Saturday, 30 June 2018

You are Welcome Here!

This reassurance is ushered in from the Desiderata:

" You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees & the stars; you have a right to be here."

"No less than the trees or the stars!" In fact it is said, we are made from the same microscopic raw materials. But if knowing your composite makeup, doesn't go very far to making you "feel welcome" in the world - you need not wait around for someone to give you permission for being (with the exception of the man or woman in the glass) - if he or she is anything like me - they could be a stalwart holdout. You are welcome, wanted and needed here; so am I.

We are here; therefore we already have the "permission" to be. How utterly sad it is to realize how thoroughly, so many, continue to discount themselves. I found it very painful to realize the mistaken beliefs I had taken on (it matters very little to me any more, where they were sourced); the impact that living with these beliefs had upon my life and the continued believing of them, was in effect, a choice. It would be considerably more sad to live out my entire life in such a way. So increased awareness has been both painful and liberating.

I'm not saying that there has been an overnight reversal of such ways of thinking and behaving - but neither is it cast in stone.

It is a refreshing mind-set to realize "I belong!" (well except in those places and situations where I don't) but often even there, my voice, my experience, my needs and my truth; have as much value as anybody else's. My approval and belief in these matters for myself; is far more important, than whether anyone else believes, it for me.  I'm the one that needs to be a stand and expression of myself. Therefore this "allowance" for myself to be there must become well assimilated.

One might ask - how could anyone possibly "believe" - they don't belong? It's not up to me to tell you  for whom and in what way, this is true; that is why I tell my story. I can assure you, I have felt this way and I have encountered scores of others for whom this is also true. You might be surprised, what the truth, behind many a social facade, would reveal.

But if one can begin to entertain the idea of a universe made up of love; contrary to what appears to be endless evidence to the contrary; then they might slowly begin to realize, that this love exists equally for them.

I believe it will always be true for me that there are far more questions than answers. Frankly, to a large extent, I don't even know, what I don't know. Nonetheless the sun shines unconditionally upon me and I'm given ample air to breath. Best of all - I'm not in control of any of it. What a relief!!

Boxes and labels exist in droves. I recommend a mental vacation from as many as possible. Meditate on who you are without those defining ("Limiting") frameworks. Rather than concern yourself about fitting into any of them - spend the time getting to know who lives inside your skin and get comfortable in it.

If I can be home and in a place of love and acceptance within my skin.... there is no place and nobody outside myself, that can or will make that any better.

R. O'Neill (June 30, 2018)

Friday, 29 June 2018

Extremes - A Unique Form of Hell

The pearl from Desiderata today is:

"Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself."

To begin with what is the intended meaning of "discipline?" I believe it useful to make the distinction that discipline is not synonymous with punishment. Certainly it has been framed that way in some mindsets. Workplaces(employers) have their own "justice" policies; and straying from their criteria, can result in facing "disciplinary action!" Fair enough, an employer needs some recourse to address employee abuse of "the system." But many of these policies, amount to manipulation and coercion. If you ran an ethical business, which respected the truth, that your business wouldn't be, if it weren't for the employees that operate it; there would likely be, far less opposing of workplace policies. Just because it has been drafted by "management," doesn't make it humane, compassionate or even attainable.

Society has a myriad of different forms and application of "discipline." None of which benefit, or are life enriching, for the recipient.

Discipline in the context of the Desiderata, refers to the day to day focus, of energy and attention to "getting it done." It might begin with what might seem the simplest and most benign of tasks. For example, when you get up ... make the bed. Personal hygiene, decent nutritional intake, adequate rest (did you floss your teeth today? .... this year?)

I'm not sure I have mastery where "discipline" is concerned. I have made strides toward improvement for sure. I used to be convinced that discipline, order, routine, were the bane of a "free spirited" person, such as myself. The problem with that assessment was, I wasn't "free." There was a great deal of order & routine in my family home. Discipline (to be fair) was present in the various forms that were effective and beneficial, for my parents. It also existed in the form of punishment (that which amounts to physical abuse as well as emotional). My dad was in the military and my mom was an operating room nurse - both steeped then, in systems of order, hierarchy, power over etc.

