Friday, 30 November 2018

Soul's Emancipation

The nightmare
Was being

A collective
More illusion
Than reality

So then
Where was I?


In a 
Transplanted family
In a land
Transplanted people
For foundation
In the


A teet
Void of 

Numbing survival
The carillon call

Death invited

It's cruelty
Never more
Dancing into proximity
Only to 
Mockingly retreat

The solace
Bone & blood

of association
While still
The matrix
That unites
A clan
A wall

Wisdom & compassion
Of the land
In the turf
The stones

Quivered, quaked
Heaved & convulsed 
The land

Remained stalwart 
And profoundly

I've stepped
One foot
Closer to belonging

The purging
Has never belonged

R. O'Neill (November 30, 2018)

Thursday, 29 November 2018

More or Less; Less is More; Bless this Mess!!

Today's relocation travel, generated for me an awareness; cyclonic in its fury and cavernous in its depth.
What was the catalyst?
Trying to pack my bags!!
I have the same two bags, I came over with. I have purposefully avoided for the most part, the acquisition of more. I was given a hoodie from a local gym, and bought a lightweight poly-fill vest; as I went out, for an open-air bus tour of Belfast, somewhat under-insulated. I even got rid of four of my books that I came with - so I reasoned, there should be more space, not less. I believe the point is if I'm that close to the "margins," I have too much. I knew my trip to be nearly a month long. I didn't know what I'd have for access to laundry services or facilities and I tried to pack for what I thought might be the sort of activities I might engage in. As it turns out, I would just wear a couple variations in rotation, hand washing and rinsing out what had been worn. Consequently I lugging around stuff that is superfluous. I don't fancy I'm on the sort of journey that involves extended periods without showers or changes of clothes, but I can also see, some of my "measures" (that have some distorted aim of providing comfort) end up be excessive.

This goes so far beyond the realm of what I pack for a trip. Though having said that, when I look to the overhead rack on a train and know, there's no way, I'm even going to try and lift this suitcase up there, that might be a clue.

No, this has more to do with another facet, of further realizing and deepening, inner healing and maintaining some form of peace in its place. There is nothing to be gained, by a continued outward orientation. Well except of course, for more stuff than I know what to do with.

I had started to increase my activity levels, and adjust my eating, before I left and was managing to maintain that pretty well while (on the road). I was doing a lot of walking, and accessed local gyms, in the towns I staying at.

The excesses in eating were another way to "fill," & numb out. I have been actively into some personal healing that is painful at times and the accumulation of the backlash from "consumption" is making my life "unmanageable."

I'm doing my best, to be with the feelings as I go. In fact, I'm satisfied with how that is going. It doesn't mean that there isn't the "wreckage of my past," to face. The manifestation of this excess, is waiting in one form, in my apartment; awaiting my return. The more immediate is here, now, along with me.

I won't get rid of the photography equipment I brought along.... I will certainly know for the future, to trim that down, it's a lot of additional weight!! (and I don't work for National Geographic)
I have already taken a bag of clothes (three shirts & a toque - I think, that would be the point, I'm certainly not going to miss them, I already can't remember, what I gave them) to the local thrift store in the town I arrived in..  I had a pocket full of coins - that went to someone collecting for a local food bank.

This periodic compulsive behaviour is completely contrary to what feels aligned to me (though obviously it has been allowed to happen nonetheless). There is the thrill of the hunt and the momentary excitement of something new - none of which is problematic in itself. It's when a long standing binge has been occurring, and I "suddenly" realize - I feel like I'm buried in it.

Ironically the processes I have been undergoing (since around this past February) are intended to bring relief; along the way, they march me through awareness (which can be painful) & old painful feeling that where repressed, which again is painful. I am learning, that below my painful feelings are unmet needs.... some of these behaviours I mention are then, "strategies," to try and meet these needs.

Life is showing me, these particular approaches are not actually working .... And, it's only natural to want to put an end to pain and suffering... but, the way to go about it,  would ideally, be a means that doesn't create, more pain and suffering!!

I feel very "prosperous" when I can take bag fulls of stuff and redirect it. Sometimes I have put it directly into the hands of people who are homeless. I don't mind supporting Thrift stores as well, it's just that for some people, even those reduced prices are not low enough. Conversely, too much stuff actually feels smothering and a little overwhelming.

I have done this dance before... ebb and flow! It is my intention to apply due diligence to my on-going healing. I have just registered for a course that examines "self-sabotage," this then, is perfect timing, to be having this awareness, and to go deeper into the how's and why's of sabotage. I'm not kidding myself, I know another round of "shadow work," will not be, a walk in the park; but there's a saying that points out: "at some point the pain of staying the same - out weighs the pain of growing and healing..." I'd say, for me now, it is just like that, so here I go!!

I am a "recovering addict" the drugs and alcohol phase of my addiction is long over. I would agree with Gabor Mate with respect to a more useful question regarding addiction is: why the pain? versus: why the addiction? Therefore, the more completely I can work, toward resolving the pain (and avoid the creation of more in its place - the more completely "addictive behaviour" will be arrested. That is ample motivation for me... I won't even entertain any dialogue around - "that should be obvious!"

I will approach this with renewed - compassion, understanding and self-love. I am satisfied with attaining further freedom and accept, an incremental transformation.

R. O'Neill (November 29, 2018)

Wednesday, 28 November 2018

Write Where I am.....

It wasn't immediately clear to me what direction my musing might take me today. This is not particularly unusual; though often, I might become aware of some "threads," and then sit down to discover, how they are to weave upon the blank screen/page.

A direction prompt presented itself on this occasion, through the avoidance of that blank page. I had returned to my B & B after dropping my rental car off. I had stayed out of town last night, and the car dealership was on my way back into the city centre. I was given a window in the weather system for a nice 20 odd minute walk afterward, during which it was fairly blustery, but only just a fine mist fell.

After enjoying a delicious breakfast (okay brunch) I sat to consider writing. More truthfully, I was to write, what followed was the form, my avoidance of writing took.

