in 1974 at the age of sixteen was afforded the honour of being remembered and a walk he no longer could make on his own; through my willingness to be his legs today.  In doing so, I was able to feel first hand; the presence and energy of my ancestors. It is said we are supported as we "stand on their shoulders" those that have gone before us and the untold sacrifices they made that led to my being here now. By honouring him, I was able to walk with and know honour. Through answering the call to stand with him; I was able to experience what it is to stand for something, far greater than myself and to become further acquainted, with the power one person has, "to make a difference." To "do small acts with "great love."

We marched the uphill route to the cemetery while Mother Nature dished up a rotating maelstrom from the weather spectrum. External elements however, were no match to the spirit of the occasion. What a gift to answer this call. I'm not saying this from the perspective that this is, "the call" that everyone should rise to. I'm saying, I was listening when the call when out ... regardless if it was intended for anyone else or just me - I heard it and this was my response.

When the ceremony was finished I walked the route back the way I came. While I marvelled at what I had the opportunity to experience, I began to wonder what I would do for dinner. It was both Sunday and Easter. There may well have been more places open as options, as the rain continued to fall on & off I was less enthusiastic about an extensive search. As I got a short distance from where the B&B I am staying at is located; I saw first a pub that was open and serving food - standing room only was the reality in there. I left and walked further toward "home." There I came across a place call "Good food to Go" - there I got myself a turkey dinner with all the trimmings and the joy of observing another form of "tradition."

My first day here has been a feast on all levels. Thank you to my ancestors and to Great Spirit for a Groovy Kinda Love!

Tuesday, 11 April 2017

Will You Believe in Magic?

I absolutely love the feeling of being aligned (that which some might call "in the flow or the "zone"); magic and synchronicity, just continually show up which is in a word, delightful!

I experience much of such flow when I'm traveling, however not infrequently,  any day, out & about can produce the same. Seems to me, a necessary element, is to just allow some freedom in the day, to "let it happen." Even if you have only a window between "non-negotiables" on your to-do list, give yourself the gift of freedom,

I have heard/read discussions; about the more frequent absence and importance of for children, "unstructured time." Whether this applies universally or not is not for me to say; however, I'm going to say it's equally important for this, adult. The rest of you can conduct the experiment and decide for yourself.

The magic began this a.m. when I was sitting at home with coffee and filling out a mail-in ballot for the upcoming Provincial election. I'm going traveling again and will miss both the election day and the early polls. Some research allowed me to discover; one could register for and receive a package for the purpose of mailing in your vote. It arrived a while ago (registered mail) and I just had to wait until today (first day to be designated as a valid vote, through this process. I skimmed the directions as I went along - completed ballot, inside this envelope, inside this envelope, verify this, sign that.....

I was just about to seal it all into the final envelope, when "something;" told me to look again at the one line I left blank. Good thing I did (well presuming I wanted my vote not to be disqualified). I had initially interpreted some reference to "witness" as something necessary in a "parent or guardian" scenario. Then that something told me further, "that can't be right;" if the individual is old enough to vote, they don't require a "co-signer." Turns out, the process was asking that (in this case) I, have someone "witness" my signing; verifying I was the registered voter, designated therein. The far shorter story is - yes I am. Now, who's going to witness this?

My intention had been to complete this and somewhere along the way, as I walked to the gym; drop it in the mail. I didn't want to give up on the early workout and I wanted this voting matter attended to.
As I sat finishing my coffee; it occurred to me to bring the ballot package along with me, and get this particular women that works at the recreation centre, to witness my signature. Well that's that then!

I arrived at the centre and there was no one at the counter, so while swiping my card and exchanging a convivial greeting, I floated my proposed favour request - which was granted (no questions asked). Well, that's not entirely true, the centre employee (whose name happens to be "Grace..") was more interested in my pending travel, than any concern for lending her signature to my credibility.