What I called "freedom" was just out and out rebellion toward anything that paralleled my childhood home. Nothing wrong with standing up against tryanny, human rights abuses, inhumane policies.. but what I'm talking about is, I was often a, "cut off my nose to spite my face form of rebel!" This was not authentic soul/heart inspired action in the world. This was knee-jerk, reactionary (I don't care if what you are suggesting is in my best interest  - YOU cannot tell me what to do!!") Does that sound even remotely like "free spirited..?"

There came a time where collectively and incrementally my life had to be rigorously scrutinized. It became clear that my claimed plying for freedom, was "freeing" me - of innumerable forms of success, self-respect, any semblance of inner peace, and the list goes on.

My "river" had absolutely no banks - this is the extreme I chose. Of course when I was younger I "studied" - rehearsed and memorized poetry etc.; so it wasn't as though discipline, was an entirely foreign concept. But as got older, teenage years and beyond, my resistance increased, I wouldn't listen to anyone and I certainly wouldn't ask for help. As far as I can determine, this was a infallible way, to glean the hard way to most everything. Perhaps Nietzshe was right; "What doesn't kill you, makes you stronger." But - "Heavens to Murgatroyd!!"

All that remains is my continued journey with self-compassion, understanding and self-love. There are reasons I made the choices I made... but I am determined, that they won't shape the rest of my life.

Speaking of "self-love" - it turns out "discipline" can be a right and proper form of loving one's self. If I want to give myself the gift of being successful at various pursuits; some discipline in the form of (well first of all) actually starting, continuity, prioritizing, stick-tuitiveness, resilience, determination, ability to put myself (and my vision) first, are a great assortment of tools to have in the box. Turns out the river has some form which directs it and to ensure it gets where it is going. I suppose you could say, I too always, "got where I was going," it was never clear at the onset, where that might be and usually my arrival was marked by - "how the hell did I get here?"

The second half of today's guidance ("be gentle with yourself") - would be another consideration from within the container of self-love. I hope I have made a "case" for some self-discipline, order, form, routine etc. As with most anything these useful approaches can be taken to extremes. Is this conjecture you might ask? NO! Take it from the guy, that has spent vast amounts of time, plying the waters of "extremes."

Too much discipline can become rather tyrannical. This looks like ruthless self-criticism and punishment for any minor lapse in "discipline." It doesn't allow for any "ebb & flow." It's not hard to imagine what - go, go, go.... without any concern for stop (rest) might look like. So then discipline might sometimes look like knowing when to withdraw - it's not all about push, there's a time and place for release.

If one has had a challenge in their life saying "No." Then it can become rather barren to swing the pendulum all the way to the other extreme. (i.e. "I don't care what the question is, the answer is no!)

So a paradox exists here. It is readily considered discipline: to strive, reach, push, sacrifice, exert etc. but how much do you hear, about the discipline of: being gentle with yourself, listening to your body (your heart & soul) learning the difference between quitting (self-love) & that which is self-sabotage.
Learning to trust your instincts, preferences, energies etc. rather than allow others to dictate.

Taking a self-loving stance in the world - hasn't eliminated the ever present influences from outside myself. But it has set me on a path of learning about and practicing to be steadfast, rather than a "bull in the china shop!"

R. O'Neill (June 29, 2018)

Thursday, 28 June 2018

Consumed by that Which You Feed

As the guidance of Desiderata continues to unfold we are given this:

"But do not distress yourselves with dark imaginings." "Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness."

Mark Twain once said, "I'm an old man and have known many troubles, but most of them never happened."

"Worry" has been defined as, an unhelpful use of the imagination. I can certainly attest to good time poorly spent, ruminating in what amounts to dark fantasy. Projecting "real" or imagined outcomes, on something that hasn't even happened yet. The end result, well frankly, scaring the shit out of myself!!

Even when some of what I feared did come to pass - it wasn't nearly as grave as what I imagined it. Aren't there enough frightening realities in the world without one terrorizing themselves?