It began with a "quick look on Facebook." This departure came replete with it's own associated rationalization. Surely I will come across some "inspiring" article, that will seed my imagination. While this is not entirely impossible, it is far more likely, I will spin my wheels (yielding nothing resembling my intention to "write.")  I can expend considerable time through this dodge. Occasionally I would weigh in with either a reflection on someone else's post (or comments); other times, I would include something of a reflection, along with my own post. Though either involves "writing," it is not the writing I had intended to do, and was in the midst of avoiding.

As it turns out today, something of a "theme," occurred to me via a facebook post - eventually. More accurately my response to the post, got my attention and became the writing prompt.

It involved a notice from one of the local shops that they had got in, these beautiful leather covered journals (& they were going fast). The weather had taken a decided turn for the worse. Not "catastrophic" by any means, but of the variety I would describe as, if you don't need to go out, then why bother?

It was most interesting to me, to be the "fly on my own wall," and listen to the antics around the "need," to "run out" and get myself a journal!!

I have a journal along with me, (from another Ireland trip) ... with plenty of space remaining. I have journals a plenty, in my flat in Victoria - some have been "christened," others are still untouched. Not to mention, I have a laptop which provides me; with endless "blank pages," as long as it remains functional. I don't even know what the price of these journals are - however, the full blown version of acting out compulsively, has for me, never been modulated by prudent financial management. The point was, not to feel - not how much it would cost!

What would compel me to want to venture out, in dodgy weather, for yet another journal? I recognize that these patterns I'm sharing here, include; that despite a fairly strong case for "not spending the money, the time, the energy; innumerable times, I have done just that! (not just to purchase a journal, that just happens to be one of the shapes and forms "sabotage" takes for me - this time.

What would be more present for me today? What has me engaging strategies of "avoidance," and/or clambering for ways and means, to not feel and express, what is going on for me?

Today, (for this trip) is my last full day in Derry. It also means I'm only three full days away from returning to Canada. I have friends here (that are "the family I can chose,") I love these people. Progress for me is to acknowledge that, rather than avoid allowing myself, to even acknowledge it. I am "less" fearful that allowing love (is a kin to inviting pain) - I am "less" fearful, that I won't see them again. I see myself returning to Ireland... while at the same time, I don't know what "tomorrow" has in store.

I was reared within a framework comprised of "don't feel," "don't speak," "don't trust." Variations would include: "you'll get hurt," "there's not enough," "you can't do it," "be grateful for what you have, what makes you think you deserve anything more?"

Love is said to be infinite. I've struggled at places in time, to conceive it has any substance beyond "Hallmark."

I dance with it all now, allowing it in, expressing it to those that matter to (in different ways, shapes and forms) ... I gather there's a book that describes the "5 forms" love might be expressed... maybe that give some basis to understanding - or at least recognizing, that someone else's different form of expression is no "less love." Just the same, if "infinite" is accurate, then; one is going to be hard pressed to contain it - in a book of "5 forms," or 5, 000, 000.

I endeavour right now to acknowledge both love in my heart, for those I care about & the country of Ireland; and that it hurts, to consider leaving all of it. To be clear, I went through the same thing leaving Victoria (Canada) to come here. I don't even really know how to "open my heart." I just hold an intention of not closing it off ...  each time I feel challenging, feelings from within it. I suppose it good to hold the ideals of love as guideposts, but I can't ignore all the ways I created to "damn the river." Ideally each as it is discovered, will be embraced in love itself. It's an ongoing process for me, given the vehicle through which, I am more consistently allowing to give and receive love - is that which continues to need healing, for that which was previously thought to be "unloveable." (which historically was the justification for withholding/avoiding love.

I see my writing as potentially, a vehicle for, loving authentic self-expression. Of course it could just as readily be, a vehicle of self-deception and repression.

I am not going to go and get "that journal." It doesn't matter how "beautiful" it is, nor if they are a "great deal." This is not an exercise in self-depravation or martyrdom; nor a demonstration of my stellar self-control.

I don't need another journal. But again, the journal is only a representation of a series of patterns, that don't work for me anymore. It would be a quantum leap toward loving myself, to not hurt myself through spending money unnecessarily, and in general; to run interference, with what's going on in my heart. I need to express what's on my heart. I don't " need" to be on facebook or to be running around town, trying to stay one step ahead of my feelings.

Maybe this is a turning point .... I have to acknowledge I'm writing about it - I didn't go and act it out!!

Nothing I have shared here is revolutionary perhaps, in anyone else's life.

My soul's journey is just that, my soul's journey. It is impossible for me to express that of another's and serves no helpful purpose, to make comparisons.

R. O'Neill (November 28, 2018)

Monday, 26 November 2018

Another Point of View

As it does: life pushes, pulls, prods, cajoles, encourages, at times even demands; a change, a reassessment, an expansion, a release, a reinvention, a reconsideration, a transformation.

I returned to Ireland this autumn, in fact I'm still here. Closer now, to the end of this visit, than to its   beginning. Thoroughly fed by the current experience, anticipating all things known, from whence I came - looking forward to another Ireland odyssey, sooner than later.

It was clear when booking my flight for this current trip - "I want to go back because I love being in Ireland." Purpose more explicit than that, wasn't necessarily defined, in no small part, because I don't know what powers within and without me, have in store for my experience.

I loosely had in mind that I would continue what I started with respect to my book (which had launched on Amazon last year while in Ireland).. I went on to having it placed in some local shops as I travelled and doing a couple live events.

Indeed something did transpire with respect to my book. I stopped into a shop in Derry to check in, what is the status of my books placed there? Are you happy to continue to have them (knowing that "space" in a retail shop represents revenue ... I couldn't presume to occupy it indefinitely).

As it turned out the shop owner had revamped the shops, reassessing what was popular and what wasn't to be carried at this time. Books didn't make the cut. I can't fathom it myself, but mine is not the only perspective. So I was to have returned, twelve copies of my book. Honestly I wasn't strongly disappointed, maybe a little. But I truly felt grateful to have been given the opportunity. I was more concerned about, the physical inconvenience of traveling with that many books.

