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Seeing a Man as he is

September 7, 2015
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It is said that laughter is the best medicine, but I am not sure. I am finding that laughter without joy is just distraction, a way to wash away the overwhelming emotion that sometimes grips me.

What I am discovering is that joy is what moves mountains for me. The joy of seeing acts of random kindness, where suddenly someone so distraught is saved by another person just caring. Not someone fixing, someone guiding, but the simple act of someone sitting next to another so they don’t feel isolated. It is at these moments that tears stream down my face.

Something happened recently that has stayed with me. I was at my semi-annual visit to my oncologist. My Oncologist specialises in Cancers of the Neck and Head. Cancer in the head region can be one of the most intrusive things to see, and worse yet to live with. With many Cancers we can cover up our scars and disfigurement. But Cancer of the face and head cannot be hidden and tumours protrude forth in vile recognition of illness.
My Oncologists waiting room can be like an elevator, we as patients grab magazines to change our focus, and do dances of distraction to avoid each other’s look. It is awkward but it is also dehumanizing for the recipient and giver of blank stares.

Straight across from me that day was a man with a horrific tumour that grown to cover his left eye and down his cheek, to say it was confronting would underscore my first feeling. I peeked and saw how his wife clung to his arm, I think to show him love he desperately needed and to try and shield her from the fear I am sure she felt in thinking she might lose him.

I quickly shuffled pages in a business magazine and tried to avoid eye contact, but something swept over me, I have no idea what but I looked up and looked directly at him. It didn’t take long to catch his attention. I just smiled and then blurted out “be careful in there, he likes to pretend he is a proctologist. If he sneaks up on your blind side he might be up to something”.

You could hear a pin drop, then as I looked he looked back and his one eye softened and a tear was forming, and he started to smile broadly. We laughed together for a few moments and simply exchanged our personal space. I think other than his wife and medical professionals I may have been the first personal in a while to actually see him as a human not as a disease.

We talked about each others conditions and treatments, politics, sports and whatever, it didn’t matter we just talked. He was first in the Oncologists office and we nodded as he walked in the door. He came out a few minutes later, and he smiled at me, then made a gesture like the doctor had inspected his rear. He smiled, I smiled and for those moments we were just mates.

The most moving part was as he walked out the office, his wife looked back at me and just mouthed “thank you”. I shrugged my shoulders as if to say “Why”?

After my appointment I went to the parking garage and got in my car, and sat there and cried. It swept over me like a tidal wave of emotion – the moment of joy I had exchanged was the single most powerful thing to happen to me in a long time.

But it wasn’t because I was some sort of hero or went beyond my comfort zone, it was because a brave man let me in and let me see his vulnerability, and in that I discovered we laughed at fate together.

I know one truth because of that day it takes bravery to reach out to someone that is hurting. But it takes an enormous amount of courage to let someone in and be open. That day I was blessed by the most courageous man I have met in a long time.

I connected that day, and even though on the drive home I was by myself, I was not alone.

Namaste my friends may you let someone in and give them a great gift

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Finding Me

July 15, 2015
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Tony Robbins has said many times “When you stop growing, you start dying”.

I feel these moments of pending death every day of my life, those moments where I feel failure invading me, where I am ready to give up and hide, where my very existence is threatened by belief in my own inadequacy. I sit and stare at nothing, and nothingness stares back at me.

I have been hopeful all my life that there would be someone or something that could pull me up out of despair, some force or some being that was there to solve the issues which pummel me and leave me weak and shaken.
External hope does not mend internal wounds. I am finding those self-inflicted injuries can only be cured by self-determination that I am empowered to mend myself, that I hold the key to my own heart and that key should not be given away, perhaps shared but never ever surrendered.

As some of you know I have been writing my first book, but for the past several weeks I have been stuck in the proverbial “block” – and yes I have sat still here waiting for answers, waiting for someone to tell me what to do next.

But as I sit here now and simply do the task of bleeding on paper I find feeling again, the tips of my fingers come alive and words flow through me, I feel tears welling up as the fear I have had for days is that I had lost this ability to write, but it was never lost, I just stopped reaching for it.