A Cherokee story tells of a White wolf and a Black wolf with each of us. One representing Love, generosity, forgiveness, compassion, hope light. The other, Hatred, rage, pride, intolerance, fear, darkness - respectively.

Which one will win out in the end? The one you feed.

To address the second line, while it's useful at times, to allow time for solitude and contemplation; complete isolation is a breeding ground for fear and suffering. Everyone needs the love, support and positive reflections of others sometimes.

The twelve step movement - spawned (at least it's where I heard it first) the acronym: "HALT" which stands for Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired.

It is suggested that if any one of these or combination thereof, is found to be excessive, some sort of self-loving intervention is called for - as one is not "at their best" during these extremes.

So if you are "Hungry" - Eat (ideally something nutritious and not as a means of "coping" with the rest of the Acronym)

If your Angry: learn to express that in a healthy manner.

If you're Lonely - pick up the phone (I know, I know - sometimes you'd think that phone weighs about a kazillion pounds!!)

If you are Tired: Get some rest.

Simple, straight forward guidance... yet powerful.

Learn to observe your thoughts - and replace the self-critical, doom and gloom, with something that is at least a little more hopeful.

Perhaps that is the time to call that trusted friend, so they can remind you who you are, beyond this current negative tail-spin.

This has nothing to do with "due diligence" - one should at least consider their choices and do some homework first. What we're talking about here, amounts to a habituated inclination to "catastrophize."

There will be enough unforeseen hurdles that will present on a chosen path. Better one prepare themselves to overcome these challenges, rather than frighten themselves so badly, they don't even begin.

I'm going to say, a failed attempt is preferable to the regret of never having tried.

R. O'Neill (June 28, 2018)

Blowing in the Wind

Desiderata goes on to say:

"Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune."

If you've spent any appreciable time on Mother Gaia then you know, life is going to take all sorts of unimagined twists and turns and often times, with little or no warning.

I used to think at times this was the Universe, God or life itself, "punishing me." I know longer believe this at all. In fact I believe what could be considered the opposite. God, Creator, Great Spirit (insert the name that works for you) wants each of us, to "be all that we can be." (no this isn't that lame promotion to join the army) - if that is your passion, then do what you will. I will continue to envision a world, that makes armies & war redundant.

There's an old saying: "A ship is safe in the harbour, but that's not what ships were built for" Somewhere in the windmills of my mind, there is a reference to, any ship's captain worth their salt, having been tempered far from shore (likely in variations of rough seas). I can't remember nor find it, but you get the idea.

So I don't strictly speaking, believe in a heavenly presence - that arbitrarily chucks shit at me, just to shake things up. Nor do I believe that God will prevent me, from experiencing the various snarls and tangles along my path. In many cases, I have made choices, that put me on course for a mighty pratfall. It is through navigating these challenges (created & "arbitrary") that a greater array of inner qualities become honed.

So rather than consider that a "Loving God" - wouldn't let anything happen to me; consider the "character building" that is allowed to develop through adversity. I can assure you, I'd likely have developed no backbone at all, if everything was just continually handed to me on a platter.  Maybe there are those that began on the "straight and narrow" and stayed there - good on ya! I strayed pretty much everywhere else - it wasn't until I felt the full frontal attack, of the "err of my ways," that it "occurred" to me, it was necessary to chart a new course. It's nothing short of a miracle that I survived my choices.

Desiderata refers here, to something a kin to "money in the bank." A reserve of sorts, that is there before the shit hits the fan. How would one go about "nurturing" that? Well, you can't necessarily foresee what inner qualities might be required. However, many of these qualities are "transferrable skills" - so consciously go out and challenge yourself under shall we say, "controlled conditions." (the only control being; you set out to face yourself, in what you knew in advance, was approaching the outer limits of your comfort zone).

