Friday, 2 April 2021
Tuesday, 30 March 2021
Tuesday, 23 March 2021
Thursday, 25 February 2021
"Come on let's go out and play before it get's too dark!" - Rob O'Neill (8yrs old)
What is this then? Simple, I source my quotations - when & where, I choose to utilize them. This suggestion elicited from my eight year old self, is a profound as it is, "simplistic." And despite what, as I sit here to write, is somewhat of a squall brewing outside; there will be adequate time, to "feel the wind in my hair," or the equivalent thereof, given I have no hair; after I finish writing.
I have added to my Artist's Way suggested activity (which on top of the regular requirement, of "morning pages" and a weekly "Artist's date" - was to be a week of "Reading Deprivation..") I'm now 5 days into that and had my sights set on breaking that fast, with transitioning into a juice fast. Circumstances have shifted and changed, which have resulted in my deciding to commence the juice fast today. So clearly the two activities are now to overlap. The reading "break," is due to lift, come Saturday; the envisioned juice cleanse/fast to run perhaps 3-4 days (I have gone longer in the past). This one, being not "planned to the nth degree," I believe, I will not be particularly rigid with, regarding duration. It could even possible extend, beyond the afore mentioned time span. I'll see how it goes and how I feel along the way.
How it going right at the minute? Well, it's just before three in the afternoon I've had three of the six bottles of juice I have available for today. Seems to me, that holds me in good stead. I do feel hungry - but I also know from past fasting, the actual physical hunger, seemed to peak after a while, and though it never went away entirely, it also never got worse. (of course this was on those occasions, when I fasted for six days) I have no idea, experience or current idea, to undertake anything longer than that.
I imagine the "cleansing" function is underway ... as journeying to the loo, would be more frequent than normal rhythms.
I've been off caffeine again for quite some time, also dairy, I eat almost entirely vegetarian (still eat eggs & the occasional piece of salmon)... The current nutritional status, has been arrived at through all kinds of trial and error... Not really part of any "spiritual" paradigm, as much; as it's for me, about, achieving and maintain a health weight, energy and vitality levels that support my envisioned activity level, digestion bliss and just generally feeling good in my body. Having compiled that list, I suppose it can be said and seen, that there is an element of spirituality at play - but it's being constituted from the "inside out." (which would be how some define "spiritual" I gather). I'm not trying to live up to the dictates, dogma, moral standards of anyone else - I'm just trying to arrive at what is optimal for me. Being overly concerned with what others eat or drink, just muddies the water and is not my business.
I understand an occasional juice cleanse/fast to be beneficial on many levels for one's being. I'm therefore offering myself that gift. I haven't done a ton of research, I won't being undertaking reams of before and or after analysis. Just going to get it done and see what I learn along the way. If it happens to be adequate to "detoxify," or lessen any inflammation going on in my body - great! I'm sure it will have me become more conscious, about my eating habits, and I would like to carry some revisions forward - post fast.
It's interesting to note, each time I get up from my writing for a "personal break," it runs through my mind - "I could use something to eat...." then I remember, "oh ya, not today O'Neill - it's cook's day off!! When one doesn't grab for a book and or something to eat while reading the book (and by "one," I mean me) suddenly I'm in a different relationship with myself. As it happens, I'm not doing much in the realm of the "Old nine to five" these days; so, in coupling some of these various avenues of introspection, and self examination, along with more than the average amount of "free time," there's precious little room in which to hide. Therein lies, where this can become interesting and revealing as well as, bring about the catalyst for change; albeit - it's not necessarily, "a walk in the park.." - even if you might be, actually walking in the park!
The opening "quote" was derived from another Artist Way Course suggestion: that one write some about their eight year old self, and then have the eight year old, write to your current self, with the invitation to hear, what you would tell yourself.
I wrote "to myself" with my "non-dominant" hand (which to me is just my other hand) I am ambidextrous to a degree; the left hand, which I chose, when it was suggested, I "had to" pick a hand, is the more fluent of the two, because I've habituated using it... But, the right hand can write fairly legibly, and I believe will become equally as effective, with continued practice. Why bother? Well partly because I believe, if I can, why wouldn't I? I'm also curious what effect that might have, encouraging the more consistently and collaboratively use of both hemispheres of my brain .. again, why not? And for the sheer novelty and fun of it!