Ayn Rand once wrote “My happiness is not the means to any end. It is the end. It is its own goal. It is its own purpose.”

When I sit and allow fear to be my only companion, is when I lose sight of my purpose, and my goal.

Today is the start again of my life – and I write and in writing I am alive and growing

Namaste my friends

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I Love You

June 8, 2015

The other day I realized the person I have become is exactly the person I would not have wanted to hang around with before I started my journey. That made me think while the illnesses manifested in my body, the real disease was in my mind that I could not open up to simply being open.

You see before cancer I saw people of faith or growing spirituality as being weak. In that they had to rely on something outside of all they had acquired to define who they were. It took me staring into my own mortality to realize how wrong I was, and as I sat in fear I didn’t crave for the toys I had purchased – but instead craved for love. And at that very moment I knew it was a love that I couldn’t buy but a love that I had to earn.

It was an internal declaration that started me on a path to freedom. But my path bends and turns and offers false roads of easy hope that occasionally I divert on to in search of the magic answers.

I woke up this morning filled with angst – it happened because I took a wrong turn. Instead of being open I had closed off the past few days, falling victim to my own actions. It is an easy road that allows me to stagnate in my own fear. And worse yet I closed off to my real love and found ways to blame the closest person to me for my reaction.

At the very base of my soul the one true thing that does push me forward is love. But as a man of many words I find myself unable to describe what that means exactly, except to say that love makes me cry gently at soft moments of closeness, makes me smile at others explorations and victories, and rejoice in knowing I am not alone.
The person I had made myself a victim too came to me today and apologized when it is I who should have said sorry to her.

Tonight I shall start on the process not of making amends, but of making love. Sorry is a tactic of delay, love is an action of purity.

I close to her with 2 quotes. Jarod Kintz once wrote “The mouth is made for communication, and nothing is more articulate than a Kiss.”

And my favorite is from the Argentinian writer Julio Cortazar.
“Come sleep with me: we won’t make Love, Love will make us.”

Namaste my friends, I hope you find the love you want today too

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I am not Enough

May 26, 2015

I sit today in a state of confound, my mind muddied by my own inadequacy. I want to lash out at others but I see myself as guilty as they are in this game of self-defence of the indefensible.

I think sometimes I have grown, that my empathy alone will speak volumes of my character but then I am confronted by the obvious and I back away like a scared school child when the need for vigorous confrontation is needed.
This self-realization came this weekend when I was about to play golf with 2 people I have never met and someone I know. One of the players an ex-pat Irishman was told by my playing partner, “oh your country really messed things up didn’t they”. His inference was obvious and the debate that followed was pedantic. The subject of course was the bold and courageous vote by Ireland to back and demand that homosexuals be allowed to marry.

So in this potential confrontation on the Golf course some uncomfortable statements were made in the name of good sportsmanship and some bad jokes were exchanged. And I let it happen, I didn’t stand up right there and say – enough is enough – the vast majority of experts in the world recognize homosexuality as not a lifestyle choice. Quite simply it is not a choice it is the sexuality that someone is born with.
Instead I let it slide, and then over the next few hours the topic would resurface and new entrants for the most part would add their opinions in and add some degrading comment.

I could stand comfortable in my own skin if I hadn’t done that, but in the course of that day I also used the words Poofter and Fag to try and defend with humour the vote in Ireland and what the vote should be here in Australia. I made gay people the brunt of jokes and bad humour – I am as guilty as those that would strip rights to people simply because of the choice of their life partners.

I hear the ardent defenders of excluding homosexuals from marriage claiming to defend religious beliefs, but why is it that the people who claim this to me have not attended church in years, commit acts of adultery and break the 10 commandments on a regular basis. And why would anyone support a God or a religion that supplicates discrimination.
What’s worse is the number of people who claim to have “Gay Friends” while denying them basic rights. And I have let that slip for too long, I have let those words get a verbal pass and I have not stood and defended the very basic rights we as humans should have – equality.

I am sad today, not because of those who would deny these rights, but because of myself, I have done little to change that.

During my struggle with cancer two wonderful young men befriended me and showed my compassion that I didn’t deserve. John and Dylan.

