Tuesday, 19 June 2018

Them Good Vibrations

A couple of mornings ago, soon after arising, I found myself to be in a foul mood. Just to give some context, for me, this denotes; the sort of inner landscape, that can lead to even inanimate objects, being included in the snare of my intolerance and simmering ire. There was no particular "reason" for this angst - though it's fair to say, of late I've been processing a goulash of feelings & considering how they pertain to past, present and future.

There are times when the presence of a seasoned witness is invaluable - this was not one of those times. For you see at other times, the mere presence of someone else, is apt to rub me the wrong way. Nobody should be subject to this, through no fault of their own - suddenly they'd find themselves on the receiving end of Misérable!!

I wouldn't  say I'm "anti-social," (except of course, during those moments when I am) - but when the dark clouds of "restless, irritable and discontent" descend upon me - I'm definitely "anti" - anybody in my face. At these times, "well-intended" advice, suggestions, attempts to "cheer me up," fly like a lead zeppelin.

I decided to incorporate some of what I had decided, were necessary "errands," into a morning ride on my motorcycle. I had to work, beginning mid-afternoon, so this wasn't going to be a "long ride" - but it most certainly would traverse more asphalt; than was minimally required, to complete my errands.

I have experience with meditation, walking/exercising, journaling,  and it all plays an integral part of my wellness - that is of course, when I actually consistently incorporate these things, into my wakeful day. None of the above would occur this day - that part of me that perhaps, would benefit the most, was making a strong case for taking a pass (which is summed up thus: "Fuck it!!)

I got my riding gear on & went downstairs to the underground parking. There held in suspended animation, was seven hundred odd pounds of trusty steed, just waiting to be unleashed.

I put the key in the ignition - it actually went through my mind, "am I in the best frame of mind to be considering being in "care & control" of this motor vehicle? I pulled out the choke, gave the throttle a quick twist and hit the start button......

The sound of this beast waking from it's slumber (all 1500 c.c.'s of it) amplified by the acoustic properties of the underground parking was... well enough to wake the slumbering - including me. The sound and palpable vibration, instantly transformed my disposition. After a brief warming of the engine and stowing my stuff in the saddle bags - I would soon be ushered to a particular form of freedom on my Milwaukee born, rubber and steel - Magic carpet.

Yes I'm aware that I am blessed to have the option to seek such freedom. I'm also aware that my inner freedom cannot be defined by whatever I own. Nor can lasting inner peace be attained through distraction, adrenaline rushes, or seeking to alter my inner state, through outside means.

I have run the gamut... I have sought first solace and eventually oblivion, through alcohol and drugs - that represents 15 years of my life.  Over the now last, over thirty one years of my "sobriety" - I have compulsively exercised (in the form of running) obsessed on attaining the magazine physique, spent a small (maybe not so small) fortune on all sorts of "quick - but not cheap" fixes. Sex, drugs, rock & roll - spirituality (in all shapes & sizes) - all of it, cobble stones that comprise the road; I incrementally chose. None of it necessarily problematic (except when it is being used explicitly to escape myself)..

There is no motorcycle fast enough to out-run myself. But there is no crime in seeking those "zen-like" states - and whatever brings you there. I'm not advocating everyone go out and buy a motorcycle -I'm not advocating anything.

I know full well, there may come a time when I can no longer handle the bike. One day when I was out at the Harley shop there was an older gentleman (meaning "older" than me!) and he was looking at the 3 wheel Harley "trike"..... They are pretty cool, however just the same, he was struggling with his present reality. I was commenting to him - "what a beautiful bike", he was looking at! His concern was "well it's either this, or my riding days are over - my bike is too damn heavy for me now!!

I felt for him - I sensed his love of riding and imagined all the experiences he'd had on his other bike. Compassion and shared humanity, maybe not what one would expect to find on the sales floor of the Harley shop - where it could easily be lost in the leather and machismo - but there it was just the same. An irony reared it head - this iconic symbol of freedom and non-conformity (the Harley Davidson motorcycle) though able to give one, hundreds of thousands of miles of open road, soaring heart and exhilaration; it is still not able to by-pass physical realities (that would also apply to emotional/spiritual).

My mental/emotional/spiritual state is as "they say" an inside job. I fully intend to enjoy this motorcycle while I can.

As time is inclined to do - it slips by pretty quickly; before I know it, I could be considering how I'm going to customize my electric scooter and more importantly. how will I get it to produce that guttural engine sound, and give me more of those "good vibrations!!"

Humility's Whisper

The next line of Desiderata reads:

"If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain or bitter; for always there will be greater & lesser persons than yourself."

Who hasn't compared themselves to someone else at some time or another? Even embedded within the question, is a comparison with others. The duality of "right/wrong" comes into play, in as much as,  if what I am doing through my comparison, is to try and make myself feel better about myself - then you (or something about you) is found to be wrong, so that naturally that would make me right.

The opposite is also frequently employed, by putting others on a pedestal, it can continually reinforce beliefs of inadequacy, I hold toward myself.

While it's true we can all be "mirrors" for each other, there is nothing to be gained by pumping myself up or tearing myself down based on comparison with others. Though it can appear ever present, life is not a competition. If what I'm interested in doing, is to forward my own evolution, then I can use my own life as the bench mark for comparison.

It's not my business what other people are doing with their lives or how poorly or well, they are doing it. I don't need to be "the best" at something in order to enjoy it. It's a flimsy measure at the best of times. If I were to base my self worth on my perception that I'm so exceptional at, lets say, playing the guitar - the moment I realize there is someone more skilled than me (which is another perception) the basis for my self worth vanishes.

For the record I'm not an exceptional guitar player and don't consider myself "the best at anything." I suppose there's no one that could hold a candle, at being me - but then again, some days I'd wonder about that too!

R. O'Neill (June 19, 2018)

Monday, 18 June 2018

Change The Things You Can

As I continue with the exploration of Desiderata:

The next line reads:

"Avoid loud & aggressive persons, they are vexations to the spirit."

Vexation is defined as: "the state of be frustrated, annoyed, worried.

Certainly I don't have to look far to encounter "loud and aggressive" people - I work casually in a residential care/rehab setting - health care is a cornucopia of dysfunctional people & contrary to what you might think, often the lion's share are among the staff.

People who are far too identified with their position in an arbitrary hierarchy and who have an inflated sense of their own importance, based on illusory power within a union work environment. This doesn't begin to address what they might have "been through" in their lives which has formed their persona. 

No question extended exposure to some of these folks is the epitome of "vexation." My short term strategy is spend only as much time in their company as necessary. I get away from the floor on my breaks and get some fresh air and/or read something uplifting. The last thing I want to do is spend my break in a staff room where the collective comes together and turns the air toxic in moments.

The longer term solution is going to be get myself out of there. I was away from it, while I travelled for 6 months - coming back, made me aware of how desensitized I'd become while I was working there more regularly and how undesirable it is to be back there.