She wrapped them in 3's and gave me a couple stout bags to carry them, that was a blessing right out of the gate. Without this act of kindness, I would have had to carry some loose, try and stuff some in my day pack, all of which would be awkward, and potentially muss the books.

Within a very short period of time, I was able to relocate all twelve copies. I gave one each to the staff at the B & B (for a total of 4). They have been so kind to me each time I have stayed here. (they still joke that I may hold the record for collective duration of stay) - B&B's more commonly being short duration refuge, for those going somewhere else.. I like to fully immerse in a place, so I took up residence..

Another two copies went to a friend ... perhaps to be passed on to family or friends, or a client. The fate of the remaining six copies, I am particularly happy about. One night I woke upright, with the notion that the lot of them; were to go to the support agency in town, I had connected with last year. I had intended to reconnect with them anyway; so, once I determined where & when they met, I just brought the books along. 

The organization is called Me4Mental, it is located in Derry. They now have their own space to work from and meet in. They provide a vast array, of support services to those dealing with mental health issues. I have sat in their support circle three times now, and it is a beautiful experience. I'm not qualified to determine the parameters of "mental wellness/illness" - or at what points, I'm dancing on the line or have stepped across. But I certainly can say, the love and acceptance present in that room is a boost to my spirit, anytime I've been there. 

Not all times "on the road," are comprised of stunning vistas, peak experiences and inspiration (at least that's true for me). Of course those experiences occur, my facebook page is plastered with them. However, the unfamiliarity, the intensity at which one can come face to face with themselves while traveling, can be daunting ... what a blessing, that I was welcomed into this circle of people, with open arms.

They happily put the six copies of my book into their library. It is an absolute privilege and honour for me to consider this outcome!!

Further to the path involving my book; I was introduced to a publisher at a friend's book launch event. I was invited to submit my manuscript for a look see. This marks the first submission of that sort, I have allowed myself. Again, what a blessing to be given the opportunity, to submit.

I was convinced previously, at the time of the book's inception that I wanted "Autonomy," and I still value that, for my life in general. However, ongoing self-exploration, yields that issues from my past, spawned through me - various forms of "control issues." I would need to continue to be very aware, to discern; when I'm legitimately standing in my own power, and when I'm simply not trusting (anything).

Interesting the amount of time I have spent with various groups of people, been engrossed in various written guidance; all proclaiming the need to "let go and let God.." I've neither embodied it full time, nor ignored it all together. I'd be hard-pressed to explain it, let alone "prove" the virtue of it. 

One would need to have some willingness to at least be open to the idea that a "higher power" exists. I'm not sure it matters what you call it. Did this power - declare; my name is: GOD!! - "hey you over there, you spelt my name wrong, - ya it looks like Yahweh... but it's pronounced GOD!!"

At any rate I'd be writing all day and never be able to articulate anything conclusive. So, I side step the existence question and proceed to letting go to, whatever remains. Sounds simple doesn't it? In essence I suppose it actually is. Perhaps there are those that do it all day, every day and would wonder why anyone wouldn't. More likely if they are that thoroughly aligned, there would be no need for concern about who does and who doesn't; they would just trust, that relationship, is being looked after between each and "their maker."

Trust .. that is the "muscle" I'm discovering that became atrophied. From the environment I came from, to not remain "in control" - meant further hurt.  I want to believe in a Divine loving source, I suppose if I did more thoroughly, I would "turn it over," surrender, and Let Go; instantly.

There isn't overwhelming evidence that I "know best," if my life is examined. Of course I haven't in all cases, acted out erroneously either.

I have faced "abandonment/rejection" issues in my life on a number of levels. However, this is my first book. I have heard the reference/metaphor to written works being like, "your baby." I'm realizing that it cannot serve any greater good; if I cannot separate this book (or anything further I write) from myself, my worth, my "success." The book must stand or fall on its own. 

This feels like a cross-road for me. I "know" virtually nothing about publishing/marketing etc. I know there are those that are "butcher, baker, and candle-stick maker" - I have discovered, I just want to write. Does that mean this book or any future book will then, automatically become "published?" No it does not!

The thing is, to be fair, it's possible I have the "raw talent," - but I most likely can't, serve as my own crucible, (to apply the necessary "pressure," refinement, direction etc.) to yield all my potential has to offer. I'm more likely to either sit back self-satisfied; while the best is "left on the table," or drive myself to distraction, through unhelpful perfectionism, that will never submit anything.

The book features a labyrinth journey. My experience continues along labyrinthine paths. The "arrival" at the first completion and self-publishing "goal-line" - doesn't necessarily mean, the journey is complete. I know self-discovery to be an on-going walk - and so it is.

This might well be the first of countless submissions. I have no way of knowing. This book might ultimately go "nowhere.." or perhaps where it has gone, is exactly where it was meant to go. I had to face myself to write the first book. There is no free ride where that is concerned, from one "completion" &  thence forward. To sit before the blank screen is to see reflected, all of me - from there I move the pieces around and see what forms. Love it or hate it.... it's me!! It's not my business how it is interpreted by others. (memo to myself)

One thing is for sure.. there will be nothing gained, without a submission. The peaceful way to make that possible for me is to "Let go of the results.."

R. O'Neill ( November 26, 2018)

Sunday, 25 November 2018

For the Record

There is nothing extraordinary about my "spiritual journey.." I began almost 32 years ago when I came through the doors of Alcoholics Anonymous. That is nothing more than a "time" reference, it in no way has any connotation of "seniority," any benchmark of evolution; I couldn't begin to quantify, to what degree I'm "awake," and where I  methodically continue, hammering the snooze button.

At some point in my early life, I had determined there to be an acute lack of love & further decided I surely must be responsible for this. Wasn't worth it, didn't deserve it, was flawed, broken, defective and deserved to be punished.

On this "foundation" I set out to build a life. Now the fact I'm still sitting here and able to write this account, is strongly indicative that indeed there was "a life" - as lived through, this lone facet of humanity.  Quality of living would be an entirely different conversation.

