Trying to let go.

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“I don’t suppose you have to believe in ghosts to know that we are all haunted, all of us, by things we can see and feel and guess at, and many more things that we can’t.”
― Beth Gutcheon, More Than You Know

It’s three in the morning and I’m restless, my mind going over the previous days blog. It’s done and published, I tell myself, don’t keep tormenting yourself, let it go and move on.  I turn and lay on my back, in the corpse position, willing my mind to relax. I try to project my mind outside of my body, to observe myself laying in bed. I’m a big believer in the conscious mind being separate from the body and on occasion I’ve had fleeting images of my consciousness speeding through the universe. I slow my breathing, concentrate on my breath and try to capture an image of my body. I’m not sure how long I was in this entranced state but I was suddenly aware that I was outside of myself. My conscious mind was hovering about two feet atop my body, outside of space and time. I viewed my corporal form laying there, arms folded on chest, breathing slowly and deeply. It was a fascinating experience, and I tried to become aware of existence outside of my body, but my soul seemed to be attached to the confines of my body, not wanting to leave. After an indeterminate time I thought, well that was different, and decided it was time to re-enter my body.

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“I do not fear death. I had been dead for billions and billions of years before I was born, and had not suffered the slightest inconvenience from it.”
― Mark Twain

Try as I might I could not will myself back into my body. I felt like an observer, like a botanist studying an insect, strangely curious about this new discovery.

I saw my wife awake and leave the bedroom.

I saw my wife return and give my shoulder a shake.

I saw ambulance men putting me on a stretcher.

I saw myself laying in a hospital bed.

I heard the doctor say, ” There’s nothing physically wrong, he seems to be in a catatonic state, he may or may not awake”

I heard my wife say ” He believes in a natural death. He made me promise that he wouldn’t be hooked to life support to prolong his life”.

I heard the doctor say ” we can feed him intravenously, and take care of toilet issues, and the rest is up to him”

I heard my wife say ” doctor it’s been four years and he’s still in a coma, I think it’s time to let go”.

I witnessed my embalming.

I witnessed myself being placed in the coffin.

I witnessed the kissing of my lifeless form.

I witnessed my coffin being lowered into the earth.

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“For the first forty days a child
is given dreams of previous lives. Journeys, winding paths,
a hundred small lessons
and then the past is erased.”
― Michael Ondaatje, Handwriting

I stared at the body before me, buried six feet under the ground. Just a shell remained.  No life. No soul……. and yet I could not let go. My body started to decay before my eyes until only the bones remained. I felt a stirring, a restless pull. Time to leave, time to move on. I reluctantly let go of my attachment to my body and became aware. I was encompassed by light. I looked and observed a round,pulsating energy mass and knew that I was viewing the universe, of all that had been, and will be. My soul existed outside of space and time and so I was aware of all time from beginning to end.

I was then aware of another pull on my soul. The universe was attracting me like a giant magnet pulling me into its embrace. I rushed by colliding stars and whirling galaxies. I felt myself in the grip of a tornado like current carrying me violently forward……and then there was calm. I was happy, I was content. My soul echoed to the beat of a steady ba-bum, ba-bum, ba-bum. After a while I was again violently pushed forward down a dark tunnel, struggling to reach the light at the end. I finally emerged into the light, exhausted, and felt a hand hitting my back. I gave a wailing cry.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

……. and the award goes to…..

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“If your dream is all about winning an ‪#oscar‬, a ‪‎grammy‬, an ‪#emmy‬, or another award, give up and quit now!
Why dream for accolades, awards, recognition or celebrity status?
Dream to learn, achieve, grow, sustain and succeed.
You will be a happier person in life over trying to define your success or your dream by what others think of you.”
― Loren Weisman

Crushedcaramel  mentioned me on her site as one of eleven bloggers she has nominated for the Sunshine Blogger Award. Having a curious nature, I typed the name of this award into the search engine, and the only results that came up were the sites of other bloggers that had been nominated. There was no origin story or actual winners of this award, although there were some variations on the number of bloggers to be nominated. So I will assume that it was originated by a creative blogger (or WordPress) as a means of bloggers getting to know each other. Which is a good thing.

Perhaps it’s my conservative nature but I see a nomination process that is not targeted towards an actual winner as a phantom process.

I feel like a ghost, where my spirit is attached to this earthly plane and unable to move on until I am freed by a final vote for a winner for this award.

I feel like I am in purgatory, existing with years of torment and suffering, not knowing who actually won the award and so being omitted from bloggers heaven.