It's not immediately clear what the alternative is, but it's clear one must be sought/created. Life is too short for this malarky.

Having said that, and from the other side of the coin. Reading this reminds me, that my acting out in loud and aggressive ways, is a vexation to someone else's spirit (quite likely my own as well). The searchlight of my assessment; most certainly must shine upon and within me, as well. Truly the wisdom attained from such writing as Desiderata, is far more powerful, when one applies it to themselves.

There is nothing to be gained by my dwelling on the perceived short-comings of anyone one else. But it is up to me to learn to look after myself in the presence of these loud and aggressive sorts; optimally without meeting their aggression with the same energy.

There in lies the challenge and for me, the healing path.

R. O'Neill (June 18, 2018)

Saturday, 16 June 2018

Speak Up & Listen Deeply

The Desiderata goes on to say:

"Speak your truth quietly & clearly; and listen to others, even the dull & the ignorant; they too have their story."

Once again their is attention drawn to the need for each to speak their truth. I know in my life I have lamented "not being heard" .. but further analysis revealed that I didn't necessarily ensure my voice was heard. This is a spoke on the wheel of my reticence to take responsibility over all. After all is the end result - "I wasn't heard," based in you're not listening - or me either not speaking or taking measures to make sure I was heard. Will I fall on silent scorn and feeling wounded - if "told" to be quiet - or will I stand in my power and refuse to silenced?

On this matter (as it indicates here) the truth can be spoken "quietly and clearly." In other words there is no need to yell. Certainly I have resorted to such tactics - on occasion when I believed my voice was falling on "deaf ears." Trust me, turning up the volume does nothing to be heard. It is my experience that a clear expression of my truth can practically be said at a whisper - such is the power and presence of the truth. It will find it's mark without the need to beat someone else over the head with it. It won't necessarily change anyone else's point of view nor their behaviour (and isn't meant to). My actions and decisions are to be based on what is true for me. It is not necessary that anyone else "agrees" with what I'm doing. It is beneficial to me that it be clear where I stand. I'm not trying to convince anyone else.

Next there is the supposition that others be "heard" as well. That their truth is equally important. I suppose the reference to and framing some as being "dull & ignorant" - is to emphasize that everyone has something to say -worth hearing. And that they certainly are (no matter who they are) entitled to be listened to.

I would caution the kind of judgment that would label anyone "dull & ignorant" in the first place. To cast someone in such a negative light and then in turn use that as a justification to ignore them is not okay. I would suggest that such a practice would be more indicative of the arrogance of the one doing the judging than any accurate appraisal of the one being judged.

There is no just cause to deem anyone "dull or ignorant" and certainly not to conclude they have no life experience, current views or visions for the future that could be of great value to any discussion.

They get up in the morning, put their pants on (assuming they wear pants) one leg at a time; the sun shines equally upon them, and if the two of you stand in the rain - I don't care who you are, you will get wet.

If you are so enraptured with what you perceive to be your own gifts (and believe that some how gives you an elevated status over others) this hierarchy exists only between your ears; further if it is then supposed to be just cause, to refuse to even be curious about, the gifts of another - you might consider acknowledging these gifts you wear like a badge - with a modicum of grace and gratitude. Chances are you've done little or nothing to develop them - so what makes you think, you deserve some special recognition.

Those that cast dispersions and judgement upon others are the true embodiment of dull and ignorant. It serves no useful purpose to single them out. It does merit an ongoing self-assessment for any behaviour such as this from myself. I am fully aware of the pain such behaviour causes and that is not how I want to present in the world or the contribution I wish to make.

R.O'Neill (June 16,  2018)

Friday, 15 June 2018

The "Gold" Standard

My apologies for the delayed continued treatment of "Desiderata."

The next line reads:

"As far as possible without surrender, be on good terms with all persons."

Similar guidance comes via the bible - "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you."

In the case of the Desiderata, there is the added provision: "without surrender." For me, what that is suggesting is that (I) or one, not abandon themselves in order to attempt to gain or maintain the good favour of someone else. ("To Thine Own Self, Be True....") Consider how powerful and impactful societal grooming has been through espousing the virtue in being self-sacrificing. Certainly that can become a problem if taken to extremes.

Personal experiences have taught me that while people I might encounter in my day to day life, may present as "disagreeable.." - it certainly doesn't serve to butt heads with these people; especially if I need to continue to work with them, or this person is on the other side of the counter, where I hope to then get "service." Defensive/offensive behaviour certainly will wreak havoc in personal relationships.

Of course in the case of someone that is an abusive presence,  I don't surrender my safety/well-being, it's up to me to remove myself from these situations, whether it's a personal relationship, an employer etc. "Being on good terms," does not mean I'm willing to "take in on the chin."

The opening phrase begins: "As far as possible..." - this I would suggest is not necessarily a fixed way of being. It might look different from one day to the next (even toward the same person). All I can offer is my best (as determined by me). I don't do so with any intention to be taken advantage of; or, to be treated poorly. I can and will, utilize a fully functional "No."(when it is deemed necessary).

The other side of the coin is, that seldom (if ever) is my being disagreeable warranted (let alone effective). Truly I only hurt myself when I behave in a hurtful manner toward someone else. 

Unquestionably when I have felt hurt and not had the where-with-all in the moment to take ownership of that, I have lashed out defensively and have been every bit as offensive as my perceived perpetrator.  Those "good terms" need to exist within and toward myself as well. Consider what would there be to "defend".. if I believed there was, nothing to defend?

So I'm advocating for myself, some sort of middle ground. I neither wish to be a door-mat, nor do I wish to be a reactionary, retaliatory perpetrator either.

I can certainly be kept busy monitoring, "my own eye for a sliver, rather than pointing out the log in someone else's."  
Some continued focus on developing some humility, self-empathy and compassion can go a long way toward how I relate to others.

I am practicing a respect and valuing, of my own inner peace. In doing so, the importance of this inner state of being, can be preserved by not being so quick, to "surrender" it, when faced with conflict. So then, how can I be true to myself; while preserving my inner peace, at the same time not giving in "just to keep the peace - which ultimately leaves me in a state of turmoil.

Again, "all persons" - includes my (one's own) self.

R.O'Neill (June 15,  2018)

Friday, 8 June 2018

Piece-meal to Peace

I felt inspired to use the piece: "Desiderata" as daily writing prompt. Therefore I will take it one line per day and write into/around, what ever that theme contains. This then could include my past or current experience, and anything that comes through for me, at the moment I'm writing.

This study/treatment of this old poem operates under the premise, that there's no need to "reinvent the wheel.." In other words, I can relate and express myself "originally," upon something that already exists.

So to begin:

"Go placidly amid the noise & haste, & remember what peace there may be in silence."

To begin with placidly is defined as: "not easily upset or excited."