My experience is, in such arenas there exists for me, ample substance for personal growth. If I close the curtains and hide under the blankets (and I have) while there might be a place for "rest" or revitalization; hiding from my challenges (which is futile anyway) cannot begin to foster, any resilience. What ever the challenge be (known or unknown) chosen or not; to get through it, never mind what the out come might be, getting through - pays dividends in confidence building. Of course you won't ever necessarily encounter, that exact same challenge again - but you might. Nevertheless, it's useful to be able to say of a current challenge, I've been through far worse than this!! I don't like this, but I can handle it.

I'm not advocating a "me against the world" posturing - everyone can use some support at one time or another. However, even still, one must find it within themselves, to bring the ship back to the harbour.

Sometimes (often times) at least based on my experience, I might have no idea how to bring the ship around or even where the damn harbour is - this is when it is particularly good, to have exercised some development of trust and faith in Spirit.

Some of my greatest "victories" I have no idea how "I" did it - oh sure, I participated but I know I can't take all the credit.

R. O'Neill (June 27, 2018)

Tuesday, 26 June 2018


Today's examination of Desiderata focuses on this line:

"Take kindly the counsel of years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth."

This is something that flies in direct contrast to the ways of the Western world. Some liken the treatment of our "seniors" to the "warehousing of people." There is huge money involved in the "care" & housing of seniors, one could easily have their life savings, liquidated and transferred into the hands of the private corporate residences. Overall there is not nearly the same reverence and respect for the life experience and wisdom of seniors in our culture. There has been such an emphasis and valuing placed on participation in the "economy" through working, that literally, once people are no longer engaged in the "nine to five" (rat-race) they are no longer considered "viable, productive or making any further useful contribution."

It is a very sad dehumanization that occurs.

Is it any wonder that many seniors suffer depression and cognitive deterioration - imagine the prospect of looking at yourself in the mirror day after day; and further internalizing, that you are no longer valued. Who wouldn't want to "check out?"

So one could both value the wisdom and experience of seniors/elders in their lives; as well, they could honour and value the experience of their own life journey as the sands of time continue to flow. I don't think it's necessary to abandon altogether qualities such as "idealism, enthusiasm, vision" etc. (which are often attributed to "youth.") but as one "ages" - perhaps a greater appreciation for mortality ensues and one learns a thing or two about "choosing their battles." They have learned to temper some of the perhaps more impulsive ways of being in the world. Nothing wrong with spontaneity; but there is a great deal to be said, for action taken, counselled by the voice of experience.

Young people absolutely have a voice worth hearing. They have the energy and vision to see changes made that can and does - get it done; while at the same time their zeal, passion and lack of experience, can result in not always be the most helpful combination of energies.

Somewhere along the way ideally I believe the "counsel of years" - will have fostered and nurtured qualities like self-love, compassion, empathy, understanding... so that as one is gradually faced with various aspects of their youth, giving way to whatever realities present with "aging;" it can be embraced with grace. Aging doesn't have to mean - "being put out to pasture;" while at the same time,  there certainly can be a sense of loss and need to grieve some of "what was," but it's not necessarily a bad thing, that - "you're only young once!"

R. O'Neill (June 26th, 2018)

What's Love Got to Do With it? (Only everything)

As I continue to interpret Desiderata, the next line for consideration is:

"Neither be cynical about love; for in the face of all aridity & disenchantment it is as perennial as the grass."

First of all regarding this matter of my stated interpretation; does that mean mine is the final word on Desiderata? Absolutely not! It's how it speaks to me now and how I relate it's teachings and wisdom to different aspects of my life. Another time, my deepening understanding or new life experience, might have me telling a different story.

The message I receive through this particular passage is to spare myself the disappointment and suffering of "giving up on love." I understand love to be always present, all the time. It is my resistance to love, that can run interference and not allow it in my experience. The good news (depending on how one looks at it; is, that regardless of whether one perceives a lack of love from those around them - I (they) can always be the channel through which love is allowed to flow.

I can't very well lament the lack of love (in the world, in a particular environment, in my relationships etc. - if I'm refusing to bring love to the situation (allow love). This would be another one of those "responsibility" scenarios. Responsibility not implying that it falls on my shoulders only to be willing to be a channel of love; but a defining of "responsibility" as my ability to respond (with love) or allow the love (already) present to flow freely through me.