So my ticket to ride, when I presented at the doors of A.A. (broken, battered, bankrupt .. in every sense of the word) was desperation. Not exactly anything to brag about. The journey within A.A. and subsequent path outside its doors, has been diverse broad, deep & last but by no means least, LONG!! Way longer than I would have ever imagined. Mercifully this is true, as if I had gotten a whiff of the length of time, amount of blood, sweat and tears, that were going to be required (when I first showed up) I would have quickly run out the door I came through.

I have been in the company of many extraordinary people along this journey. This has allowed me an ongoing dance with and experience of, love. Simultaneously, I resented and envied these people, because I couldn't conceive of myself as one among them. (like the old Groucho Marx line: "I couldn't possible respect an organization, that would allow me membership!!"

It continually goes back to, and maybe has always been, about love. In various ways I deny love and acceptance for myself. Those around me are being the best possible version of themselves they know how (maybe seeking love and approval as well) & I reduce the whole matter, to be about my exclusion.

I have a various times (maybe more often than not) tried to present myself as "spiritual guy" extraordinaire, I suspect I have alienated more people than I have helped. Feeling so deeply inadequate, I have overcompensated.... if I'm I really, really, sparkly, holier than thou, devout, pious, connected, light, gifted, conscious - maybe, (but it turns out probably not).... I'll get "more love and approval" from those around me and God/Love.

It's time I showed up..... for real. I am profoundly ordinary. In groups full of talent, I will be the last remembered/first forgotten. Throughout my life, though I have applied myself with some continuity to various things, it's possible I will never present, with "mastery" of anything. I actually don't know if I'm naturally drawn to a wide diversity of paths, fields, disciplines; or the outward presentation of my trauma, sees to it that I cannot "settle" anywhere.

I have no business seeking or allowing residence on any sort of pedestal. Not only would I prefer to avoid inevitably being knocked off (when my humanity presents front and centre)... I will most certainly fall right off the damn thing anyway...

I am committed to the release of any further need to compare myself to anyone else. From "Desiderata" I'm reminded:

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

It has always been far easier for me to consider that greatness exists in others than any exist "less than me."

What people are saying, doing, believing, presenting; is none of my business. I want to fall deeply and passionately in love through the portal of my ordinariness. There is no further point, (not that one existed previously - except maybe to get me here) in trying to be anything I'm not. I'll no longer pretend, to understand what is going on around me, that I "feel" what others are feeling, that I have the inside track on anything or to anywhere. I renounce any "specialness" regarding me whatsoever.

No longer will I pray or meditate in order to weave window dressing. I pray & meditate to attain even a whisper, of assurance ... that a peace exists; beyond a mind, that seeks to keep me in a state of constant terror, insecurity, fear, self-doubt, skepticism etc.

The more I have tried to be "seen" .. the more I have given cause to uphold invisibility.

Allow me to reintroduce myself: My name is Robert John O'Neill & I am really quite ordinary.

I have generated a renewed want, to be comfortable in my own skin and to just know, love is;  and to surrender, any need to stand out in a crowd.

I've seen the top of some mountains... I hope to see a few more. I most certainly don't want to step on anyone, during my climb.

In the writing of this, am I just continue to clamber for attention? Well, by it's very nature, writing must be visible.

The "fifth step" of the 12-step programs is: Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.

While I don't adhere to A.A. as the entirety of my spirituality .. there are elements of it that continue to serve me to this very day.

Regardless of the spirit of these steps during their conception, this one in particular, I don't consider a process of "shaming," self-flagellation, or tearing myself down.

It is a "rigorously honest" assessment of what has been true for me, which is now witnessed in it's recognition and acknowledgment; and further goes on, to outline my intended vision of my personal transformation (through the Grace of God) I don't know what that will go on to look like. I know at depth, what is "Not working." Framed as such, this is an act of self-love. I want to release myself from the suffering created through the unskilled and ungraceful strategies, I have employed while avoiding my own trauma & woundedness.

Have I made any progress in thirty odd years? In fairness, yes I have - I only need see where I came from, to acknowledge that. It doesn't however, mean I can rest on my laurels.

I don't fit. I've never fit. And I'm inching closer to accepting, I'm not suppose to.

I may well never go, where I'm not invited. Despite my boisterous expression at times, I don't wake each morning intent on forcing myself on anyone. Having said this ... I suppose I belong where I give myself the okay ... to be.

To be... or not to be?

 To Thine Own Self Be True....

More relevant to me than ever!!

And for the record, those these references of course come from the works of William Shakespeare ... don't for a moment, believe I'm some sort of literary scholar ...

I first became acquainted with the first quote, from an episode of "Gilligan's Island."

And the second, is quoted in A.A. literature, and is inscribed on some of their "medallions.."

R. O'Neill (November 25, 2018)

Thursday, 22 November 2018

Keep it Simple (except when it is not)

I came down to the dining area for breakfast this morning at the B&B I'm staying at. Both the staff on today remarked on how "early" I was. I wasn't aware I had established a particular pattern. To be fair they both worked here when I was here last year (when my stay at this place, alone  was collectively  maybe 2 or 3 months) maybe more, I was six months in Ireland all together. And I based myself in Derry for long stretches went off, and came back.

By there account this was the "first time" I had ever been first for breakfast. I made light of it (as I do, when I've been unexpectedly "exposed," and proceeded to get my cereal and fruit cup. One of the staff, wishing to confirm the remainder of my breakfast, guessed (what I had a couple days previous, when she had been working). As it happened that wasn't at all what I wanted today.

There is absolutely no "foul" committed here. But the experience got me to thinking, how interesting, that want/need; to categorize/simplify (reduce to the lowest common denominator). Here it was being applied to me by someone else, I absolutely have, can & do the same towards others and of course toward myself (maybe even more vastly than I realize).

This notion that "the known," is far more predictable and therefore "safe," can run deeply through one's life, by which I mean, mine.