So then the suggestion is that in the presence of "noise & haste" - I maintain an air of composure. Certainly as an urban dweller, I can vouch for the incidence of both noise and haste. Particularly now with (as noted in the media) "unprecedented volumes of construction is occurring" - roads and residential/commercial. Many are in a great hurry, to go - (God knows where) so much so, they are willing to place themselves and others in jeopardy.

Just today, I popped out (on my motorcycle) to do a couple errands. I was on my way home when while in traffic, and waiting to make a turn; I could see, that though I was proceeding to turn into the closest most available lane ... the vehicle turning through the intersection from the other side was not intending to do so. I yielded (my "right of way") the women driving the car making the turn waved and appeared pleased with both her getting one car length of additional asphalt and her perception of the courtesy extended by me. The point is I didn't "give" her anything... in the interest of staying alive I didn't insist on my right-of-way as to do so would have got me creamed while she executed her illegal turn and cut me off. Of course there are times when I offer courtesy on the road - I'm not however interested in having my epitaph read: "I had the right-a-way!!"

So what I'm saying is I can contribute to the noise and haste (which admittedly I most certainly have done) and continue on occasion to do - though I do make a concerted effort to preserve my inner peace or I can choose differently.

I most definitely "remember" the peace available - in the silence. Although on some occasions, it would be have I have obliterated it with considerable inner (and at times, outer) racket. There are countless examples in my life whereby I have tasted the sweet peace in the silence - but not far from the "cushion" where it was attained I go about creating an uproar. Naturally, I've often rationalized said ruckus, with a heaping helping of righteous indignation. All I've ever managed to attain thus, is an explanation for why I'm feeling so agitated and irate - in other words the righteousness did nothing to bring about any peace - it just gave me an excuse for my foul disposition. And as I consider it now, most often (if not always) just compounded my dour mood.

As far as I can determine - the noise and the haste, are not going away anytime soon. All I can do, (drawing from the wisdom of another old standard) - "Accept the things I can't change" & have the wisdom to know, the only one I can change, is myself. In the above mentioned traffic scenario, there was no "incident," because I chose to deal with the situation proactively. I haven't been back on a motorcycle a very long again - but I definitely adapted a certain vigilance, from when I frequently rode my bicycle. In some ways the two modes of transportation, have some parallels. One need assume complete, responsibility for their well-being on the road. The truth is, you as a cyclist or motorcyclist, are largely invisible, in the consciousness of many drivers (that is until you're being picked out of the grill of their car) - so I never assume, I'm being seen. Also due to a skewed sense of entitlement, far too many drivers, believe they have more right to the road, than you do, and they will take it. Whether this is derived from plain ignorance or lack of attention,  in the intersection, is no place to have such philosophical debates.

I'd maintain that a general practice of stress reduction and attention to well-being better prepare one to weather the onslaught of noise and haste. I can leave early - so that I'm not "running late" and contributing to that haste. If I'm inevitably going to be late, then I can try and call ahead and take the pressure off myself and just arrive when I get there.

Another key element for me is to deal with the feelings that are triggered when a situation arises while navigating through the world of noise and haste. I certainly feel gratitude when I am guided to successfully avoid a traffic altercation. But I also feel the surge of adrenaline, a mixture of fear and anger. It's up to me then to determine, do I need a "time out.." in the motorcycle scenario, to continue in traffic, afterwards, if I'm still agitated etc. doesn't hold me in good stead for further negotiating upon the road. The same would be true with personal interactions. I need to find a way to get back to my centre and place of calm.

"Road rage" does not make any form of positive contribution to the world. Neither though is it practical to commence meditation in the middle of downtown traffic. It is possible, to employ some relaxing breaths, at the next light or if need be, pull over somewhere & just chill.

It is indeed a gift to avail myself to the peace in the silence - it is also a very powerful awareness for me to realize that the loudest voice breaking the silence, is my own.

R.O'Neill (June 07, 2018)

Thursday, 7 June 2018

In a Crowd of One

Why all this emphasis
On Self-love?
Think it folly?
"New age" B.S.

All is 
Said and done

"Friends," family, community
One way 
Will all disappear 

Dare to question 
Their tenets
The group mind

Speak your mind
What is the truth
Your experience

To exercise
Your freedom 
To be

Choose to focus
Your energy & resources
On your own life
Follow your 
Own path

You will immediately know
The lash
of Social exile

To court 
Authenticity & integrity
Is to invite
The crucifixion
By the collective 

Make no mistake
They love your 
Not you

They wear your silence
As the warm embrace

Not only 
Will they not
Your assertion
You will receive
A leper's welcome

All association
Will abruptly 
Be severed

The gravitational pull
Of the collective
Will ensure 
That no one
Will remain 
By your side

"Maybe others - but not you...."
Your absence will scream the loudest

So you see
You're all you've got
In all the gaping maw
Of an infinite universe

Don't deceive yourself
About the illusory
Of anyone
Walking with you

No one
Will join you
In exile

Given this
You might consider
A higher quality
For yourself
And go about
Whatever God
You can.....

R. O'Neill (June 07, 2018) 

Monday, 4 June 2018

On Blowing Your Own Whistle

For those that are not familiar with my book "What Goes Around Comes Around;" it features the account of a 40 consecutive day labyrinth practice that I undertook.  Just as the walking meditation practice of a labyrinth provides a pathway that begins on the outside and penetrates to the centre,  the book also contains much deeper, richer content. The story of walking the labyrinth each day is only the most superficial attribute of the book. The book reveals candidly and transparently,various  challenges throughout my life, as well as those that I encountered, during the walking each day.

It shares questions I was asking about my life and about life in general. Various insights and revelations that I received during this process, are made available to the reader. Each chapter is entitled with a different attribute that contributes (one way or another) to personal growth. I "tell all" with respect to what I learn of the human condition (mine) the reader can relate as they see fit. At the end of each chapter are 15 - 20 guideline questions formulated around the chapter theme, that people can then use as templates, for examination of different aspects of their own life.

I share of myself so that it is clear, that though I was participating in a form of "meditation" (which some consider a part of a "Spiritual path;"  that I was then "writing" a manuscript, which at the time, I envisioned would be my first book, that now, I have successfully self-published; my life has been full of some significant challenges (some of which were life threatening) none of which, were allowed to become roadblocks to my fulfilling this dream. I want this to be inspiring to others. So that they can look at the dark roads I have traversed and yet various successes were still possible - I believe this true for anyone.

The completion of the 40 day practice, the writing (and numerous rewrites of the manuscript) were milestones of accomplishment in themselves. It didn't stop there, in fact in many ways - it only began after attaining these completions - (a metaphor contained with in the labyrinth's path & the title of the book)

Next came (and continues to be true) the ongoing promotion of the book, said another way, ongoing self-promotion. This in itself, is a journey that for me, has been replete with self-discovery. Essentially, if I forego the promotion of my book - it largely comes to a grinding halt. Though the book currently is cloaked in relative obscurity, without my focus and intention, it would drop off the radar entirely.