Enter my eight year old self.... it probably would have been somewhere, in that age range, when we were first learning to print and then write, that someone decided I needed to be "something-handed.." it sure wasn't my idea!! Chalk it up to the "penguins" - speaking of chalk, they only wanted ya, writing with one hand with that too! The "training" was "persuasive" and I ultimately "chose" a side (but at what cost?) eight year old Robbie is saying about now... fuck 'em, let's write with both hands!!
"Let's go out and play!!"
What value does this have? Well as far as I'm concerned it is of far greater value, than obsessing and stressing over "Covid!" No wonder my "inner child" is reminding me about "playing" and the "threat" of darkness.. I'm of a mind, that I'm going to spend the rest of my life, fostering the further development of my creative faculties - whether I live another thirty minutes, or another thirty years. I have empathy and respect for people's fears and any losses they have incurred. This whole thing, that which is real and otherwise, has cost a great many, a great deal ... and it still is! Nobody is going to tell me, that I have to dwell on it for the rest of my days. I believe life is constantly unfolding, with endless creativity and the invitation I'm hearing; is to meet that ever changing creative reality, with all the creativity and imagination I can muster.
I am not going to live in the dark of the dooms-day machine, churning out its daily lamentations. I actually believe the world and everyone in it needs to get out and play. Forget all this terminal seriousness!! I have no "stats," but I bet suffering is a trillion kazillion dollar industry. Let's get serious about playing! Not take it seriously (i.e. "win at all costs," never say die" etc.) but give serious consideration and commitment to having fun!
"When?" - "not now you've got to do your homework" "When?" not now, you have to practice for your music lesson..." "When?" Not now, you have to graduate with the correct GPA to get into a good university!!" "When?" Not now, there's your whole career path unfolding ahead of you now... you have debts to pay, a mortgage, family.....) "When?" Not now, you have to earn enough and invest it correctly so that you can have enough to retire on!!" "When?" Not now, you got kids to put through college and aging parents" "When?" Not now, your magic retirement numbers are just near your reach... stay the course! "When?" Not now, you pushed a little too hard - you're going to require some hospitalization to stabilize your health.... "When?" Not now, you're dead!
While it might be true that it is "always darkest before the dawn.." I believe it is vitally important to determine who is calling the darkness and how and when you define it dawn!
R. O'Neill (February 25, 2021)
Monday, 22 February 2021
In what might be considered a prime example, of the "chicken or the egg" analogy, through the vehicle of the written word via my blog; I intend to wax upon the latest progression, within a somewhat self-directed "course" - written by Julia Cameron: "The Artist's Way" which is described as a - "A Course in Discovering and Recovering Your Creative Self"- "A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity."
I began about six weeks ago just following the "morning pages" and "artist dates" guidelines (I had some familiarity with those aspects, from another time when I took a run at the course) at that time stalled in the process; and never did commence, with the various other suggested activities, laid out for each week of the course. This time round, I am following much closer to the recommendations (with the exception that, completing the week's activities, has on occasion, over lapped into the next week - I believe this to be an acceptable compromise, as I am in fact, completing the work).
I had been given a package set of the course - which I held on to. Within the set, was a copy of the book and an accompanying journal.. I am reusing the journal, despite having filled some of the pages, with the previous attempt at the course. Because the chapter references within the journal, correspond with each section of the book - I was physically further along in the journal, (meaning readings, quotes etc. where for the week's activities, that I had yet to arrive at). Due to this, I had become aware, that in "Week Four" one of the "Activities" was entitled "Reading Deprivation." At the time I didn't give it much credence, though I have to admit, my blood momentarily ran cold. Apparently, I was effectively able to blot it from my mind, until this past week-end, when I was completing the previous weeks activities, and pre-reading the chapter for the up-coming week, - which as you might guess is in deed (cue the cellos) "Week Four.."
The first thing I noticed, was a sense of a very strong aversion, to this notion! (AKA Resistance) I read her description of the rationale behind the suggested strategy; I further read with some interest her accounts of all the flack she received over the years, teaching the course through in person workshops - when the participants reached this stage of the course. Then I began to have my own "reactions." I don't know her, haven't met her, good chance I never will, and I took an instantaneous disliking to her at this point!!
As it turns out, this work is running parallel with self-exploration work I'm doing through other avenues - one self-directed and lay-person supported, another through professional consultation. In perfect synchronistic fashion - "all paths lead to Rome" (Rome being the thriving kingdom of "O'Neill).. I received a thematic word, from a friend, at the onset of the New Year - the word being "Synthesis.." - this course of action I'm under-going, though perhaps appearing like, a disparate mosaic of unrelated pursuits, may very will be, the necessary catalyst! (for me - what would I know about what anyone else needs?)