I'm know without question through out my writing for example, there would be examples of my thinking I knew something and then presenting it as though it was some unassailable truth for everyone. Further self-exploration reveals to me, that represented my compelling need for "safety" and attempting to present something as impeccable to provide myself some form of stabilizing foundation..

On the one hand, I regret any assault I may have inflicted on other people's belief systems and journey's. Alternatively that was where I was at the time, and couldn't be somewhere I wasn't.

Given there will always be infinitely more I don't know than what I do, that would seem then to invite a greater ease, with "not knowing."

For me, not knowing, had become associated with humiliation and shame. By no means the only factor that contributed to these beliefs about myself.. but anything that triggered these painful feelings became strong motivators to avoid pretty much anything that might pull the trigger.

I was also reared in an environment that was "conditionally loving" at best, so the "unpredictable" nature of it (not knowing when someone would fly into a fit of rage) spawned ways of being that were aimed at "controlling" people and outcomes.

There was also a very regimented approach to life in that home and while some structure and form are useful... I would say, an environment that is too "predictable" and inflexible - fosters a seeking of uniformity in the world, in order to feel safe.

I hope my writing and world view continue to reflect my honest discovery and insights... further to that my intention is to leave others to their own discovery and beliefs. If something I share resonates for you... great. If you patently believe it's misguided that's great too.  I might come to believe that myself eventually. A season for everything (and everyone). I envisioned my healing journey and exploration to be of service to others... that cannot hope to be true if I beat people over the head with what I am learning..

Some will have stepped in the same minefield as I, and others will have avoided it altogether. The underlying fear and shame that comprise my own healing journey have compelled me to speak in terms of knowing how it is for others what need be done about it...

I am being granted, through grace, insight into the human condition (mine)! It is possible there are underlying reoccurring themes that would be true for others, it is up to them however to declare that as true. I "know" nothing.

I've been back in the B & B in Derry for (roughly 3 days) and when I walk into the bathroom, I still reach for the light cord as though it is situated in the same place as where I stayed in Dundalk!! I'm not trying to make a federal case about such an inane occurrence..  It just shows me, how easily I can slip from being present to current "reality" and be grasping for the past (familiar). Relating to myself and others with that same inclination, in effect won't allow my seeing anything else possible, but what I have predetermined.

Again I apologize for what certainly must be seen as a lack of humility on my part.. These realizations must in turn inform how I present, as I seek to lessen my imposing of limitations. I seek those places within myself where "fear" resides - a deepening of that search and discovery holds for me expanded potential freedom. Nobody can provide me with the "safety and assurance" I have been seeking. This is true whether they "agree" with my assessment and equally true and fruitless, is my trying to assert my truth on others, rather than consider theirs (if only to acknowledge that we can both remain with our respective beliefs) and perhaps gain an expanded perspective; rather than succumb to my own perception of being "threatened" and destabilized and an associated need to "defend," myself.

Travel has a way of serving myself.. up to myself. I suppose in no small part, because geographically speaking (culturally, time zones, and most everything) is unfamiliar. Even to rely on "who I am" and what I believe, can still be reflected in a different reality, and therefore, come up for reassessment.

I'm not one that likes to be in a different town every day. For one thing I like to more deeply experience where I find myself (I don't immediately tire of some growing familiarity). There would be I'm sure some influence by those facets of myself I've already mentioned,  so I do look to some sense of familiar to ground me. I don't know, but I suspect this would hold true as part of "how I like to do things." I try to allow for some "spontaneity" - but I won't invite a full on assault of what I experience as "chaos," I just don't think my growth has to always come in such harsh packages. There are times too, when I enjoy to "retreat" into myself and don't want to be "on the go.." This has nothing to do with the people I might have previously spent time with. It is the recognition that.. no matter how much I love these others, I need time, where I don't have to be "on."

I think I'm learning to walk a gentler path, I am realizing newly that fine line that exists between when I'm being "defensive" and in turn becoming "offensive." I'm not talking about massaging my views (hyper-vigilant political correctness) nor care-taking the feelings of others. I'm trying to articulate a further departure to "black & white" thinking ... that for me has nothing to do with being in my heart.

I don't like being "put in a box.." - I need to realize that is likely true for others. I don't "stereotype all day, everyday.. I also don't consider at all times, how much more is going on, than what I currently or maybe ever, will understand.

I know experientially how good it feels to really be heard. I want to provide some version of that for others. Granted "Non-Violent" or "Compassionate" Communication - NVC) is yet another paradigm, but there are elements of it's "formulations" that invite so much more to be conveyed between people. I know the validity of that for myself anyway. It doesn't mean that I'm now going to hoist that platform as the be all to end all. It means that through various paths, and experiences and yes, systematic lenses ... I become aware of more being possible than what I previous believed.

Somewhere between seeking a place of peace for myself through something familiar and knowing I'll never "understand" (it all) and perhaps was never meant to; there exists a way of being that is always new, ever-changing and refreshing and yet is not at all threatening/life-threatening. (I suspect that place exists or is obscured, between my ears).

I defer once again, to an old "Standard..."

God grant me the Serenity
To Accept the things
I cannot change

The Courage
To change the things
I can

The Wisdom to know the difference!!

R. O'Neill (November 22, 2018)

Wednesday, 21 November 2018

Closing the Gap

I sat at the breakfast table this morning, enjoying catching up and joking around, with one of the B&B owners that hadn't been in until today.  There was one other gentlemen at his breakfast.. I noticed he was having a laugh along with us, though not directly participating.

It made me aware that though he sat all of 2-3 metres away... the disconnect can present as a chasm considerably longer and infinitely deeper. I instantly considered how frequently, I sat on the fringes trying to vicariously be "part of" ... not really knowing how to "join," and then being terrified if invited.

As I continue to flush this out, I can and will only speak to the matter, from the perspective of the male experience (this male.. not all males). I suspect there exists similar experience for other men and women as well, however, they can voice that for themselves.

When only the two of us remained in the dining area, he asked where I was from. The divide narrowed and the ice field receives the first blow.