Yes they are Gay, but this is not what defines them. Dylan was the nurse on the post operation ward I was at after radical neck surgery for Cancer. He sat with me each night to not just comfort me but also to teach me about self-recovery. John is a friend I met after who is a Naturopath and a healer who helped me search for ways to rebuild my soul and body. Simply put I love them both.

Today I feel guilty because I have not stood up enough – to simply say – enough. I have not lent my voice to the chorus of millions around the world demanding equality. I have not been as good a friend as my friends have been to me.

But it all changes now, and it’s not just with a single piece of law that gives my friends the right to marry. The real beginning is when I say you can’t use bias, bigoted and demeaning words to describe people based on their sexuality. From now I will call you on that, from now it is not a question of political correctness gone too far, it is a case of human rights that has not been defended enough.

I ask you my friends who agree, to follow this. To not just stand and be counted, but stand and be heard too. Changes don’t come with silent protest they only come when we take action ourselves.

Do not be silent when someone demeans and denigrates – make a stand, make a stand for basic human decency.
I today ask you my friends to join me in taking this stand with me – in the words of Margaret Mead “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”

Namaste my friends – I believe we can change the world

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Owning Happiness?

May 16, 2015

Happiness is a cruel mistress, I have held her, made love to her, but she never lets me keep her, or worse yet I have let her go while chasing ghosts. It is the ultimate tease to me. She lays there just out of my reach offering glimpses of what life could be. But like water it runs through my hands, no matter how tightly I grasp my fingers she still slips away.

Now I sit here and I look back at those times I held happiness and with a whim I let it go. I didn’t appreciate the beauty of it or realize how rare it was. I thought there would always be something better, something shinier. I found that all the glitters is not gold, the glitter was simply reflecting something I already had, but I let it go to chase that reflection. Then it was gone.

I am discovering that happiness is not a commodity, not chattel to trade for. There is no commerce in my life that can purchase euphoria. It only arrives when I have opened to it and lay vulnerable with the prospect of simply accepting it.

Some tell me the answer is in owning belief in me, but the only ownership I have ever known is external, cars, homes, things that have clear and evident price tags. The harder I have tried to shape my life and create wealth to receive happiness the further it has moved away.

The further down this path I follow now, the closer I get to understanding that perhaps joy isn’t meant to be held and controlled, it isn’t meant to fill me, but instead pour over me – wash me and allow me to feel new again, even if just for the moment.

Perhaps it isn’t about eternal happiness, perhaps it’s about moments, great moments that create memories. And in my darkest hours I can look inside and look back and sit in those moments and see the joy.

Tonight I shall sit and remember where I have been, many of you will be in my mind. I shall smile.

Namaste my friends

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Here and Now

May 14, 2015

In the last few years I have sat through the paradox of my life, looking behind corners for the hidden meaning. My constant search for what is it all about? What am I all about? What is my mission? What is my purpose? I am overwhelmed myself daily that I am missing a piece of the puzzle that makes enough sense to say I am walking in the right direction, moving towards something. But often I end the day perplexed and empty.

Then suddenly tonight closing off another day, with the same empty feeling I have felt before, when clarity struck me, a moment of internal justice for the pain I have been swimming through. That the meaning, the mission and the plan for my life is “The Here and Now”.

I cannot climb to the top of the mountain to be the ultimate me, if I am not living life right now as that me. It is not the process to be the best I can, it is much simpler and much easier than I imagined. It is “The Declaration” that I am that person now that I crave to become.

Perfection is impossible, yet if I live in integrity right now – then it’s impossible to miss the perfection all around me. Perfection for me cannot be the straight line, the connecting dots or the best laid plans. Perfection is simply the way the day is lived the way the people around me are loved and yes the way I have treated myself at the end of it all.

At the start of my Cancer when I could see my end days, my greatest concern was my legacy and what I would leave behind so that people remembered me for what I did. And while that has been great motivation to change my relationships and my goals it has felt like the impossible dream, always a step or two out of me reach and only obtainable after my final day. Tonight I recognize that this process is setting me up with a constant hunger than cannot be fulfilled. And while that is a great motivator I crave to be satiated, not constantly but at least at times. I have a desire to feel fulfilled while I’m alive, not just fulfilled in what I leave behind.