So you see it is my continued valuing of my previous effort, the book itself, belief in myself and the book's value as a tool to help others to identify goals/dreams of their own, determine what both their personal assets and those qualities (or limiting beliefs) are; which will help them on the road to realizing their dreams, or make it's attainment more difficult, respectively.

I do this knowing full well, that mine is not the variety of book that is for everyone. Oh anyone could utilize it, but many will not. Naturally to begin with, not everyone will resonate with my writing style or what I have to say. I also realize that a book that offers the story of and templates for, self exploration, won't necessarily be abundantly popular. It is a "road less traveled" for a reason - many don't care to go there. I don't always want to go there - even now, there are "blind spots," that I will come to discover about myself, and I know from experience, I'd rather have them be discovered in someone else. Still I know that as uncomfortable as some of this self-discovery can be - it most certainly leads to a great many rewards. But not, without doing the work of discovery first.

Why do I spend my time and effort on a book that might be the written equivalent of pushing a boulder uphill? (in terms of marketability)  Because I believe whole-heartedly in human potential - mine and yours. It doesn't matter where you've been and what you've done (or haven't done) - your life can be considerably different, no matter where you are starting from. I have experienced that in my life, as I have worked at digging myself out of my own personal hell, and drained the swamp - I began to dream of being of service to others that wish to do the same. This book is my first overture to that end, which combines my life experience, and my passion for writing.

Maybe I could make more money in a different genre, it doesn't matter, that's not where my heart is. This whole matter is my personal demonstration of living "my dream.." not someone else's. In living my dream I wouldn't dream, of not, "walking my talk." That's why I have no qualms about sharing my foibles - just because I am walking toward and in various ways living my dream, doesn't mean I don't step squarely into a big pile of, you know what, along the way, sometimes I'm the guy that built the pile. But I still am reaching for my dream and trusting in what I believe in.

The quest has been full of frustration, failure, unforeseen challenges, thrills, surprises, unforeseen support and opportunities; I wouldn't trade it for anything. 

There's never been any guarantees - there still isn't. I have a stack of boxes full of my books in my bedroom (in that sense you could say I'm "full of myself") - but as they say, "No guts, no glory" - I also have about as many books (gracefully stored for me) in Northern Ireland -left behind from the launch of the book over there & awaiting my resuming it's distribution. These mountains of books are both monument to a modicum of success and taunt me as talisman of potential, "close but no cigar!"

Just to further illustrate some form the challenge has taken, I was at a "Health/Wellness/Intuitive Arts expo one weekend - there I sat with my books for two full days. I believe I sold 4 and gave 2 away. Talked to a great many people, got "exposure" I wouldn't have had otherwise - who knows where that might lead. Meanwhile right beside me are two young guys selling rocks, raw crystals and jewelry made of the same - most of the weekend, there were people lined up three deep and they were taking in money hand over fist.

I have to admit at times I felt bewildered, befuddled and a little envious; It reminded me of the old Charlie Brown Halloween special (every house he went to he lamented: "I got a rock!" - yours truly's version would have been, "I got the table beside the guys, with the rocks!!"

Still, that is their passion (I presume) and I have my own - I will continue to follow my inspiration and work with and represent, what is true for me.

Friday, 1 June 2018

A Ride With Transformation


I did mention that I believed this return to riding might well provide fodder for ongoing anecdotes, today (Friday) ... for the "Spiritualist's" in the crowd: TGIF - reinforced my notion. Of course I'm inclined to weave a story around & about, most anything. I see the metaphor's and parable-esque potential - I hope that some (if not all of this) comes through & if nothing else; at least provides an amusement respite.

Today was to be the day I picked my motorcycle up from the shop. I had taken it out on Monday afternoon; so they would have it first thing Tuesday morning, to work out some customizing transformations, I had envisioned. I was to have the bike back by "Wednesday" eve. Dropped the bike off without a hitch and was then looking forward, to the return to ride, with the modifications. I received a call on Tuesday that wasn't what you'd call a inspiring progress report - some of the parts that had been ordered over a week prior (for rush delivery) had not arrived, not only that, the centre that sourced the parts had "lost" the order - all of which meant ... reordering - now the shipment they wouldn't even see until Thursday (a day after the promised delivery date). Upon hearing this, I applied the spiritual dictum: "Shit happens" & rolled with the punches. I received a call on Wednesday; that part way into one of the installations, the first nut that fastened the fender to its bracket apparently "stripped" - this meant the need for some sort of ingenuity, on the part of the technician - which both meant, it would still be successfully and properly completed ... but it was going to take longer. Now Friday at closing time, was the new projected finish and completion projection.

Why the modifications you might ask? I'd be happy to offer an explanation. After riding it fairly frequently over the last month since I purchased it - I began to realize what would make it more comfortable (ergonomically - which equals safety as well), the handle bars it came with; known as "drag bars" - (were a drag) they pitch your torso forward and my arms were pretty much locked out, I found after longer rides this positioning was tiring on my low back and neck and shoulders - hence new handle bar configuration. I was no "drag racer anyway!" The new ones affectionately known as "mini-apes" (versus full "ape-hanger" bars) are infinitely more comfortable for me and they have the added distinction of looking pretty decent too. Full "apes" are really high - I wasn't sure I wanted that extreme (nor the extra expense if I tried it and didn't like it).

The addition of the saddle bags allows for a little storage that doesn't have to be slung on my back - again - a feature that prevents additional fatigue. The "sissy bar" actually will allow for an additional bag - for road trips and could provide back support for a passenger (should I ever decide to take on the added responsibility of carrying someone).

There was no one available to give me a lift out to the shop today (logistics around afternoon rush hour traffic and the closing times, made it a little too tight for my liking). I had decided I could take a public transit bus out (the 45 min. ride to the town where the shop is located and that would put me in easy and reasonable cab distance for the remainder). I had begun the journey and while waiting for the second bus, I checked my phone and a message from the shop indicated everything was still on target for pickup just before closing.

I got off the bus at the town centre - both not knowing it's continued route beyond there, and where that would leave me, and I reasoned it would be an "easy" place to get a cab. I went into the nearby Starbucks for a snack and to kill a little time.

I started looking up cabs online - most of them listed were based back in Victoria. Each that I called informed me that they had no cabs out where I was, and that it would be at least an hour to get one out to me. No good, that would put me past closing time - a flaw in the plan!!

This would be the "where there's a will there's a way.... segment. I "Google" mapped a walking route - it indicated it would take fifty-odd minutes and might get me there after closing. I was both determined to get my bike today and sure I could cut time off that ETA (despite wearing heavy jeans, my heavy leather riding jacket and Blundstone boots - of course I was dressed to ride not "power-walk") -still, how else was I going to get there?!!

I began the walk; at least it was an overcast day and a little cooler than the temperatures we have been experiencing lately... certainly more conducive to this hike. I called the shop to tell them my situation ... both to let them know I'm coming - might be there at the 11th hr. now that I'm walking and to see if perhaps they'd offer to pick me up. No such offer was forthcoming so ... left.... left ... left ... right ... left...