I won't go into many specifics.. though remote, overall I have no idea who reads these blogs; so in an interest to preserve his anonymity, I will not provide potentially, identity revealing, information.

He like myself, was here from elsewhere. Derry is a destination that he and his wife have travelled to in the past as part of their vacations. On this occasion he was travelling alone and had been to the coast, to attend a memorial for his father.

This is now hallowed space...

I did my best to "be the listening.." (there was a radio playing in the background and his was a fairly thick accent) extraneous sensory input .. can be anything from mildly distracting, to overwhelming for me, depending on the intensity.

He indicated that he was heading back to bed soon, as the night before led to him, "getting drunk.."

I empathized with him, his pain - the prospect of sharing such a plate full of grief and whatever other stew of feelings that might be present for him, with a stranger - he is, my brother (in fact he is me!!)

I don't judge the presentation, the coping response or what can be seen as by some as aloofness etc. I have lived it all ... sometimes in some ways, I still do.

As I consider the interaction now ... I sincerely hope that even if all I mustered, was half-baked empathy/compassion/understanding - maybe it's better than stone-cold indifference, or a silence; driven by concern for getting it wrong, or that my awkwardness, might convey a lack of sincerity.

All day every day, I suppose I am deciding who I am. I don't really spend an inordinate amount of time considering "as a man... I will respond this way..." or that response, doesn't at all reflect who I choose to be "as a man.." It's my humanity that is at stake, truly I can't allow myself to be shaped by the endless expectations, definitions and indoctrinations of what it means to "be a man." Just the same, I am alive in the milieu and have been influenced by all of it.

Some days I believe "the world is my oyster.." other times, that I'm about to be swallowed whole. I certainly don't present myself in this "male" configuration, as though it has anything like more than a "fair share" of suffering. I can only really speak experientially from the framework I exist in. The best I can do is to listen deeply to others, with the aim of understanding their experience.

I'm aware of my "white male privilege" ... though it is not comprehensively and abundantly clear, what I'm going to do about this knowing. I'm open to the conversations with men and women as to how to move forward both individually and I believe more importantly, as our collective humanity. It's also not going to be resolved over afternoon coffee and a few biscuits.

I acknowledge that, in my lifetime, in an effort to numb my own pain ... I was deeply desensitized to the pain of others and unconscious of how I contributed, to suffering in the world. I have far more compassion for my pain and that of others now, than I have judgment and condemnation, for how I once lived. I don't "close the door on where I've come from," I won't accept the indictment and scorn of others... I don't define myself by where I came from.

I don't consider myself a "special breed of man," a "light being," (and with all due respect, I can't even conceive the possibility of my being a "star-seed" or the like) - I just aim to be one among many, comfortable in my own skin, no better than, no worse than. That's a full time job for me! I don't know for all men everywhere, how they should show up. I don't know the "answer" to patriarchy nor do I believe that men entirely benefit from it ... or are the only ones upholding it.

I'm responsible for my personal evolution... I don't know how or even if, that impacts the whole of humanity. No matter what I find as helpful in how I show up in the world, there will be millions of men, doing their own thing. I'm not "doing it right & they're doing it wrong.."

I know... how I was living, was killing me. I have sat in enough circles and spaces where a cross-section of men were represented. From our collective sharing, I recognize that there are many common themes in our experiences. Mine is not a unique burden.. no more, than I hold it as such.

If I can be a part, of lessening the suffering of my brothers by listening... I want to do that. It is interesting to me.. that there are so many that would advocate, that humans each, are on their own soul journey and that learning to "tune-in" to their own "inner guidance;" will reveal for them, their unique path. Then some of these same people, suggest - "men have it all wrong & should proceed along the following lines.."

Ask me ... how it is for me! I will do my best to articulate that.

 I know my suffering in silence and many of the characteristics associated with "the man box" - didn't serve me at all. I don't know what's best for another man (or women)... but I certainly will listen, so they might sort it for themselves. A great many ways I have conducted myself during my life time, haven't been specifically attributable to my being "male." It's a piece of the puzzle, but it's not the whole picture. I came from a dysfunctional environment, and I perpetuated that dysfunction, all of which; severely diminished my humanity, and my limited my life experience.

If all you have to offer is that as a man ... I have it all wrong. Or worse yet, masculinity in itself is a pathology, you have significantly imposed your limitations, on any possibility, of who I am.. It also follows (in fact, proceeds) that the same is true, if I do it to myself.

To conclude, I believe it matters less: the pain of my past & the mistakes I've made. Even as I try to show up more authentically currently, there are those interactions that feel satisfying & those that I wish for a "do over."

Who is doing it any better (whether man or women)?

R. O'Neill (November 21, 2018)

Tuesday, 20 November 2018

I Wanna Hold Your Hand

I just arrived back in Derry yesterday. I say back, because I spent a significant portion of a six month stay in Ireland last year, in this very town. The fact that I'm here, and of this particular imagery, are not necessarily the soul-motivation; (pun intended) for the reflections that follow, unless they are. How would I know, what external presentations are brought together in conjunction, with what I have previously considered, to be "my musings," in order to convey a particular mosaic for all to see. Further to this, whom would we cite as the source?

The illustration, I snapped from a picture hanging on the wall in the B&B.  At that moment, if asked, I might have responded, "because I really love that image." I suppose if that were to be mined further, it would reveal some or all of the beautiful associations I have of being in Derry and these images are then, "memory triggers" - linked to those experiences.

While all that might be true, it turns out as the morning unfolds I have other "ideas," percolating and now that picture is to be used along with them. Whose ideas? Not necessarily "mine," though I for one, might benefit directly from them, as I share them.

The sculpture, superimposed here upon the city-scape, as I recall from visiting it previously; represents two sides of a conflict that resulted in vast atrocity and loss of life. The representatives now stand in relative peace, albeit hesitant to extend that remaining distance (seen here to be millimetres ... which might just as readily be seen as kilometres) to truly reunite as one people. From my own life, I have some awareness of the challenges involved in forgiveness, and the healing held within. From this I try and formulate an understanding of the complexity for collectives in search of peace beyond the horrors of violence and mayhem. I acknowledge I take liberties in presuming peace is the desired outcome. I also presume my challenge with forgiveness is not mine alone.