I'm no stranger to self-exploration, healing/recovery focused work - much of which has come dressed in various "spiritual garments." Having said that, it is fascinating to discovery (when it doesn't present like something a kin to a complete nervous "breakdown") that though I am mining the "same guy," there is so much more to be found! My experience is that "Spirituality" has so many faces and some of the most (for me) most powerful transformational/healing opportunities, presented in a rather surprising way. I believe in fact they were so effective in my case - because I didn't see them coming. They came dressed up in something of this current course - like something I had anticipated would be "light" and care-free (which to be sure it does have elements of play and jump-starting the imagination etc.) but had I been pre-aware I was going to encounter - what I am now in the midst of, I would have donated the books to the Thrift store. So this is how God works in my life, rather Ninja-like!
I initially found comfort in the author's reference to this being, in no small way a spiritual pursuit - but I see now, that had to do; with the notion, that I thought I had some familiarity going, like Linus and his blanket for "comfort." Now stripped of that misconception, if I have anything of use, that I have picked up on my path previous to now, is a genuine want; to foster a loving atmosphere, within my self, for me to live in. So I am encountering no shortage of uncomfortable self-confrontation - but I am inspired by the prospect of a "Synthesis" of my entire life's journey, and lovingly seek the truth of my being - beyond the pale, of my defences, wounds, mistaken beliefs and un-loving thoughts and behaviours.
I was genuinely terrified to consider going a week, without reading. Keep in mind, over a period of dozens of years, I have been whittling away the external compulsion/addiction (generated by an inner environment of self-contempt, shame, un-addressed childhood trauma).... so for all intents and purposes I have been of late, walking through the world; on "Bambi-like legs," stripped naked of my go-to strategies; discovering/recovering myself, while considering what the rest of my life, is going to be about (all within the continuing unfolding drama of the "Pandemic," and it's impacts outside of, and within myself - which I see as neither entirely a curse, nor a blessing, it is giving me the time and space to be "cast adrift..." As if the events themselves (- being billed as: "The New Normal..." - which I renounce and will continue to do so, until the day I die - there is nothing "Normal" about any of this - I don't care how relentlessly the media churns out it's narrative... but I do digress)... aren't de-stabilizing enough by themselves; I call in this lot; or maybe the time has arrived in my life, to go through exactly this - when the dust settles, the real Robert J. O'Neill will be asked to stand. The rest is just the backdrop of the stage, the journey is taking place upon.
What the hell was I going to do without reading? Here's the deal, if books were bottles of alcohol, I live in a tavern or brewery. I have bookshelves loaded with books. I often have to clear the seat, on the love seat beside where I sit (of books) for anyone else to be able to sit down. There are stacks of books randomly through out my apartment... Books beside my bed.... books in my bathroom, books in the door of my car.. If I'm out for the day - there are often pounds, of books in my daypack..
There are books of books - i.e. the bible ... there is a book categorized by themes from within the bible and corresponding scriptures. Addiction, trauma, communication, books about Islam... there are poets, and sages - there are prayers and ecstatic streams of conscience, books about ADD, books for ACA, books about buddhist thought. Books written by former addicts on buddhist thought... books comparing buddhist thought for recovering from addiction, versus a path derived from Christian tenets.. books about men's work ... "Who wrote the book of Love?" a quick glance across the room at merely two book shelves, reveals a minimum of four different titles, that contain the word Love - so the answer is, many people have written not the, but a book, about love.. There's the "Course in Miracles" - there's interpretations of the Course in Miracles.. There's books about writing books, there's books written: about using writing to discovery, unleash, transform, heal, transcend. I have spent time with many of these books.... there have also been innumerable books, that have come and gone, that never got read, or at least not in their entirety. There are books that are in the current collection - I've never opened, other than to read a few passages of while at the bookstore, the neighbourhood free book box, the used bookstore, the thrift shop, Amazon...
Books have fed me, nourished me, inspired me, challenged me; open my mind to vistas I once dared not even consider - other times, they have offered me a place to hide, they have been the subject of quests and time spent, under the self-deceptive guise, of moving about, purposefully in the world... They have been "another fix -" and symptomatic of someone, that could not see beyond the idea, that he was deeply flawed and broken - so profoundly smashed and defective, that surely the answer lies in - this book, No? Hmm... maybe this one!! - that gave me a clue... I'll follow that thread, but no - still not okay.... fuck!! How about this book then... listen to that author "tell it like it is..." - not only in this book, but dozens of others - so much fame, so much fortune - must be what I need .... At times I have created financial hardship - trying to read, about how it is I'm going to get fixed, get it done and then get rich!! (yes I see the flawed - premise ..... now!)