I feel like the Phantom of the Oscar, to sit eternally in my seat while the celebrity reads from the card and repeats over and over ” and the winner is ” , but no final name is spoken.

In order to exorcise these demons and as a courtesy to crushedcaramel, I will just answer the questions she has set for her nominees. I will not nominate eleven other bloggers as I do not wish them to share my haunted feeling .

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“Linguists tell us that we actually have not had a thought until we can articulate it through in writing. Therefore, the more we put our thoughts down on paper, the more firmly they are formed in our minds.”
― Jonathan Hayashi

  1. DO YOU EVER FEEL DISCOURAGED ABOUT BLOGGING? WHAT DO YOU DO TO KEEP YOURSELF MOTIVATED?

I’ve only been at this since March and so far have never been discouraged. Sometimes I have an idea, sit down to type on my laptop, and then my fingers fly in a different direction on the keyboard and something unexpected develops. Other times I have no idea of what I am going to write and something just appears. It’s magic once you actually sit down and decide to write.

2.    WHAT IS YOUR OWN FAVOURITE POST FROM YOUR SITE OR THE ONE YOU WOULD RECOMMEND READERS CHECK OUT FIRST?

I have no favourites.

3.    DO YOU ENJOY CAMPING OUT IN THE GREAT OUTDOORS?

I used to, but those days are gone. I was in the boy scout movement for six years where I did a lot of camping and overnight hikes. When my children were young we enjoyed camping. I also took part in ” an all boys” camping weekend once a year consisting of family members.

4.     DO YOU ENJOY PLAYING OR WATCHING SPORT? IF SO, WHICH SPORTS?

My passion is soccer ( I still hate using that word, I prefer football). I watch the English Premier League and am a life long supporter of Tottenham Hotspur. I stopped playing at 50 because of back problems. I made my come back at 69, with indoor 6 a side co-ed soccer, but I was playing mostly against people under 30 and so gave up after a couple of months. I then tried over 55 walking soccer. We started a club with a pool of about 14 players, who after an initial spell of getting fit and rediscovering lost skills, ignored the basic rules and moved forward at the speed we chose. Over time we had more people join who complained that we were running. These new entrants were more interested in using the venue for social chats, rather than playing the game. Oh well. Nothing lasts forever and I am still very competitive.

5.         DO YOUR FRIENDS KNOW ABOUT YOUR BLOG SITE?

Yes. I post on Facebook and I used to post on Twitter before I left that particular medium. I’ve had some family members say that they have read my blogs out at the supper table at family gatherings. My grandkids get a real kick out of reading them, which leads to discussions on my past and the views I hold.

6.        WHAT IS YOUR MOST EMBARRASSING MEMORY OR EXPERIENCE?

I’ve had many embarrassing moments. I remember when I first came to Canada, and for my first job I had to take a regional bus into Montreal and then change to a city bus. While standing at the city bus stop in the pouring rain I decided to take a taxi. A car with a fare meter on its dashboard stopped by the bus stop and I opened the door, got in and directed 410 St. Nicholas Street. The driver just stared at me and said “It so happens that I’m going that way if you need a ride”. He was not a taxi he had some device on his dashboard but it wasn’t a fare meter. I apologized and said I would get out. But he replied that he didn’t mind driving me.

7.    WHICH SONGS WOULD YOU SING IN THE SHOWER WHEN YOU THINK NOBODY CAN HEAR?

That’s an easy one. I have a terrible voice, I don’t sing out loud. All the music goes on in my head.

8.        IS ANYONE ELSE IN YOUR FAMILY A BLOGGER OR VLOGGER?

No. Unfortunately.

9.     IF YOU WERE BEING A TOURIST FOR A DAY IN LONDON – WHERE WOULD YOU VISIT?

Speakers corner, Hyde Park. Just to get a flavour of the nature of London to-day. I used to love going there when I lived in London. Speakers would just turn up with a newspaper in their hands and starting reading the headlines and shouting their opinions. I also went to the speakers corner at Tower Hill, though I don’t know if it’s still there.

10.     COULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR DREAM CAKE?

A chocolate cake with cherry syrup and chocolate drizzle throughout heaped with dark chocolate shavings. Like a black forest cake, but richer and without the cream. I love dark chocolate. I have two squares of 90% Lindt dark chocolate after lunch every day.

11.       DO YOU HAVE A FAVOURITE TV DETECTIVE?

Helen Mirren as Inspector Jane Tennison in Prime Suspect.

Well, this is my half hearted attempt at responding to the Sunshine Bloggers Award. Thanks for the nomination crushedcaramel.