I then depart from the history of the city, and the "intended" expression of the artist, that created the sculpture; though some of those themes may remain.

The remainder of the picture, reveals architectural wonders, from various times in history; some of the infrastructure past and present, within which people, weave their day to day lives. Still for me, the spectre of those hands reaching across a divide, but not clasping, haunts me.  I don't just see that as metaphorically synonymous with Derry; but throughout, human relationship. To account for any inclination to project, I will acknowledge, that at least I hold that to be true of my relationships.

In considering the matters of "Spirituality" and/or human development/evolution I read extensively, try to avail myself to a wide variety of experiences, and write as a source of ongoing inquiry, insight and expression.

There would have been a time, when I thought that these paths, would lead to connection with people of similar appetites and a collective discovery, of a greater peace. What I find instead, although not entirely, is a great deal of divisiveness; and paradigms of varying complexities (many of which I don't believe I have the time or inclination to consider or assimilate) that are used, to uphold this division and to ensure that those two hands may never join.

I consider "discussions" and representations occurring online. First of all, I am reassessing how much any of that, is helpful to me. The original "post" may well contain seeds of hope, inspiration, expansion, information etc. So often the responses, while telling on some levels, if they mark anything to do with evolution - it might be, that it is to be a long drawn out process.

There are those, that present as having spent considerable time; basting in the juices of this path or that philosophy or the other psychological framework. I should acknowledge here, as a relatively uneducated man, I can really only use these terms in a rather superficial way. It's possible I might use them interchangeably where that is not appropriate. I have read from volumes across the spectrum of some of it. There are vast treatise, life works, literary sources, religious texts, that are the common consumption of those that have journeyed  the halls of academia, that I may never pick up.

Still I ask, just as with the architectural wonder, technological advancement, geopolitical theory and application, what is the use of all that "education" - if hands cannot be brought together? (By which I certainly don't mean, a relative fews hands, joined together to  crush another group).

I may be uneducated but, I know the pain of exclusion. It doesn't matter to me, if the group literally closes the door on me, or if I, in a myriad of ways, deny myself that inclusion. It produces the same result, excruciating pain.

I see a clear distinction between those that engage in discussions and further exploration, of a vast array of "disciplines;" as an extension of their passion, and those that hold an interest, in the same subject matter, but use it to uphold the perception of their own superiority, and a weapon against inclusion.

How is it helpful to come upon a discussion of matters so obscure (even though heard occurring in one's mother tongue) that there is left no way, to relate?

I continue (not as a daily consideration) but just the same,  as a facet of my personal peace process, to  include, that at a place in time, where it might have been more "typical," to pursue "higher education" I believed utterly in my lack of potential, and was more focused on self-destruction than anything else. Of course at any time since then, I could still seek entrance to these avenues of education; however; now,  though I believe I could, hold my own in these environments (albeit I might still be adverse to the workload) - I don't feel inspired to go there, unless it was a course here or there, on something of interest.

I don't see that as a choice to remain "ignorant" (but I suppose there might be those that would suggest that's exactly what it is).  I have no axe to grind with "the educated," as I said, I continue to look at anywhere there may exist for me, "envy," insecurity, thoughts of inadequacy - that might be part of me feeling less than and excluded. I don't hold that education invariably leads to arrogance (but it can in some cases). Will those individuals continue to posture themselves that way? How would I know! It is more useful for me to continue to look for arrogance, backed by what I think I know and remove these blocks to my connection.

I see education (regardless of the source) as being used in service; to reach out and give others a hand up.

There are those "fraternities" and groups that feed their adherents with the notion of "specialness." Their affiliation is then used as a cloak; their valued considered to be, what they know, and from where they attained it. Meanwhile they may return home each night, and kick their dog and abuse their spouse.

There are those that have no such education or affiliation, yet they have an innate willingness and inclination; to continually reach out across the divides; even when their hand is renounced as being "uneducated," naive, unsophisticated. Much to my bewilderment, I see time and time again - those that flaunt their education, not satisfied to live at peace in their own world view; but seemingly thriving on a need to diminish, shame and ridicule; those that aren't as educated as them and therefore do not hold the same views. Are they really at peace at all? I don't suppose the need to make others wrong and associated character assassination was part of the curriculum. The source likely preexisted the "education."

How very isolated it must be to build ones own "Ivory tower" and then barricade themselves behind the door.

Given this blog of mine has existed for quite some time now, it might serve me well, to read some of the reflections from a cross-section of it.... Certainly I might be able to gain the benefit of a reflection of the "distance" from where I was, to where I am. But I would almost invariably, be served for my own consumption, a platter of my own arrogance and self-assurance. 

Now I hope I can express from a place that acknowledges my human needs of safety, security, belonging, acceptance, love, to be heard, for respect. But also from the acknowledgment, that at times I fear: failure, success, being alone, intimacy, being unseen, unappreciated, unworthy.

That I can acknowledge all of this is progress for me. In my sometimes unskilled attempts to meet some or negate others of these - I show up as a complete lack of grace.

There have been so many hands, that have reached out to me in my life. To be fair, I have also pulled up my own socks as required, while at other times I sit dissatisfied with the colour of the socks, coveting someone else's socks or lost in the pondering, of the purpose of socks.

It is my intention to use anything in the way of my experience (and associated "wisdom") to help others feel welcome. Ironically for me to welcome others, I must negotiate my own fears of rejection.

I am blessed to have two hands and a relative ambidexterity .... may I continue, to learn how I may best, reach out with either, to join more hands in union.  