Each person is called to be an expression of love in the world. It doesn't mean everyone answers that call. We are all free to decline the invitation. No question I have blamed other people, God, love itself, for pain that I associated with "opening to love" - or allowing myself to be what I perceived as "vulnerable." It didn't occur to me that love was never lacking, what was, was my willingness to be an expression of love. I created the "aridity" - and then through my own projection I became disenchanted with this "poorly performing" love that wasn't meeting my expectations.

Francis of Assisi set out a wonderful guide in the form of his prayer:

Which begins My Creator, make me an instrument of your peace
Where there is hatred let me sow love....... etc.

I believe after I complete the Desiderata writing I will move on to this beautiful prayer - so I won't transcribe the whole thing here now.

What I glean from the prayer is that his suggestion/guidance/request, is that in response to various darkness/negativity etc. - he's not saying, go ahead and dish out retribution, offensive responses etc.

He's asking that it be found and enacted from within him (through him) the various faces of love.

A response of love will transform all scenarios of duality (i.e. win/lose ... lose/lose) to win-win!!

Frankly, nothing could be simpler. However, I'm not saying that it's easy.

R. O'Neill (June  25, 2018)

Sunday, 24 June 2018

Truth - The Freedom to be Yourself

The next pearl of wisdom (suggestion) from Desiderata reads:

"Be yourself." "Especially do no feign affection."

As William Shakespeare wrote: "To Thine Own Self be True." "And it must follow, as the night the day, thou  canst not then false to any man."

Sadly, there may well be more people than it might be realized, that never really live from the truth of themselves. So pervasive is family programming, societal indoctrination, religious tenets (which affect even those that have never set foot in a church). Telling people what they want to hear.... how frequently is this ploy utilized in job interviews? for example -  "Oh yes, I'm more than willing to work any of the shifts... day or night!!" People (in some cases) will lie their face off to get that job - knowing full well, or at least strongly expecting, they won't enjoy working "grave-shift" at all! Why not show up at the interview (if you aren't an entrepreneurial sort) and tell it like it is!) Maybe you won't get that job, maybe the person conducting the interview is impressed with your authenticity (it's probably refreshing after all the b.s. and brown-nosing they've experienced) maybe there's another job you'd be perfectly suited for. Maybe in their professional networks, they know of someone else looking for someone like you (notice I said "you" - not someone, that is trying to be someone else) doing the chameleon thing. People are going to see through that eventually, it doesn't take long to realize someone doesn't show up consistently.

There never has been anyone just like you, and there never will be again. So why not put some focus and attention into showing up as you? The world doesn't need a duplicate of someone else. You've seen the "science-fiction" movies with the whole communities or armies of clones - it's not a very attractive prospect.

Only you can give yourself permission to be show up as yourself. There are innumerable people that will try and manipulate you into conforming and presenting as some watered down version of you. There is zero gratification in trying to be something you are not. If it doesn't align with who you are, then doing it, is going to automatically create inner conflict.

On this matter of "feigning affection" - the other person involved is going to sense that "your heart is not in it." If you think you are sparing their feelings or doing them some sort of favour by not being honest, stop right there! You are doing no such thing!

Someone that consistently puts on airs, is phoney, talks through both sides of their face, cannot be trusted. At the end of the day, someone living this way, will lack the ability to trust themselves.

I can't think of any times when I answered yes, when what I really wanted to say was no;  that I went away, feeling good about it.

This is all part and parcel of what is being said in the adage, "the truth will set you free." It might be uncomfortable at times, to speak the truth - but it is very simple, compared to the energy required to continue to build on a platform of deception.

On this Sir Walter Scott wrote: "Oh what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive." What is actually spared in the telling of a "little white lie." No use trying to rationalize it and wrap it in semantics. It is in fact - A Lie!