 

 

Moving Mountains

 

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“The function of prayer is not to influence God, but rather to change the nature of the one who prays.”
― Soren Kierkegaard

Come down from your lofty peak and walk a while amongst us simple humans. Try a little empathy, withhold your judgement for a while. I know that I am not perfect but I do try. One step forward and two steps back to-day. But perhaps tomorrow it will be two steps forward and one step back. Though I arrive at the same place as two days ago, the momentum is forward.

Don’t isolate yourself from people atop your mountain of certainty and vanity. You who know what is in everyone’s best interests. Over the years you have added layers of pride,smugness, sarcasm, gossip and built your mountain. It’s time to move that mountain. To remove all the layers you have so painstakingly built to defend your ego in this world.  Cast off your mask and let your true self come forward. Embrace it and show it to the world. No more hiding in the shadows. No more pronouncements from high on your mountain. Move that mountain.

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So be sure when you step, Step with care and great tact.

And remember that life’s A Great Balancing Act.

And will you succeed?

Yes! You will, indeed!

(98 and ¾ percent guaranteed)

Kid, you’ll move mountains.

Dr. Seuss

I sat down to write something completely different but this is what came out of my mind. I’m not sure but I think it could be in response to social media. Most social media types seem to have a view and be an expert on everything under the sun. So quick to condemn and judge other peoples opinions. The trial and persecution of people through social media is also a little disheartening.

Cannabis, weed, pot has become legal in Canada today. All of a sudden, the sky is bluer, the grass (no pun intended) is greener, the flowers are blooming, the bees are buzzing, butterflies are drifting lazily along on the mild Autumn air and there’s a smile on everyone’s face.

The Promised Land

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“All my life they had made choices for me, and I had resented it. Now the choice was mine, and once it was made, I would have no right to blame anyone else for the consequences. Loss of that privilege, to blame others, unexpectedly stung.”
― Megan Whalen Turner, A Conspiracy of Kings

Growing up I hated my neighbourhood in London’s East End. Some Friday night’s after work, a friend and I would make our way to the main train terminal and review the destination board. We would randomly select a destination from the board and purchase our ticket. The train station we had selected would usually be in an isolated countryside, and upon arriving we would start to walk down the road enjoying the freedom of the open air. We usually slept in barns, or bus shelters in villages we passed, and made our way back home Sunday afternoon.

I emigrated from London, England when I was 21. My aunt was a “war bride”, she had met a Canadian soldier in London in 1945, they married and she returned with him to Montreal, Canada. She often came back to England to visit, and on one of these occasions I asked her if she was willing to sponsor me to Canada. She said she would be delighted and so off I went. Three years later I had married, moved from Quebec to Ontario and just got on with life the best I knew how,

In thinking of the Promised Land, I often wonder if our lives parallel the Israelites, living under the tyranny of the Egyptian pharos, until Moses set them free. After leaving Egypt, Moses led the Israelites, wandering in the wilderness for years, before they reached the Promised Land, As promised by God, Moses died before he entered the Promised Land.

We grow up living under the rules laid down by our parents and teachers, striving to be free and go our own way. When freedom finally comes at eighteen, we wander in the wilderness for years, trying to find our way. We worship new found idols while searching for a place that will bring us contentment and fulfilment. Many people do not reach their promised land. It’s not overly important, for the journey may have been as fruitful as Moses. After all , Moses set his people free and gave them laws to live by so they could enter the Promised Land.

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Well, I don’t know what will happen now. We’ve got some difficult days ahead. But it really doesn’t matter with me now, because I’ve been to the mountaintop. And I don’t mind. Like anybody, I would like to live – a long life; longevity has its place. But I’m not concerned about that now. I just want to do God’s will. And He’s allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I’ve looked over. And I’ve seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the Promised Land. So I’m happy, tonight. I’m not worried about anything. I’m not fearing any man.

Martin Luther King

Perhaps the Promised Land is to be found in the spiritual rather than the material realm. Searching for the meaning of God, for purpose in our lives, to be a better person.

Perhaps we should search for the Promised Land elsewhere in the universe. To unite as a planet we may need to shift our focus towards the stars……..and as we learned to build greater seaworthy ships in order to conquer the seas and discover other lands, so we need to engineer better space crafts to travel space and inhabit the universe.

Perhaps we have always lived in the Promised Land and not been aware of it. Always searching for something when we already have what we need.  ‘ The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence’.