I was nearing what would be the next turn which I was hoping would give me some idea of where I was, relative to the shop and whether I needed to pick up the pace, or continue at my current cadence. I was waiting at the cross-walk for the light to change, when I noticed a fellow sitting on his Suzuki - "crotch-rocket" motorcycle, I crossed in front of him and suddenly was struck by inspiration...

I got to the other side of the cross-walk and turned to look at him.... I walked toward him. Fortunately his light was still red. I asked him if he'd be willing to give me a lift to the Harley shop - "I'd give him $20.00.  He looked at me a little surprised... but he pulled over to the curb to let the rest of the cars go through the light, which had just changed and heard me out. He wasn't yay-ing or nay-ing - at which point I became a little conscious of - I can't wait too long here, if he says no, I still need to walk and I can't spare too much time.

He indicated he just wasn't sure what to do with the backpack he was wearing.... it would be in the way. I had thought that was the end of the line... then he said, "I just live around the corner, let me go and drop it off and I'll come back for you." Wow!! Cool!!

I stood at the corner waiting .... then began wondering, how long do I wait - to either allow him to get back or to preserve the time I need to continue walking if he doesn't come back... I didn't have time to consider it, has there he was at the intersection just waiting for the light to change.

He rode across to me and indicated that the riding/driving route, would be to turn right around and go the way he'd just come from... so "should you get on now, while I make that turn, or you cross the street and I'll pick you up on the other side?" "This will be very different he says..."

I opted to meet him on the other side of the rode. I have some experience being the passenger on a motorcycle - so I know to lean with the turns etc. I still have no idea exactly what way the walking route would have had me go (I'm not that familiar with all the streets out there)... but he got me there with time to spare - now I was actually early!!

I got off at the corner in front of the dealership - so he didn't have to deal with more turning around (with me on the bike) - I realized that he wasn't that accustomed to carrying a passenger. The first clue being that continued mantra of his..... "this is really different!!!" 

I thanked him (and my angels - for getting me there safely) and for saving the day! I jammed my hand in my pocket to get him the  money I promised him .... He said forget it, I'm good! Are you sure, I said, a deal is a deal!!? "No, it's fine," he says - I'm glad to help out a fellow biker!!" Wow, what a fortunate turn of events to find this "random" guy, of all those that I might have encountered! 

When jamming my hand in my pocket I caught under my finger nail on a watch-chain - that was a tad uncomfortable & I tried to hide both my grimacing and the free flowing blood as I bid my Suzuki driven guardian angel - Adieu!! A small price to pay to complete my day's mission & fortunately I had a box of bandages in my pack; that I had just bought on the way out - as I soon realized I needed to cover a raw spot on my heel; where hiking in these same boots, (and short socks) had created a hot spot.

I arrived inside to be informed the technician was just out with my bike, test driving it as part of their final inspection. So I enjoyed some iced tea they had on tap and wondered around in the sea of chrome and exotic paint jobs.

One more surprise before I got under way with my bike. There is a deficiency with one of the brake callipers - not an immediate hazard, however "something they should have found during the pre-sales inspection - so they have ordered the parts, will call me when they are in, to book the install & it's on their dime!!

A side from a light spattering of rain... it was like day and night riding my newly configured bike. I'm not an aggressive rider anyway - just the same I took it easy, this is the first rain for a while which means the roads could be greasy in spots and I wanted to ease myself into, the handling of the new bars etc.

My personal take-aways - I could have "made due" with the original bars. I actually voiced some concern about them when I was first looking at the bike - I decided to let the riding experience be the final judge. In hind-sight my "intuition" was telling me, this bike was not the perfect fit. I let my friend and the sales guy (both whom have considerably more riding experience than me..) give rise to self-doubt. The thing is, they have zero experience living in my body - so their experience is not invaluable - but I ought not allow it to override my guidance. It was suggested I could ride them for this "season" and change them out over the winter if need be. Yes, I could - but that would mean an entire riding season of not being comfortable ... mounting discomfort/fatigue, can become a distraction and a definite hazard - no dice, they will be changed now! My growing conclusion - DON'T SETTLE... you, me ... all of us, are worth far more, than second best!!

While I was chatting with the service manager outside while getting ready to leave; the parts manager I had been dealing with, came out to ask me how I like the "bars.." I said they look fantastic! It was then I noticed my original mirrors were back on the bike. Generally, what was taken apart being replaced is a good thing, except when you had ordered and paid for new mirrors!

I spoke up immediately and she said yes you were meant to get new mirrors; I saw them when I unpacked your parts order - just a moment, I'll go in and get them and put them on before you leave..

Ah... now that's what I'm talking about!! I strive to "encourage" people to live their integrity into being. I understand oversights are made and things often (maybe never go "exactly as planned") - I am grateful to be growing in my capacity to have more compassion both for myself and others.

Life is an apt teacher - and I, one that is brimming with potential, for ongoing growth and expansion. 

Thursday, 31 May 2018

The Monk That Bought a Harley

Can I, in clear conscience, claim to be a "Monk?" Well, I have been on an intentional "Spiritual path" for over 31 years. What of the other 27yrs. one might inquire?  Were they then, the "unspiritual" phase of my life? I would suggest, no they were not. They didn't contribute any less to my development - so perhaps then, the flip-side of the same coin. (It most certainly was me throughout!!)

Back to the question of being a monk. Consider I have shaved my head for the last fifteen years. I would suggest that presents the opportunity to allow the reflections of others (the less than helpful and the down-right pointless) to become, "water off a duck's back" (to "become water"- you thought I was going to start quoting Bruce Lee didn't you?). Of course there is a great deal more to the development and discipline of the monastic life than shaving ones head.

Recently I became curious what actually still grows on my head. Suffice to say, what fertile follicles remain will not likely yield me any style magazine photo-shoots. In very short order I restored the long held "part in my hair" (as in - I once again parted with all of it..) I felt peace and equilibrium restored the moment the scruff was removed. After 15yrs. I could fathom the need to own a comb again (not to mention "hair-care" products).. It seems to me far too much fuss is made about hair.

I'd say it's all indicative of my growing conclusion that "I" & none of "it" be taken too seriously. Oft times these spiritual tales involve someone renouncing vast material belongings and wealth, in order to become aware of their vast "inner wealth." I've renounced all kinds of shit! So what am I doing now, buying a Harley? And in the next breath claiming a continued spiritual path and monk status? Monk, mystic, healer, intuitive - maybe I'm all of it, maybe none of it - who care!!?