I have been going to the centre now for approaching nine years. Various rhythms and attendance consistency, would describe history there. I met Grace right at the beginning of my membership. She has lived up to her name ever since. We don't converse anything like every time I go, for one thing I go whenever it fits in any given day. Even if only able to exchange a smile, wave and hello - it is invariably an uplifting experience (for me anyway). In eight years I have processed plenty... and sometimes the gym figures in as part of the strategy. Not only has this earth angel and her smile been a light on a day; that might well have been eclipsed by some personal funk.. the otherwise casual nature of the ongoing relating - netted a willingness to witness this process.   The other thing was, though this "idea" occurred to me before I left home, I actually had no idea, that she would be on shift.

My further adventures occurred this same day, once I had finished at the gym and had come into town for some other pre-trip errands. Once my "to-dos" were completed, I had in mind to do some writing. It occurred to me I wanted to go to a different coffee shop than one I frequent in the city centre. As I was walking down the street the entrance to this particular alley beckoned. There are an assortment of funky shops within. I was further drawn to go into one of the shops.

I was shooting the breeze with the women working there, as much as anything, because there were only the two of us in this tiny little shop - so even if I were in a; "I'd be happy to be ignored" frame of mind, it probably wouldn't happen. I roamed in the store, browsing with curiosity over the assorted wares. What was I here for? Not a store I've spent much time in - but I'm here now. Then I saw it..... in a basket filled with various hearted-shaped stones. Some I recognized .. "Tiger's eye," "Rose Quartz" but it was this mottled green and earth toned one, that caught my eye. The answer to my query; "Unakite." Hmm... I'm marginally more "in the know" now - I have a name. Still, I've never heard of it and therefore lack insight into why I might be drawn to it.

Unakite balances the emotional and spiritual bodies, and provides gentle release of energetic blockages. It helps us to move on from outmoded beliefs from the past. Unakite can also be used for help with past-life regression therapy, and facilitates the understanding of previous events and their roles in the current incarnation.

A stone of vision, Unakite can open and activate the Third Eye Chakra to receive spiritual insights from higher realms.  

(A google search leads to the site "HealingCrystals") which offers these insights regarding "Unakite..") An apt stone to accompany me on my continued ancestral/spiritual exploration in Ireland which begins in two more days - maybe now!

The women gave me some "properties" that seemed relevant - which I promptly forgot along with the name as I wandered around the store some more. I compared the one I had to all the others of its type in the basket - no question this was the one. She then informed me it came with a recycled silk bag. I was attracted to one in the lot another combination of earthy tones - but it had a hole in it. She indicated there was another basket elsewhere in the shop; if I didn't see any I liked, in the first one. I went and fetched the second basket, and there was one and one only, of the same material as the first one I had been drawn to.

I thanked her ... she wished me well on my trip and I carried on down the alley. I had thought I would be directly on to the coffee shop now. Alas, it was not to be. A couple of store fronts further along - I glanced in the window and a book cover catches my eye - "Sacred Paths for Modern Man - A Wake up call From Your 12 Archetypes." A title you might say, that is for me, like a tailored suit! ("Men's work" is something I see in my future without having a clear notion of what that looks like).

The clincher for the acquisition of this book was the "cover art" - "The Green Man" suffice to say I have some history with this dude (maybe more than I can even imagine). I recently had an image of that very presence, tattooed on the side of my leg. I will be going in tomorrow to have it completed.

When I got into the coffee shop it was quite busy. I looked down the length of the shop and saw that there was an empty spot down the far end. I got my coffee and as I was laying claim to my writing roost - depositing my day-pack; I looked up on the wall above the table, there mounted is a plaster/ceramic bear's head. I've either never noticed it before or it's new. Either way, bear is "my spirit animal" - so it's seems only fitting, that I be sitting under it's watchful eye and energy, while I write this very piece.

I've read various versions of the statement - "Those that don't believe in Magic - will never find it..."

So then.... never mind "I'll believe it - when I see it...." instead: I'll see it when I believe it.

I BELIEVE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! YESSSSSSSSS!!!!!!!!!