You tell me, at what point does your character/self respect, reputation, trustworthiness begin to become eroded, by habitual lying? Perhaps the first line of deception is when I tell myself, "it won't hurt anything this once." And "I won't do it again." It may occur as easier at first, but I believe one is hard pressed to actually claim.. "they got away" with anything.

Inauthenticity and life built on deception, is much like a "house of cards" - it's not going to take very much at all, to bring it all crumbling down.

R. O'Neill (June 23, 2018)

Saturday, 23 June 2018

Don't Miss the Forest for the Trees

The Desiderata goes on to say:

"But let not  this blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals; and everywhere life is full of heroism."

As a refresher, the previous line had been focused on being mindful of all the "trickery" in the world. It is advisable then, to remember that there are those that hold themselves, their work and how they carry themselves in the world, to very high standards. This then suggests that though discernment and due diligence is prudent, one ought not "judge a book by its cover;" or lose faith and become dispirited; there are indeed, those that value integrity.

A couple of recent examples come to mind from my life. I was walking with a gentlemen on the rehab floor I work on the other evening. I don't recall what the conversation had been. I happen to have an affinity for tattoos, (having them on both arms and legs)... he's assessment of that at one point in the conversation was, "look at all those tattoos, you ain't no choir boy."

Now for an instant, I felt the sting of his judgement, but it didn't at all take me from centre. I laughed and replied - "true enough, although, as a matter of fact, I have sung in a few different choirs."

Determined to make his point, he answered, "it still doesn't make you a choir boy." From there we talked about being in choirs; as he had sung in some as well.

My point is, this guy doesn't know me from Adam; yet because of my tattoos, he was quick to pigeon-hole me and my character a certain way. Meanwhile, I'm the guy that's walking his ass, around the rehab floor so he can get stronger.

The other scenario involves a pen I ordered online. I should mention that at times, I get frustrated and a little disheartened, at the junk that is produced and made available through retail sources. It certainly doesn't always ring true that "you get what you pay for." Higher ticket price items don't always have any greater longevity, than the lesser priced items.

Anyway back to this pen. It was made of "bog oak" from Ireland. Both Ireland and oak are personally significant to me. I have a long standing and ever changing relationship with both. So I received the pen. It was a little shorter than I expected but still, I was satisfied with the quality etc. It was when I began to try and find refill cartridges for it, that the frustration set in. Because of it's short stature, standard size refills do not fit. I was in contact with the fellow that was marketing the pen a few different times, trying to determine the cartridge type. I took the pen to local stationary supply stores; nobody carried one that size. He sent me model numbers of what he believed the refill to be, I ordered two different lots of them, from two different online sources. When they arrived they both were too long for this pen.

I wrote back to him again and outlined my experience and expressed my frustration. He apologized and committed to making me a new pen! I had become resigned to this pen being useless once it ran out of ink. I hadn't purchased it with the idea of it becoming redundant. I was pleasantly surprised that this fellow was standing behind his product. He asked me to send the measurements of this pen - I'm guessing, so he can go about creating a replacement, that is long enough to use the standard size refills.

The experience reminded me that there are indeed those that strive for excellence and the value of speaking up and not giving up. It is quite okay to ask for what you want. It doesn't always mean you'll get it, but it doesn't hurt sometimes to "invite" others to embrace the excellence of their potential.

As far as the heroism reference in the last line goes, there are those that are performing heroic acts all day, every day.  My suggestion here is that if one expands their idea of what constitutes "a hero," they will discover they exist right in their midst; in their neighbourhood, at their work place, or classroom on their city streets. Our culture is quick to hoist sports figures and entertainers to the status of heroism; and turns a blind eye, to the myriad of unsung heroes, right under their noses (perhaps even including themselves).

Heroism and virtue are not always found in the most visible and ostentatious of people. Sometimes those quietly going about their day without a want or need to draw attention to themselves, are, moving mountains.

R. O'Neill (June 23, 2018)

Friday, 22 June 2018

Look Before You Leap

The next line of the Desiderata has this to offer:

"Exercise caution in your business affairs; for the world is full of trickery."

From other sources we have: "Caveat Emptor " - Let the buyer beware.