All this without even yet mentioning .... the blackhole of the internet, "social-media" - online courses etc.
I haven't felt this kind of fear for over thirty years (since when I was considering life without drugs and booze or what began, Thank God! an ongoing sobriety)... Still come this current challenge and I discover, there are more dragons to slay, or perhaps just to befriend, and learn to cohabitate with. I don't cotton to this notion, that dragons represent the need to "slay" something (or somebody) - though God knows some of my inner world, has been shaped into an arsenal, of carefully crafted weapons - and my window on the world often then aptly described by the adage: "to a hammer everything looks like a nail..." to one stock-piling weapons of mass-psychological destruction (living life through the spectres of the ongoing need to defend) many a benign comment; or witnessed furrowed brow, is seen as a "declaration of war." How can "Peace, be given a Chance" with all that hostility kept on simmer - just waiting for provocation (real and as often or more, imagined) to declare it - "Game on..." - Fuck, enough already, it's exhausting!!
I don't know where this is going? I don't care much for the fact - I don't know where it's going - but for now I'm willing to be okay with not knowing. (That in itself - makes my skin crawl!! So much at stake when one "doesn't know" - EXCEPT WHEN THERE ISN'T - day in day out, lots of people don't know lots of things and fuck all, happens to them; one way or another they were alright. Who knew... not me - I thought I had to know... to not know is to be unprepared - vulnerable - without fortification - taken by surprise to be ultimately crucified .... I could build a castle out of books and a lifetime of reading has both opened me great insight and, provided a decent vocabulary with which to tear someone to ribbons. Talk about misuse of God given gifts... Hmm, I suppose I just did!!
I'm only just now into "Day 2!" I'm aware, as I move through my day, that my unregulated eyes go about searching for "something to read.." ANYTHING! Maybe it's a bit like beginning meditation and being instructed to "quiet your thoughts," or let them go; and then seemingly, through increased awareness - it appears, as though ones thoughts, have exponentially multiplied, rather than just realizing - that mind, just churns 'em out, non-stop!!
My feelings at present, are "right here," (maybe where they're actually supposed to be) twice today in succession - I was moved to tears; first by my own recognition of my appreciation, for help and support I had received and expressing that; and then telling the same person, I would miss them as we were parting ways.. It occurs to me telling that I account for numbers of quantifiable human feeling and interaction like they are the "exception" rather than a natural way of being) - I feel sadness that so much of my life has been so; though also what an amazing gift to come to know something else... maybe it's like someone that had been previously blind having their sight restored ... I don't know - just imagining - it's a significant shift I can vouch for that!
I'm still not crazy about the term - Reading "Deprivation" - but it's possible, I've assigned it a negative spin and maybe it literally means "without reading" - not, that it implies, this is intended as a form of "Punishment."Again that might be a further delineation of my bias. I guess I'll look it up, after I stayed the course, for now I'll give myself the best I can, possible opportunity, to not go inserting the "thin edge of the wedge" - to consult the dictionary - the next thing you know ... I'll have been reading the damn thing for hours on end!!
I have utilized some of the time created during this "fast" so far - to write one poem, this present blog post, drew a picture - repaired some woollen gloves of mine, found a meaningful wall hanging for my room - free! So it might just be, that the course is beginning to have the stated intended affect....
Trust me, I'm not coming out to now, to "vilify" books... it's entirely possible I may write some more myself.. I definitely haven't the intention, to let my first creation, die on the vine.
There's an enormous "re-org" under-way - it's possible this reaches far beyond, my personal escapades (or at least that's what I was once "reading...") I don't think, there is anything wrong with listening/reading the perspective/experiences of others.. I can say that for me, it becomes problematic, when it becomes so dominant to do so, that ones own voice, is long lost and estranged - and in order to be held in useful proportions - using anything, as an ongoing distraction or means of disassociation, is a slippery slope indeed.
So for now I will continue to ply the waters of "I don't know," - I seek to foster compassion and understanding, for what I didn't know; and I am becoming willing, to accept there exists, infinite volumes of that: which I don't know, I don't know.
R. O'Neill (February 22, 2021)
Sunday, 21 February 2021
Recall or name
Of grief's Out-pouring
Was it then
The Dark Night
Which to issue
And without reservation
Into the ashes?
With the last
R. O'Neill (February 21, 2021)