Maybe the next phase of my development is, renouncing - renouncing. Or at least, to stop considering I'm anything special that I have renounced something in the first place. I'm fed up with "special interest groups; many of whom position themselves, head and shoulders above others in other groups (or often even above those in the group they frequent). I deeply value inclusion and interconnection. Now I cannot renounce the groups that exercise this divineness - or I would be practicing the same exclusion. But I can no longer abide the crucifixion of someone by the group - just to secure my place within the group, the group simply isn't that important. (my integrity is a more pressing matter).

I belong to the human race, I have compassion for the pain and suffering of others but I don't believe anyone's suffering is quantifiably, more than another's.

Many people can tell you all day long how they have been victimized - but they grow mysteriously & suddenly silent when asked in what ways have they perpetrated pain and suffering.

I don't think I'm anything more or less that I own & ride a Harley. I'm aware of the privilege (which I won't apologize for) & I intend to thoroughly enjoy riding it. I am acutely aware of my mortality and the "risk" involved - neither the bike nor me are immortal (at least, not the physicality that rides it). I know nothing material can make me happy - including this bike. It doesn't mean for a minute I can't enjoy what the material world has to offer, while I can - then, when it's over, it's over.

This is not any "mid-life crisis" - I just said, I'm aware of my mortality, but I'm also too busy enjoying my life to dwell on regrets. I'm living now!

Why a "Harley?" Because I've always wanted one! Is it the only way to know the joy of soul freedom - of course not. In my case it is a fantastic means to experience my freedom of choice and you better believe, it's some kinda fun!!

Is life all about having fun? Well, maybe not entirely - but sure as shit, it's not about being a self-deprecating, insufferable martyr either!

Dreams can be realized here and now - who's to say "it's too late?"- except the one abandoning their dream. My book, "What Goes Around Comes Around" has a great many comprehensive guideline questions that people can use to examine their lives. To find out what they value, what they believe (or no longer believe) what is helpful to realize their visions and what is not..

I can't stand in that book and not live my dreams!

There is an immediacy present while riding, wind in the face (albeit also at times, some form of "747" from the insect kingdom ricocheting off my chin) - I have observed: deer, eagles, ravens, herons, butterflies, dragon flies. The visibility has also allowed me to see what I believe is far more turkey vultures than usual - this observance results in my "turning over" any stories I might imagine about why there are vultures circles overhead where I'm riding - it spoils the enjoyment factor.

I love the scenic seaside ride - I have walked those beaches, run parts of that route and sat on the beaches most of my life. The experience of the ever changing vistas while riding there are breath-taking. The physical proximity lends to this intimacy, as does the need to closely observe the physical environment for "risk factors - i.e. road conditions, other motor vehicles and pedestrians - all of which can go from benign sharing of the road to a clear and present danger instantaneously.

It's purely magical to ride through a blizzard of windswept blossoms from Victoria's legions of flowering trees. There is never just cause to seek a short cut when riding - an additional block or ten, just extends the fun. Of course on must reckon with their own limitations and get off and take a break to alleviate fatigue. Though appearances might suggest otherwise in some cases, motorcycling calls for the maintenance of physical fitness and coordination (consider both hands are need to operate clutch on one side, throttle and front brake on the other - and steer, one foot for the gear shift and the other for the rear brake).

Presence isn't any longer just a "New Age" buzz word, it can literally be a life saving state of mind.

The mechanical power of a motor cycle is staggering. With just the twist of the wrist one can go from zero to "Holy Shit" in seconds. Still, I'm not suffering under any illusion that this is the "power" referred to and sought after, in spiritual pursuit.

Just the sae a good ride is for me a joyful and transcendent experience.

Who's to say that what one person considers fraught with peril; or nothing more, than and ego-feeding compensation - isn't for another, the epitome of self-connection and meditation in motion.

Does this then mean I will join ranks with the other "bikers" to form my new community? Not necessarily - while there can be some enjoyment and camaraderie in socializing with those with common interests, I (being who I am)  don't align with the bravado, machismo, and associated vibe that can be found in some circles.

I may be clad in leather while I ride; this represents my want to avoid (should I ever dump the bike) the severity of an asphalt assisted weight loss program. I both seek being comfortable in my skin and I want to keep it too!!

I'm not "too cool for school" never was, never will be! This then is just another semester in my life long curriculum.

I did register and ride in a "charity ride" with 40 or 50 others riders. The ride was put on as a fundraiser for a group in town here called "Bikers Against Child Abuse..." It was amazing to be in a procession of 50 (mostly Harleys) and know the money was going to support this very worthy cause.

Thursday, 10 May 2018

Wandering, Worrying, Wondering.....

What compels
You ask,
That I
As one that
Is the consort
Of Saints 
Ascended Masters?

A self-loathing
So complete
To embrace
In truth
To me
Far more painful
My self-deception!!

"Spiritual name-dropping"
A desperate ploy
To attain
The love
That I 
Insisted on renouncing
From myself.

I seek 
A love/God
That is real
To me..
No longer
For personal
Too long
Has my ladder
The wrong wall..

I seek
No further accolades
For my heart's plea
For clemency
From my 
Personal hell

I pray
For grace
For which
My response
Is to be
Profound appreciation
Awe & reverence
I am worthy
Not necessarily deserving
And certainly not

My life choices
Have groomed me
Near exclusively
To become
Vaguely acquainted

My God
A lifetime spent
Beating my chest
Quivering beneath
A quagmire
My own shame.

Either way
Demanding - "my due.."
To vast tides
Ample cause
For gratitude
To release
My grip upon
Self-perceived persecution 
Or to relax
Self-appointed haughtiness
That I might
Come to my knees.

What time remains?
Can a lifetime
Be reconciled
A personal Autumn
Upon the horizon?

How broad 
Is the embrace
For one 
Modern day Prodigal Son?

I have 
No answers
Though I'm told
Hold the key

I know nothing
Of the heart's 
Of history's
"Sinners and Saints"

What if
This were 
The last call
For reconciliation?

What could possible
As more pressing
Than my heart's 

R. O'Neill (May 10th, 2018)

Tuesday, 24 April 2018

The Art of Center (Ring)

A recent set of circumstances have given rise to a very vivid example of the power of the mind. Given I'm no expert on neuro-sciences, consciousness or the effects of trauma on present day life etc. I won't presume to make sweeping conclusions about "the mind" in general. I certainly can speak with authority where recounting my own experiences is concerned.

It was nearly two weeks ago this saga began. I had been at a friends place that evening; to participate in a spiritual circle. The next morning (now back at my own home) and preparing to go away for the weekend to Vancouver; I discovered a ring of mine was missing. I remembered wearing it the previous night. It is quite a unique piece, with a very distinct stone. Within the stone there are various colour gradations which are rather mesmerizing - I remember looking at the stone, while the circle was underway.

Try as I might, I couldn't recall the events of the evening, with respect to what I might have done, with the ring. Generally there are a few places at home I would set it down, either to wash dishes, the bathroom or my night stand. One place further is a catch-all when I'm emptying my pockets - the kitchen counter, I fully expected, to find it in one of these spots as I was getting packed. When it didn't appear in any of them  - this would be place in time, when my mind started to become less than helpful. This, despite the fact, that it was still attempting to reenact the evening and remind me of where I "normally" put it.