And from the other side of the spectrum, the more cynical and predatorial, "There's a sucker born every minute." - attributed without verification, to P.T. Barnum.

Whether he said it or not, there are most certainly, in the realm of "confidence men" (a practice that is not exclusive to the male gender ... though my guess is this particular gender biased colloquialism, many women wouldn't be eager to change).... but I do digress.. at any rate, there are certainly those operating in the world, that give just cause, to careful discernment and due diligence.

Again from sources unverified - it is suggested that Mohammed said: "Tie up your camel & trust in Allah."

You may be noticing a pattern forming within these various snippets of wisdom... one of personal responsibility.

Wouldn't it be marvellous if you could count on the integrity of all those you entered into business transactions with. However, it's just not possible. The onus is on myself to do some homework. I do have a recent example of exemplary business integrity. Nearly a couple months after purchasing my motorcycle, I had taken it in to have some modifications. When they completed the installations etc. the bike was taken out for a test ride, to be sure everything was okay. It was through this process, they discovered a very small, "slow leak" in my front brake calliper. The front brakes are immensely important!! Maybe I would have noticed it while cleaning the bike, perhaps if it remained small & slow, eventually; I would have noticed a marked decrease in braking power, hard to say at this point.

However the service department manager informed me, this was something that "should have been detected" when they did the pre-purchase inspection and because it was missed (or didn't show at that time) they ordered and installed a brand new calliper at their expense. I was thrilled with both the show of integrity, and to have my brakes restored, to optimal safety standards.

For me I know enough to "exercise caution" but I don't want to go through life full of fear that I'm always about to get "ripped off.." Truly no matter how much due diligence I exercise at some point there is going to need to be some trust. I can't possibly know everything, therefore I must learn to feel into the interaction with others, and determine; whether I believe I can trust their presentation, of what they would have me believe, is expertise.

Some scams are painfully obvious... like the email "inheritance" of some long lost family member living in some remote part of the world. The document is loaded full of spelling and grammatical errors, and all I need do, is provide my bank account info!!

But you hear of new forms of subterfuge fairly frequently and some are very sophisticated. Of course there are those operating legitimate businesses, in various unscrupulous ways. It certainly can "pay" to get at least, a second opinion.

I truly believe the whole matter comes back to the person responsibility piece. Not even so much with regard to the product or service (quality, warranty, consumer reports etc.) The most important aspect to me, is my learning to believe and trust, in my judgement. Integrally important and frankly (in my view) something that is potentially vulnerable. Despite the various "lessons" life has presented me and the forms they lessons have taken; I can't allow them to drag me down. It seems to me many of my "life lessons" have had a monetary component along with them. I have seen some significant sums of money come and go through my hands, on what turned out to be, fairly dodgy products or services. I literally consider this, "tuition" in the afore mentioned school of life.

Even in this, I am willing to give some, the benefit of the doubt. I suppose there are people who truly believe what they are representing; is a bonafide gift to humanity, until maybe they discover, they too have "drank the kool-aid."

Certainly if one is "victimized" in such a transaction - it doesn't serve to further rub salt in the wounds by beating myself up incessantly. If I find myself in repeating cycles of victimization - I might want to take a good, hard, honest look, at my beliefs about myself, in this regard; and consider what I do, to set myself up, or perpetuate this victim standing/consciousness.

So then there is a balance between my personal responsibility, while at the same time recognizing, there are those that are looking to weave their deceptions, beware.  I am responsible (not to blame) for how I walk in the world ... before such an encounter and after.

R. O'Neill (June 22, 2018)

Thursday, 21 June 2018

Be It Ever So Humble

The next line in Desiderata reads:

"Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortune of time."

It continues to be heartening to me, that at the end of the day, the work I currently and have done, much of my working life; is of service to humanity. This despite the fact, that it isn't necessarily my "dream job." Though I continue to extend gestures to the universe with respect to my passion for writing; there is no guarantee, that it will ever support me financially; and therefore, I continue to work in a residential care/rehabilitation facility.