R. O'Neill (November 20, 2018)

Monday, 19 November 2018

Call Waiting

How often
Will I be asked
To answer
The call
To open my heart 
To Love

A lasting armistice
Is declared 
And my arsenals

When I can
With open arms
Those embraced
Free to alight 
Upon the next breath

When I can
Forgive mysel
And others 
Until realizing 
Nothing to forgive

When the success
Of others
As satisfying 
As my own

When I’m at 
Knowing I reside
On no “A” list
And an
Unmarked grave
Can still signify
A life

If I have
To ask
I will still
Receive rhe call

R. O’Neill (November 19,  2018)

Friday, 9 November 2018

Have You Got the Time?

As I'm momentarily reminded of time, the clock on the main floor of my "Bed & Breakfast" having just  struck six; this marks now some unbeknownst to me, period of time, that I have been back in Ireland.

I can't even begin to translate the time I was on the west coast of Canada, then a shuttle, to a plane, to another location in Canada; where by the time I walked from the gate I arrived at, to the gate I would once again depart from (it was "time" to depart) - apparently for that window of "time" my "smart" phone made the necessary adjustment - I on the other hand was otherwise occupied. At this point in time... I will release concern for time.

I arrived here sometime yesterday & just kept right on going, despite being a walking embodiment of sleep depravation. Disembarking from the bus in town (Dundalk) was like coming home - I have spent appreciable time here over the last couple years (having made it "home base" for some of my Ireland exploration). It is both familiar and not. The time I have been here, I have mostly inhabited the town centre and enjoyed the localized freedom of being a pedestrian. It wouldn't take me but a turn or two, before I was in unknown territory and for a "time" ...... Lost.

I have had the use of a car at other times - and may rent one at some point on this journey, but right now I can manage without one.

My time here will be part personal ancestral discovery, reconnection and familiarization, part spiritual pilgrimage, writing retreat and for good measure; a side, of focus on person wellness (not that the afore mentioned aren't contributing factors to that as well).

I was given a reprieve for my arrival, by which I mean spared from any November in-climate weather. Today was an entirely different story - as is true of most any "today," you'd care to mention.
First of all, though I went to bed at a reasonably early time (local time 10:30p.m.) I was awake again at 3:00 a.m. - then I counted "4 bells" from the clock down stairs. All this despite intentionally walking what that smart aleck phone of mine; recorded as 15, 569 steps (9.2 km). I reasoned regardless of what time it is, or what my body believes of it - I will be good and tired and sleep. Well smart phones are not as smart as they're made out to be, and despite feeling great to walk after sitting for hours on end on transportation conveyances, my body couldn't have cared less what the clock read, nor that it was pitch black - I was awake.

I was determined to get in sync with the local time rhythms, what was it that was said about "best laid plans.....?

Anyway I stayed in bed, and dozed or something like that...... then the next thing I became aware of was it was 10:30 a.m. (which handedly put me out of the running for the 7:30a.m. - 9:30 a.m. breakfast service window). In hindsight it's possible had I gone and talked to someone, I'm guessing something might have been made possible - but I guess you could say, I'm a living contradiction. Sometimes I'm only to happy to "bend" the rules, other times I just presume ... if breakfast time is over, then "NO BREAKFAST!"

Eventually I walked into town. I was naturally looking for something to eat, and I wanted to get a few provisions for snacking in my room; to offset the expense of eating out all the time, and a few other odds and ends.

Well today it rained - as perhaps not "only as it can, in Ireland" but it was still, a force to be reckoned with! Not to be outdone, the wind, was intent on at least matching the veracity of the precipitation. The result then yields, not just rain "fall," but something a kin to a full frontal assault. It is impressive to see white caps on road side puddles. A day such as this, most certainly puts gear purchased for rain protection, to the test. My assessment is, that there was no penetration of rain to the inner sanctum of the jacket, however if one is inclined to perspire, then you don't actually stay dry inside anyway!

Of course the water repellent qualities of the jacket create a water fall effect, the reservoir being the front of ones pants - to complete the dowsing that the windblown rain hasn't reached, to achieve a uniform dampness.

As for footwear, well the gortex low cut hiking shoe (that has achieved wonders at relieving my plantar fasciitis) held their own for quite sometime. But eventually the premise of being mindful where you step, becomes a bit farcical and then, it's time to unleash the inner child and just tromp right through the middle!

Where some observation did come in useful, was noting that in front of a cross-walk I was intending to utilize, I noticed as I approached, there was a newly formed river running across in front of it.... Now you add to that two or three cars cruising along in succession and they can whip up a tsunami like wave, that rivals the "Pipeline" (north shore Oahu) - if you are standing there waiting to cross - it would be like walking through the car wash (minus the soap and "raindance" spray on wax treatment).

I return back to my room (having successfully acquired all I was looking for) & having a delightful visit with a friend in town that works at one of the shops. I was drenched & happy. Seriously - there are untold numbers of people that could never get here. I have been someone that could never get here. And now I'm here! For the fourth time! I'm not even remotely dissatisfied with the notion of "been there done that" - and the weather is what the weather will be!

I'm warm and dry in my room...
I have the delightful company of C.S. Lewis and is autobiography. (just one book that made the journey with me). When I tire of the works and expressions of others... I will write my own.

Downstairs in the guest sitting room there is a peat fire, which I will take in shortly. I have a tub of protein powder and a new shaker cup (that was given to me) which just at the moment, seems to have been created with the lid welded on.... I'm infinitely closer to a delicious smoothie ... than I was yesterday. The lid will yield - or I'll walk it back to the shop tomorrow - have another chin wag & either trade it; or, my old friend "Murphy," will arrive and either the lid will freely release when I go to demonstrate it's "defectiveness," or the proprietor will relieve me of the cup, and without any pretence of a struggle, will simple remove the lid. And then look at me.... oh you know the look - it penetrates through, to not only where you live, but everyone that ever came before you once walked. It has the power to elicit instantaneous humility. And it can even render someone such as myself that has a love and propensity to babble - in to stunned silence.

In the meantime, I have a bag of apples, some rice cakes and some other "healthy crackers" and a jar of peanut butter.

Now where the hell is that knife?

R. O'Neill (November 09, 2018)