I have been told gratitude daily is one of the most important ingredients in my life, but I have struggled for that. I could not or would not label simply mercies I have felt as gratitude I tried to put labels on it like epitaphs on a tomb stone. But how can I feel gratitude later, when my hands are cold and my heart has stopped.
Gratitude is meant to felt with a beating a heart, a heart that rages to burst from my chest. Tonight I shall sleep with the new constant companion that I am doing it now, that I am living my legacy and not just setting it up as a movie or a future attraction that I hope others will enjoy.

Tonight, I sleep enjoying it myself.
Namaste my friends

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Crime and Punishment

May 7, 2015

Why is it that a step backwards in my journey feels more like I have toppled off the edge of the mountain right before the summit?

Backward steps in my life rarely are measured movements they are more vicious descents into the cauldron of my ego. There is no good there, no redeeming values, no reason to be there other than the punishment of the feeling it provides when I realize what an ass I have been.

I lashed out in words yesterday at someone because I simply did not agree with them, it was like online road rage. It took hours for me to see beyond my own anger and worse yet see me at that moment.

Happiness and joy are fleeting, I think for me they are hard to hold onto because they are so precious. Yet rage sits with me for eternities and beyond, or at least it feels that way. The only solace in this is I know I have lived in this rage before and it never ends good so I now reflect. I started today by apologizing to the person I attacked, but the reality is I need to say sorry to the person I want to be as well.

I understand clearly the idea that I am my own worst enemy at times. The path I believe to my true happiness will come when I can make myself my own best friend. This is something I struggle with, daily.

Friends I talked to today offered wise words and unconditional love. Even 2 men that I share male insult banter with on a regular basis, used soft words and offered care and guidance. And then my friend Michael Savage shared a story from a friend of his. A man who fell in love with his wife to be after 4 days and married her on the spot, 17 years later they have 4 children and are very happy. The key as Michael found out he LOVED HIMSELF 100%. And he met a woman with amazing energy who loved herself 100%. So these 2 people loved themselves and had no need to fill up with others. So they brought 100% of themselves to each other and their family and community. Together they gave to each other instead of filling up with each other and that is why it works. Maybe when I get to giving myself unconditional love and can fill up on my own love then I will have no need for anger and reprisal.

As I sit here today, maybe the key right now is not to be looking up at the summit and wishing I was there or looking down and worrying what will happen when I fall.

Today I am just going to sit, right where I am and try and enjoy the view.

Namaste my friends

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Scars and All

May 1, 2015

I had thought my journey was a quest to find ultimate peace and tranquillity – it was a search for something elusive that I have been convinced would cleanse me, as if I had been dipped into holy water and brought out a refreshed human with no scars.

Recently I have had healers come to me after reading my posts saying they see evil spirits residing inside me, believing I have been cursed, believing they could cure me. Others have reached out with hopes I can be healed by following another way. And I have chased these things too, hoping, praying, broken down lonely at night sobbing uncontrollably filled with desire that something, perhaps a hand of divine presence would raise me up and save me.
But I have found that this so called curse is in fact a blessing. Prior to this path, my awakening, I found ways to medicate my way through life, the drugs changed, opiates to cannabis, sex to seclusion, fame to ignorance any distraction from what was real. But nothing masked it. Nothing could.

Sobriety of my soul is not from the exclusion of drugs, but from the opening of my heart and eyes. Yes I feel the demons, I see the evil in my past and yes I live with the beast that still resides in me. But it is only in that pain that I can see the good and feel the divine that is in me and I believe in all of us. I do not want nor do I crave tranquility, if I had it I would miss that glorious ride which brings me to the deepest of tears as I witness horrendous suffering in others and I have tears when I see the greatest of gifts that humankind shares, acceptance, care and love, unconditional on all accounts.

Why would I want to walk by this and not feel it, be overwhelmed by it.

I was born to consume this life I have, I was created to find meaning, not simply be satisfied with purpose.
I know there are many who cannot and do not read what I write because I explore the dark of my being. But this is not some sort of manifesto to say they are wrong and I am right, all I know is I have a specific path that cries out for me to yes, cry out.