I was both aware that I didn't want to scuttle our plan to catch a noon ferry; while at the same time, I was not wanting to go without finding the ring. I continued to prepare to leave while looking as I did so. I re-checked numerable times the places it "should be" (because you know, if my insistence that it be where it's supposed to be, is asserted with enough vigour - surely that will produce the ring!! In case you didn't already guess - that strategy was absolutely fruitless. The longer I kept coming up empty-handed, the greater was my level of agitation.

I began affirming that I wasn't going to let this spoil our weekend away. I began to wax spiritual with regard to impermanence etc. These perspectives were only mild consolation. I was not prepared at this point to "let go" of the ring. I was begrudgingly willing to abandon the search - in favour of getting to the ferry terminal on time.

Some additional factors that were influencing my mood were: the ring, which as I said is rather unique (at least here - given it came from Iran) it was given to me by a friend at a ceremony  - the ceremony was to honour the launch of my book. So to say I was emotionally invested in this ring would indeed be accurate. There were a great many energies present for me within my heart regarding this ring.

But that's not the end of the voices that contributed to my angst. From somewhere within my psyche chimes in: "You have no appreciation for anything of value," "When are you going to learn to be more responsible?" "You'd loose your head if it wasn't attached!!" "How could you be so careless?" "Do you have any idea, what it takes to provide you with........??"

Clearly this litany of shaming assertions wasn't much of a moral booster - what made it worse, was there was no one around but me! So regardless where I may have sourced these admonishments - it was me, that was now running them and directing them at myself.

I gathered my baggage (both for the weekend excursion & that which dredged up) and got on my way to pick up my friend and head for the ferry. I wasn't exactly the paragon of inner peace and joy on the way to the ferry. My accounting for these spectres of the past played out more like a self-thrashing. I did eventually drop it. The weekend was pleasant on the whole with nothing further arising that was directly attributable to the ring.

When I got home I resumed the search - checking all the same places I had already searched and re-searched. Then began looking in more obscure places - to no avail. I was sad and disappointed to lose the ring. I didn't relish telling the friend that gifted it to me of it's demise. There was the underlying foreboding of being chastised/punished, the shame of having lost it, the fear of how I was going to be seen. The ring most certainly became a portal to a vast under-tow of my "shadow."

Interesting the whole time I kept getting this imagery of taking it off to wash my hands .... (but then what?) I asked my friend to check with her son and see if he had come across it and set it aside. Still nothing..

I decided to get another ring - still convinced that this one would surface. It fits too well to just fall off. I actually got to a place where I could acknowledge - as conscientious and methodical as I try to be there are "gaps" & if I did "lose" the ring none of the self-admonishment barrage was true.

I resigned myself that the replacement ring would be a new ring - but not a replacement & nothing like the previous one. I found an interesting ring in an Egyptian import store. It has symbols on it for "protection," "rebirth," & "eternal life." I decided to go ahead and purchase it.

I began wearing it immediately and in & of itself it began to grow on me. I held off telling the friend about the loss of the other ring. I kept "seeing" the original ring - in particular the stone. I just carried on my day to day life doing what was in front of me to do. All the while I kept getting the impression of both the stone and taking it off to wash my hands - neither of which were doing anything to relocate the ring.

Today I was getting ready to go down town I put on a light weight hoodie to wear under another jacket. As I was squaring myself in the garment .... I brushed both sides over the pockets - I felt what I immediately recognized as the shape of "the ring.." I put my hand in the pocket and sure enough there it was. Ironically, I have worn that same hoodie I time or two since being back in Victoria and it wasn't until today that the ring was discovered. It, I suppose, had been there the whole time. Had I allowed the whole imagery to play forward - the "took it off to wash my hands" - may have concluded with, I put it in the pocket of the green hoodie ( I was wearing it the night of the circle, after which the ring had "vanished.") while I washed my hands.

What an ordeal the mind (my mind) is capable of creating. I am happy to have the ring back. I am also grateful for the insight I received about myself, as a result of its disappearance. I have no idea about the monetary value of the ring in question - but the journey into myself that resulted is priceless.

Here I thought I was searching or a "missing ring," - apparently I was also searching for some missing truth about myself. Another brick in the road toward humility - I don't know if I'll ever attain any but reckoning with myself - certainly gives me a good taste every now & again!!

R. O'Neill (April 24, 2018)

Thursday, 19 April 2018

Heart's Evolution

Will today 
Truly be 
My day?
To be sure
I awaken
To a day
Replete with
 Infinite potential

Have waged
A war
A life time
My very
Hinged on
My signature
The reach
Of mortality

My effort
To remain
One step
Of being
By an 
 Irreverent conformity 
Terminal uniqueness
The fabric of
Compassion & connection
That which
I feared 
The most
Collateral damage
Became inconsequential
Vastly less important
Than "survival"
Sheer will-power
For so long
Wielded defensively
Near becoming
My undoing
Redirected to
No longer
Waging war

I belong 
To my heart
My heart
To the world

A heart centred 
Provides meaning
That moment to moment
Expresses the soul
While honouring others
It calls
For attentive listening
And inspired action
But "against" no one.

R. O'Neill (April 19, 2018)

Tuesday, 10 April 2018

A Moment for the Dance

By an 
Unseen song

First a gentle sway
To & fro
To follow,
An alluring
Tempo acceleration
Rhythmic undulation
A uniform gyration
Come hither

I'm captivated
By the 
Visual symmetry
A lower lip
Set to quiver
I swallow hard
Vision softens
Eyes brimming 
With a 
Flood of delight
I'm swept away

Inner experience
External display
Become one
Life force energy
Pulses ecstatically
Corporeal confinement

A breath caught short
While a heart expands
Beyond four chambers
To embrace infinity
Such splendour
Tantalizing & mesmerizing 
In equal portions

Emerald fields 
Of Spring's resurrection
My deep appreciation 
For the dance.

R. O'Neill (April 10th, 2018)

Thursday, 29 March 2018

Can I Have Your Attention Please?

Will you allow
The stillness
To engulf
The abstract din
Of your familiarity
That which even now
Renders your presence
An unconscious two-step

A more penetrating 
Between the breaths
Your heart
Whispers to you
A sweet refrain
From a part of
You've yet to meet

Step boldly
Beyond the horizon
Of your 
Cast aside
The clouds
Of resignation
Make ready
To welcome
The dawning zenith
Of your
Realized potential

Your heart knows
Far more 
Than your eyes
Can see
Just beyond 
Who you have
Thought yourself
To be
Is that
Which you 
Truly are!

Will you then 
Leave unanswered
The knock 
On the door
To yourself?

Have been
Kept waiting
A very long time!