The work itself certainly has its rewards, while at the same time, the politics and workplace dynamics can be exasperating. No question it can also can be physically and emotionally demanding work. Certainly I feel the "writing on the wall," with respect for the need, to consider switching it up.

Still while I am able, it most definitely something to be grateful for. Just yesterday, I was ordering lunch at a Tim Horton's outlet, the young fellow serving me, asked me about my plans for the rest of the day. I told him I was waiting for my motorcycle (in for some warranty work) and then would ride into town and get ready for work. When he asked me what I do, I replied, as noted above. His response was, "you must be a very caring person."

I was momentarily taken a back; touched and then from that not so loving place within, I hear, "not necessarily!" I of course thanked him for his kind reflection. I walked away aware, I do care about people, I want everyone to realize their potentials and to be treated with compassion and respect. It was however, flabbergasting to have someone so opening point that out to me.

The last three evening I was booked to cover these "work-load" short shifts (4hrs.) - meaning I was "extra staffing" above and beyond the normal numbers. My soul task (pun intended) was to go around and encourage those that were assessed as being safe to do so, to get in some "extra" walking. They are not "allowed" to walk on their own (recovering from injury/surgery) - they may not be entirely stable on their feet, so it is a safety precaution, but still, it riles me to consider such a impingement on one's freedom.

Imagine being so immobilized, that you look forward to someone coming to walk with you, for 15-20min. so you can get up from the chair you've been in - all day!!

I walked with one gentleman that is recovering from a stroke. As we were walking he exclaims to me, "I'm one of the lucky ones" (just so we're clear, recall I said he is recovering from a "STROKE"). He goes on to say, "from my time in the general hospital, I'm aware through my experience, of how each and every effort (no matter how small) has contributed to my recovery." "After the stroke I couldn't walk or talk, I'm where I am now, as a direct result of all that previous work and those that, have walked with me."

Again I'm rendered near speechless. What I do, is not glamorous work, not particularly lucrative, doesn't involve an fame or prestige - it is, certainly not without its blessings.

There have been times and places in my life when I believed I served no useful purpose to anyone (let alone myself) - to be of service, I now see, as such a privilege; and a gift whereby, I never seem to feel as though, I'm not getting far more, than I'm offering.

Whatever the work you do - if you're miserable, do consider how you can make the change. In the meantime, chances are you are providing some form of service to someone. And often there's no telling what a difference that is making in their day.

Thank you for being of service.

R. O'Neill (June 21, 2018)

Wednesday, 20 June 2018

Step by Step

The continued journey with Desiderata yields the following line:

"Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans."

Perhaps said another way, learn to enjoy the journey not just the destinations. I don't even know where the inclination to do the opposite came from.  Maybe through school, where "completions" & of course those that met a particular criteria, were the only thing that yielded a reward. Nobody ever suggested to me that I enjoy the process - learn to find satisfaction along the way. The mindset I formed was "I'll be happy when this is over."

As I now consider it, given how much time most anything is a "work in progress" - if I were only happy when it finished, that wouldn't leave much time for being happy.

How often have you been "counselled" regarding a trip your planning, or heard after you returned; "oh you must see such and such," "what you went all the way there and you didn't see ... blah, blah, blah... respectively. As though nothing else existed but these specific places, nothing of beauty along the way, no side roads, hidden coves, enchanted forests..... what a way to live!!

It is my opinion that all "small steps" toward any achievement should be enjoyed..... each combines to yield the "destination.." The accumulative momentum of the small victories (points of interest) will make achieving the destination, that much sweeter.

Certainly enjoy your plans. You've come up with them because they appeal to some part of you. It's very personal and you need no other justification than to honour that in yourself. You may get little or no fanfare from people you speak to regarding your plan. Aside from a known trusted confidant, you might want to consider, not even letting others in on your sacred plan. Chances are many won't have the same enthusiasm for your plan you do - which is fine, they don't need to share your vision. But you don't need anyone raining on your parade either.

Go ahead pull out all the stops, and celebrate yourself.

R.O'Neill (June 20, 2018)

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.