Exhilaration comes on two sides of the mountain for me, up and down. Life cannot be peace, life for me I have discovered is only full when I am full of emotion.

For those that have shared that I am not alone on this journey, that you too share these demons, I thank you for your honesty and I bless you for walking with me through the mine field of my life. I can tell you that it’s so tough some days I want to quit, but on those other days when clarity has a mission the joy is pure nirvana, it let’s see me see across oceans. And it is in the moments that it’s all worthwhile, it is in these moments that I know there is something so much bigger to find.

Namaste my friends

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Justice?

April 29, 2015

I sit here broken spirit and shattered belief. My heart is sad and my eyes are heavy with tears. Early this morning two men I knew well died – I had never met them, never sat and talked, never exchanged a word, but I followed them. I lived with their hopes, I rejoiced in how they had reclaimed their lives and made a difference, and I smiled at their victories.

But in the politics of hate and anger they were just numbers in a game.

My Australian friends probably already know who I am speaking about – but for those of you in other countries, the 2 men lost are Australians Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran. 10 years ago as young men they made a bad decision. The decided in the lure for easy money they would try to take drugs from Indonesia to Australia, it was a game they lost and the penalty was a firing squad on an island in Indonesia.

I am not here to start a debate on the death penalty I am just here to say how sad this is. In the 10 years they spent in jail to wait for their final curtain they had turned their lives around. Behind bars they had set up drug rehabilitation for other prisoners, one became a pastor, the other an acclaimed painter. They counselled and cared for others while all around them was despair. I read today that as Andrew was tied to the post he would be shot at, he sang Amazing Grace to try and bring some peace to the other 7 men who were shot beside him early this morning in the name of justice.

If only this was an isolated case, but right now 140 countries around our globe have a death penalty. Thousands are put to death each year. I wonder today how many of these people have become someone of substance behind bars, or worse how many may be innocent. I wonder why I live in a world where revenge is the driving force of justice.
Even today there is talk of acts of revenge against Indonesia for doing this, again justice is being defined by pay back.

I don’t know what Andrew or Myuran would think about this, I want to hope they would want us all to forgive Indonesia, forgive those who say they should have been executed, but most of all I believe they would want us to think of those who have made a mistake, and finds ways in our hearts for humane justice, and find a way to forgive.

Namaste my friends, listen to this video and think of Andrew and Myuran

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Lion or Lamb

April 21, 2015

In this the year of my journey I have followed many paths, seeking advice, guidance and discovery. It has been like running up and down mountains – the pain in going up is magnified as all I can do to muster the energy and will to keep going forward is stare down and watch my feet make one step after another, the closer I get to the summit the less painful it becomes.

The trip down starts with my ability to look all around and enjoy the view of my growth, but as I get closer to the bottom I gaze downwards at my legs wondering how do I halt my descent, I become filled with terror that perhaps if I reach the bottom I won’t be able to climb back out again. It has been a mirror of my life.
I am discovering in that reflection that the downward spiral always starts when I am in conflict, and it is conflict I create.

Two weeks ago a dear friend called me and told me of his trip to India where he underwent transformational change that has enriched his life. At first I revelled in it with him, enjoying new insights and knowledge that he had, but the joy mixed with my jealousy that he was making spiritual steps forward that I yet had not taken. There was a time when he looked to me for guidance and here I was looking to him. Yes the student became the teacher – and teacher felt threatened.

If nothing else I have discovered that the basis for the majority of my inner turmoil and conflict comes from jealousy, in that jealousy I become judgemental and find ways to belittle people in my own mind and worse yet I share the judgements with those I know . This vicious circle then eventually turns my focus at myself and with that judgement becomes harsh and unrelenting. I can walk away from others and their opinions, I cannot walk away from my own.

Today I have started the journey of examining my core values, I am again back at the drafting table looking for ways to become the man I want to be. I am trying to find a way for the most powerful elements of me to work with the softest parts of my soul and in that find truth that is based on love and empathy, not on envy and pride.

Namaste my friends