R.O'Neill (March 29, 2018)

Tuesday, 27 March 2018


I shudder with recognition
To realize that
The life-long trail 
Of abandonment & betrayal
To my own address
The "smoking gun"
With a mosaic
Of my fingerprints.

Rolling away 
The stone
That entombed my heart
A long seized gateway
Is swung open
To reveal
The garden

While kneeling
To pray
I wonder
Just how often 
Have I forsaken?
Whom has been left
To vanquish alone?
Their prayer request
Falling upon 
The deaf ears
Of my indifference 
And self-concern
How deep has
the betrayal run?

How complete its taint?
No alibi nor rationalization
Regardless of the sophistication
Of its composure
Absolves my compliance
Nor separates me
From the rabble

In terms of person acquaintance 
I have met none
That have "missed the mark"
Greater than I.

No confession nor indictment
The key to freedom
Extricated by the sword of Truth

My condemnation
Cannot hold a candle
To the forgiveness rendered
Nor the magnitude 
Of its Source

Grateful, humbled &
Eager to serve

The roaming Prodigal son
 Love, Forgiveness, God (Father/Mother)
Far closer to home
Than ever before


R. O'Neill (March 27, 2018)

Thursday, 22 March 2018

Spring's Fling

In a region
Of a country
With a citizenry
For whom
Threatens to tip 
The scale
To the realms 
Of pathology
And protracted winters
Are the Norm
As only she can
Lines the lane ways
With explosions
Bubble gum hued
Popcorn blossoms
Then seen
Rhythmically waving
To all passersby
The wind-song Aria 
From our diva
The Salish sea
That embraces
Our wee 

There are those 
That would presume
To count them

I prefer to 
Drink them in
Express my 
Profound appreciation
To their Creator
And my good fortune
To witness
Equinox's pageantry

R. O'Neill (March 22, 2018)

Number Please (come in)

Far be it from me to push the river! By this I mean, later this year (which means currently, I'm moving toward) I will mark my 59th year on the planet. This assumes sometime between now and then it hasn't been pre-ordained, that it's time for me, to "break on through.." I'm not much of a "mathematician" ( I did a short stint in "Adult Education" post high school, many years ago, just to prove to myself, if I really wanted to, I could "do math.." - beyond a certain point, I didn't want to continue ... as I proved my point, and there was no further point)..... still I do find a certain allure to numbers, sometimes. So then, this year would delineate my 59th year, as one born in '59.

What is the significance of this? Damned if I know! Maybe nothing more than I find it personally satisfying. I don't actually need another reason. However, if one were to consider that when I was approaching 28yrs. of age (which would occur on August "28th") I had pre-meditated my forced exit - so in fact I was fully prepared to "push the river..." in the form of suicide.

Clearly that I am now sitting here "penning" this missive, it can be concluded, I wasn't successful with that particular vision. This gives rise to another number - 31. As in, it's been thirty-one years since I last used any illicit drugs or alcohol. To be allowed to proclaim this means, I've bucked the odds for quite some considerable time now.

I am entirely comfortable crediting the dramatic turn of events in my life to God; while at the same time, I am delighted to assert; for the most part I don't know what that "means.." I began an exploration of some form of "relationship" with "a Power greater than myself..." out of desperation. Generally I feel happy and grateful that the quality of my life, just continues to be more satisfying; while I exercise continued curiosity, passion, intrigue and surrender,  (and sometimes unbridled rage and exasperation) to that which I call God.

Within this continued "quest," it isn't required that I "define," prove the existence of, engage in debate, adopt anyone else's understanding, dogma or belief system, about God.

This is relationship that is reconnecting me to my heart. As such it seems only fitting to me that this restoration is for the purpose of giving my heart to the relationship. Not out of obligation, guilt, shame or as some sort of bargaining chip; the determining factor, is the joy of a heart returned to a connection with its source.

A wandering heart that finds itself at last, "at home.." need not question further its belonging nor argue for its purpose ... it just needs to continue being (at home).

I enjoy both a continued exploration into my self and through that, "God" and freedom from the need to try and convince anyone of God's existence, the nature of that God, or how they must conduct themselves in relation to that God.

If peace is one of the consequences of a connection with God - I certainly question any that feel it necessary to force feed anyone else, their version of God. If one has attained this state of peace - why would there be a need to convince anyone else of the ways, means and path to that peace. Just be, at peace. Allow the peace of God to speak for itself. To me if someone is intent on convincing me of the truth of their path - the fact they need my affirmation of that, suggests to me they are not convinced and secure with what they are espousing.

Faith, trust, love, forgiveness. I am growing in my willingness to choose and practice these ways of being. I don't hold myself as perfect, that I hold this vision for myself. I try not to chastise myself that I don't always embody perfect attainment of these qualities. I don't excuse myself as being "only human" when I miss the mark. I'm committed to the ongoing discovery of the best possible version of myself.

I still consider myself to be on a "spiritual" path. I would no longer state that all those that are members of a particular faith path are then "religious" and need be cast aside with the bathwater. There are most certainly those that are deeply "spiritual" that attend regular "mainstream" religious gatherings. Even those that in this moment don't "appear" to be conducting themselves in accordance with the tenants of their religion - who's to say that current behaviour, isn't part of the path to their "awakening." All beings are far more vast than any in the moment snapshot I can glean when I happen to look their way.

I find myself in churches with relative frequency. Sometimes for a short interlude of prayer/contemplation in the midst of a day. I don't consider myself religious. I am drawn to find the truth within the teachings of Jesus - I'm also equally drawn to the teaching found through nature (which I incidentally believe to have been utilized by Jesus himself and Francis of Assisi).

Just last weekend I attended a Taize (singing/chant) gathering - Christian in it's orientation, a circle rooted in Sufi mysticism and a fire circle facilitated by a First Nations elder on a mountain which is part of the traditional lands of the peoples of the valley.

The richness I experienced in terms of the presence of the sacred, heart connection, community/fellowship in each of these gathering and collectively, was truly soul-quenching. I find no reason to exclude any one path, in favour of the others. In fact, my heart yearns for the inclusion of all peoples under one roof; a universal collective - where all are honoured, nobody is left on the outside, each contributes the pearls of their own wisdom and experience - everyone leaves deeply enriched and enlivened.

I'm not even remotely interested in hearing this vision is "unrealistic.." I choose to deal in what is possible. I choose to uphold that which I glean from history's great teachers, leaders, sages. I don't claim that I have entirely overcome myself - which continues to challenge me, to live into the vision that drives me. I simply don't have the heart to leave anyone in the cold. Or alternatively perhaps it could be said I have the heart that values and embraces inclusion.

What do the opening references to numbers have to do with where this post ultimately meandered? Maybe nothing, if direct correlation is your defining criteria. However if one considers that whatever the initial spark of an "idea" was, that it is the launch pad/portal to my written exploration of the mystery - then perhaps you can enjoy the surprises, of the journey as much as I do when I'm writing them.

If not, well thanks for coming by anyway! Please come again!