Sunday, 9 April 2017

From the Ashes

Epoch of renewal, rebirth, refresh, resurrection
Cross revealing potent transformational intersection
What is a tomb for the caterpillar
Becomes the incubator for the butterfly
It will take a death
Of all that was
In order to displace the stone
Previously concealing
The freedom, of life’s expansion
Grieve only in passing
As nothing has been lost
The familiar
Has been reconstituted
In harmony
With an inevitable seasonal rhythm
The previous container
Necessarily destroyed
To allow from the ashes
The rise of such magnificence
Revealing celebration enfolded in funeral’s guise
Infinite intelligence
Knows the answer
Before the problem is articulated
Light already held in the darkness
Waiting to be summoned
Once the problem is declared dead
Salvation (answer) is unveiled (birthed)

Saturday, 8 April 2017

Retail Rant

How far are "we" from that hundredth monkey?
Before the collective states categorically - Enough!
"New and improved" be damned
"Never have there been such technological advances...."
(In such a short time) - rave the talking heads
Consider, never has there been, so much developed 
That was empty and meaningless
How is an insatiable appetite 
Created for something, with predetermined obsolescence?
Will it be allowed to assume
That there will always be masses waiting to consume?
If a prototype lacks in any redeeming value
How many spin-off versions of useless, will be tolerated?
Extend the warranty.....
How about extend the quality?
More to repair 
Than to replace
You're going to want to replace it right?
They've come down in price
Loaded with new features
Will any one of those, extend it's longevity?
No but you can extend the .....
Is this crown jewel of collective achievement?
To a hammer 
Everything looks like a nail
In a consumer society/economy
You're either a consumer, or?
"Sir can I please have more....?"
Want is apparently infinitely expandable
What is the projected outcome
Of continuing to cue
In the consumer circle of shite?
Mass graves for redundant consumables
Child labour
Material half lives outlive their owner
And certainly any manufacturers liability
War declared on humanity
To secure the access
To continued raw materials
Won't anyone offer
An extended warranty on human life?
Is life just a consumable
On the ledger sheet of ever-increasing returns?
Is there actually any end to "limited editions?"
Shop until ya drop?
Marketing euphemism
Humanities Epitaph?

Friday, 7 April 2017

Outing the Shame of Addiction

Given my life free of addiction has now been twice the length of time as when I was actively ensconced in that "life style" (now at just over 30yrs) well for one thing - I ain't no Spring chicken. Another distinction might be, that when I say "addiction" I refer to Drugs & Alcohol (which incidentally, are the same thing - it's all drugs). It just so happens in the world of ego-based hair-splitting; some like to make the distinction that alcohol is "legal" and therefore - (fill in your rationale of choice). For many, some form of "substance" abuse, might be as far as they would cast their net, when considering an addiction.

For the purpose of my discussion I will define addiction as: the compulsive, repetitive attempt to focus outside myself on (              ) in order to avoid the pain brought on by what amounts to, a chronic disconnection with myself. Typically at some point this continued self-abandonment will lead to various areas of my life that are suffering due to this neglect. The other thing is, that though this behaviour is in response to and a strategy for, coping with chronic pain ... it does nothing to provide lasting relief.

Though other forms of addiction are allegated varying degrees of shame; seemingly on some sort of gradient, chemical addiction somehow, has been assigned among the most negative of stigma. This may be due to the fact that someone that is on the downward spiral with these addictions is quite visible to the public eye and therefore can readily draw their scorn. Those in society who may be courting various other forms of addictions, that are not so visible, can effectively & conveniently conceal this truth. In fact when one considers how many in our modern society might be indulging in these "hidden addictions" a viable answer to the stigma reserved for the more visibly afflicted materializes. The age old practice of "scapegoating" rears its nasty head. All too convenient for those that are scrambling to conceal areas of their own life that have gotten "out of control;" to project their self-contempt on those that lie on the front lines and trenches (in some cases literally) suffering in the clutches of what for many, will be an addiction, that leads to their demise.

I only now mention a "history" of addiction for the purposes of outlining my "education;" I have zero shame associated with this history. This certainly was not always the case. I don't "identify" with this history any longer. It is my intention moving forward to serve, in the capacity of coach/mentor/guide/healer. As such, it is inevitable that addictions in all shapes and forms will present. It is my contention that without making "addiction" a continual focal point; but disclosing with full transparency my "background;" I demonstrate my knowing of the subject matter is far beyond conjecture, and that complete freedom from a history (any history) is possible. Obviously it doesn't remove the fact the history occurred. The difference is one can be far removed from their history and still hold themselves in the associative container of pain (shame, self-hatred, victim consciousness). This is not "my pet theory" nor is it even a compilation of the company of thousands of individuals and countless hours of both their "drunkalogues" and their "recovery" stories, that seed my assertion. This is, the unassailable truth of my life experience.

I have been extracted from literal hell on earth and granted the grace to have complete freedom from that past, in order to tell my story. Not to parrot the group mind of twelve step rooms, religious or mind-based behaviour modification strategies. I'm not here to malign or negate any other path.

My path included a wake-up call well into multiple years of sobriety (that already made me a statistical anomaly) - that despite "beating the odds" and remaining sober 5 yrs. 10 yrs. 15 yrs. +++  there still existed for me a crippling presence of shame (self-hatred, self-contempt, self-criticism - energy and mistaken unconscious beliefs, that I had not just made mistakes .... I was a MISTAKE!!)

Long before the end of my attendance at twelve step rooms I sought "outside help." The "desire to drink" had long since been lifted and was at no risk of returning. I knew with every fibre of my being that drinking etc. was no longer my option. But I had to find relief from the suffering that no amount of repetition of the panacea times twelve, was going to relieve. Trust me, any suggestion from the fundamentalists in the rooms, that I was not "fearless and thorough" could soon be laid to rest by some of the sponsors that I left in comas, as they agreed to witness the comprehensive self-disclosure I presented doing fourth and fifth steps. I did the subsequent steps again and again ... I made the lists, the amends, did the ongoing service etc.

The founder of A.A. himself way back when, said that "sobriety" is but the tip of the iceberg, for many, there still remains significant mental/emotional/spiritual malady, for which it may be necessary to seek "outside help." This was in the late thirties or early forties, when there wasn't a great many additional options available. Still he acknowledged, that the program itself, was not necessarily the "be all to end all." No question it's a good place to get started; for someone that has been chronically addicted ... there are few other places where you can be surrounded by others that have a similar history, will accept you without judgment (theoretically and until, you start trying to think and speak for yourself).

Let's face it, if I was for a good portion of fifteen years drinking and using drugs in an addicted and self-destructive fashion; then if I stop and stay stopped, it's better for everyone. However, though this ongoing abstinence is significant - it is not nearly enough (for me) and I can assure you, there is so much more. Twelve step adherents would have you believe that should you ever leave those rooms - relapse is inevitable. This is simply not true. Again I draw on the founder's words which stated: "Sobriety is contingent on the ongoing quality of one's spiritual maintenance." He never said that "maintenance" need consist of a lifetime of those meetings, and those meetings only.  As far as I'm concerned this is where the collective have taken liberty with some of the spiritual principles woven into the program and have allowed the cultural consensus within the rooms, to become dogmatic.

I take issue not with those that choose to make stopping drinking, the pinnacle for themselves. The problem lies where those that pound tables and program literature like some sort of southern evangelical preacher; but choose not to address their own underlying issues, often don't restrict their  choice and belief to themselves. There is considerable "peer pressure" to tow the party line in those rooms. Again they have their place - for someone with patterned repetitive relapse... whatever it takes to get a stay sober is a really good idea.

So then what begins as a "supportive" environment, then shows its shadowy underbelly if you "rock the boat." Soon there after, it is discovered how close to its shame-based religious roots it still remains. You tell me (a somewhat rhetorical suggestion - I'll discuss my views and experience but only to the point of mutual connection and understanding - if all you want to do is change my mind forget it ... I've done all the investigation I need) - so again, you tell me, how someone that is already suffering at depth, vast amounts of shame, how can anyone think, that additional shaming is the solution to that?

I understand anyone's fear of relapse. I wouldn't wish that hell on anyone, let alone that they return to it after a respite of any length. If you never stop, you might be able to continue to deceive yourself into thinking "this is it." But once you stop for even a short while, it will always be known, that an alternative exists.

For me among other insights, I realized after a certain time, there was no particular challenge in discussing my addiction in a room full of others who had lived the same thing. However there was no release from the shame either. When I began exploring other forms of personal growth and healing groups, circles, workshops and perhaps; I was, the only one in the circle with an addiction history (or at least the admission of one) then it took considerably more, to open up about that. It was a far greater "risk" and though initially; I might have thought I was seeking acceptance from others regardless of my history - the longer term result was, I both realized; I was lessening my shame around this history, and more and more, coming to win the acceptance, of the one hold-out that had been present my whole life.... namely ME!

Once a word or phrase has been so completely charged with the negative energy like "alcoholic" or some racial slur, what possible good can it do; to on a daily (multiple times a day) basis, reinforce that stigma "and I am a ..............." Clearly I need to recognize and admit where and in what ways my life is not working ... but it serves no higher good; to beat the shit out of myself with that, for the rest of my life.

I drank and used drugs abusively, self-destructively, with relative impunity followed by immobilizing remorse - until I felt well enough to get up and do it again.  All this having been true..... there is so much more to me than just this. There is so much more to every single person than this - but they have to be willing to find that out for themselves.

This self-discovery, recovery, remembering, reconnecting was for me, the beginning of the end of the long term pain of utter self-abandonment and disconnection. I can't speak for anyone else but I can tell you shame existed in me long before I picked up my first drink - even though "long" in my case, was age thirteen. Imagine if you will (or can) the kind of pain, a thirteen year old boy might be experiencing that a path of numbing out would become what he opts for. I can assure you, the ensuing fifteen years of making that choice, only served to heap shame upon shame upon shame.

The path I stand for and represent is one of love. I will write about it, speak about it and do my utmost to live it into the world. I will share myself, my story and my experience whether it is with one person or one thousand and one people - it doesn't matter, I will do so without shame.

I know at depth the pain of separation, isolation, shame, exclusion and disconnection; I simply won't be part of anything, that perpetuates that.

I also know freedom, connection, love, acceptance, inclusion and more consistent inner peace than I've ever known ... I want to share that.

Wednesday, 5 April 2017

Is This Thing On?

On your mark
Get set...

Heard it in the playground
Ribbons for the "winner"

Those bent on the competition
"Somebody has got to lose!"
Prepares ya for "life"

More at stake now
Well yes 
It's still just a race
Trophies and medals
Where's your school "spirit?"

Keep running
Leave the competition behind
Could get ya a "free ride"
The best school
And a shot at representing 

Well yes
Grade percentiles
Keep running
Winners don't quit
Quitters don't win

A most impressive
Scholastic and Athletic path
Want that corner office
Keep running 

"Rat race" 
Only to those 
That are losing
They don't know how
To play the game

 In a class all your own
Saving whales and trees?
You're among the elite
Not one of those bleeding heart losers

Nobody has time for losers
You didn't get to the top
By stopping to listen
To those whiners
That fell by the wayside

Somebody has got to lose!!

In a final irony
Passage is ushered
From architectural and engineering marvels
Intended to connect and bridge
Distant view points
And the maw
Of a cavernous abyss
The river
Gaia's life blood
Involuntarily co-opted 
To grant a death wish 
Utterly contrary
To it's very nature
"Bleeding hearts" line the river bed
Nobody will listen
There's no time
The "race" to the swiftest

"Somebody has got to lose!"

Monday, 3 April 2017

Write of Passage

I have written about not knowing what was to be said. Other opening thoughts have expressed a resistance bordering on refusal, to write and a subsequent writing about not wanting to write. 
Today's dalliance with written expression, commences with a focus on the continuing journey with writing. Writing for writing sake. If you have read any of my writing, then it should come as no surprise, that I would turn writing in upon itself. I suppose you could say "I'm down" with going in. While there is plenty to see and express residing in full view; for me the delight, the intrigue, the adventure, resides below the surface, and it unfolds as infinitely inward, as the universe expands outward. A different appreciation of the "inside looking out" can alter the view outside.

For quite sometime there has been a book project of mine unfolding quietly; albeit not entirely invisibly. The "story" features a forty day practice of the "care" of and then the walking, of a labyrinth. The practice itself lends to introspection - so not surprising I met myself in many guises along the way. Holding to the practice, writing the daily insights and/or the illuminating the resistances and hurdles; was a continual process, of examining how my inside world, was manifesting upon the outside world. Sometimes showing up and walking the labyrinth was the challenge. Other times upholding the discipline of the daily writing presented with ease. On other occasions, unforeseen obstacles that lurked beneath the surface required clearing or subduing; in order to ensure the commitment was sustained.

Along the way.... all variety of life happenstances presented that weren't necessarily just cause to abandon the project, but they could have been. One computer was stolen, another succumbed to entropy and ultimately, its rather premature demise. Despite all this or perhaps regardless (maybe even, because of) the beat went on.

Today marks the day that after various rewrites and the once revised (after some professional "coaching") manuscript, was sent off to be professionally edited and proof-read. I woke up to find a email from the person that was to provide that service in my inbox.   The early April window we had discussed a couple of months ago, was now upon us. 

I have been anticipating this contact .. in fact once I got beyond April Fool's Day relatively unscathed, I had in mind; to wait a few days and if I didn't hear, to take it upon myself to see where things were at. I had hoped to have entered into this next phase before I took off traveling again (which is in less than two weeks). Although everything is happening back and forth online; it just seemed to me, I'd like to have that process underway before I left.

Of course part of initiated the service and the process was the matter of the fees for service. We hadn't  discussed the "bottom-line" previously; therefore it was made very real upon submitting the manuscript and then receiving the invoice. I suppose it's all a matter of perspective, however, given this sum was a significant amount of money you might say this was another "moment of truth." In this instance I would suggest in order for "dreams to come true" there will come a time, when one must decide whether they are prepared, to "put some serious skin in the game." Is my dream of becoming a published author worth it? The time, the energy etc. that has been invested so far what was that about? Are the people that I sincerely hope will be inspired by the journey that led to the creation of the book chronicling the journey worth it? And last but in no way, shape or form least; am I worth this additional "investment? 

Apparently the answer to all these questions is YES! Barely batted an eye. In this day and age you can disburse and dispense likely any sum of money with a couple of clicks of the mouse pad... Just like Star Trek .. coordinates set.. energize and bada bing; money is extracted from my bank account and transported to across continent and ocean...  Now, if only the rest of me could be shot across the universe that same way... I'd not mourn the absence of the planes, trains and automobiles element of traveling. Of course having spent so much of life ... focusing on "getting it together.." I wouldn't be too happy to have my molecules scattered all over creation .. before their time.

So then, this feels like a significant milestone in what is in truth: process.. within process.. within process...  does this rather sizeable investment guarantee anything? I don't suppose in and of itself it does. I've not taken this thing this far... to have it die on the vine!!! It most certainly will go somewhere. The beautiful thing about it is there have been innumerable victories and successes ... there actually can be no failure. So there is nothing to do but continue to see where the path writing is carving in my life is taking me... I'm just along for the ride, largely because I have fingers. This finished work of mine, may not be the 21st century offering, from the good people at Gideon (whomever they might be) - it might not be revolutionary enough that some regime will order it burned - but it's a start! I haven't had a great deal of experience in the participation of creating from nothing. Mostly my involvement has been such, that I show up to something that is already "created" and fill some role in it's continuance. I'm not saying this is not of value. I am saying, having been now in both "camps;" that the latter cannot possibly satiate, the same way and across so many levels of being, as the former.

Given this my first foray into the birthing of a book; I have no idea, what will present next in the process. Maybe just as well, far easier to stay "in the moment" of what's currently necessary, when I don't know what's up next. 

I trust the "need to know" provided by the forces that initiated my want to write and inspired this project, will be brought to my awareness at the right and perfect time.

I'm the scribe and I do have creative input - however I'm not the director.