One of my favourite poems, is ‘ Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening’ by Robert Frost. The poets words have a sense of purpose, of going forward towards our goal without distraction. Whether he is keeping promises made to himself or promises made to another, these promises must be kept. Here is the last verse of the poem.

The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

I had a weird dream last night. I dreamed of crowds of people walking down a sidewalk beside a very wide road filled with noisy traffic. The frantic crowd……. bustling down the sidewalk…..began to slow…… to eventually form into a single line joining hands. They turned to face the road and the heavy traffic and still clasping hands started to run across. The traffic immediately disappeared and the host of people kept on running to reach the other side far in the distance. Perhaps all trying to reach the Promised Land. Together. Hand in hand.

 

Me And My Shadow And Jung

 

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“Creativity connects me to my truest self and vulnerability. There is nothing more personally liberating, than reaching for my face and peeling off the social mask that hides my; shadow self, pain and weakness. When i produce from this place of truth, the results transform both creator and beholder.”
― Jaeda DeWalt

My pre-puberty years were formed in the East End of London in the fifties. These were the years following the second world war, when my play ground was mostly “the ruins” and boarded up bombed houses……… pieces of wood are no barrier when a child seeks adventure. It was also a rough area where children roamed the streets and were very territorial. I was waylaid at times, when I happened to stray into the wrong area. Reagan would clasp my arms behind my back while Tansley would commence with the body punches. I would cry, would not defend myself, and be thinking, why are they doing this, what possible satisfaction can they get from this. Soon after they would suddenly depart, probably bored with my lack of resistance. There was no shadow self that internally raged at the injustice of it all. Just crying acceptance.

I did have my share of one on one fights. Usually some one jumped me from behind. My first reaction would be bewilderment, then I would start to cry, and then I would go into berserker mode and lash and kick and bite. On one occasion I remember reaching for a sharp piece of slate, while we rolled on the grounds of the ruins, and wanting to kill the other boy. Some inner voice checked my desire. My shadow self slowly starting to emerge.

My older brother took pleasure in punching me on the shoulder, probably acting out some frustration. I remember sitting by the fire reading a book. I can’t remember if he had punched me or taunted me, but all of a sudden the book was flying towards his throat, like a guided missile, and exploded on impact. He screamed in rage, I quickly ran towards the bathroom and locked myself in. I had no conscious thought in launching the book, I only remember feeling a slight irritation towards him. It just happened. I needed to have a long discussion with my shadow self.

I moved to Montreal, Canada when I was twenty one. I found a job at an industrial brush manufacturer working at shipping and receiving. I was the only English person in the warehouse, the other employees speaking French. There was a co-worker who would speak to me in French in a taunting manner, calling me a particular word. I would just ignore him as if he wasn’t there. He persisted. One day he spoke to me, in this taunting tone, from a wooden platform about eight feet above the warehouse floor. My next memory was of me holding him over the platform and wanting to push him off to splatter on the floor below. I don’t remember reacting, I don’t remember climbing the ladder, I don’t remember grabbing him. I just remember holding him over the platform and the fear on his face. Nine years on from my childhood experiences in East London and I had still not integrated my shadow self into my persona.

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“I embrace my shadow self. Shadows give depth and dimension to my life. I believe in embracing my duality, in learning to let darkness and light, peacefully co-exist, as illumination.”
― Jaeda DeWalt

When my grandchildren were 3-5 years old we used to play a game of shadow tag. We would chase each other, but instead of tagging a body with your hand the idea was to put your foot on their shadow. Thereby capturing their shadow. We all need to capture our shadow self.

Our “Persona” is how we would like the world to see us. We create a character based on our experiences with the world. How we interact with the world.  We try to please our parents and live up to their image and expectations of us. As we go through the education system we strive to please our teachers/professors by getting good marks and so giving them what THEY expect from us. Somewhere in all these high expectations a part of us gets lost and buried deep.

The Shadow Self forms part of the unconscious mind and is composed of repressed ideas, impulses, desires and embarrassing fears. Our parents, teachers, religious leaders tell us from an early age what is good and what is bad. What is socially acceptable and what is not………. and we need this advice to learn how to cope in the world. But over the years we suppress what we consider bad and undesirable traits and bury it in our sub-conscious. We don’t really know ourselves. We are living a version of ourselves. To fully understand ourselves we have to get in contact with our shadow side. To understand and examine our hidden sexual desires, our propensity for violence and our innate animal instincts. We have to understand them, in order to except them as part of us and to exercise control over them, so they don’t leap out unexpectedly in backlashes of anger and uncontrollable moods.

Growing up and into my early twenties I was an introvert, who always aimed to please others and not cause any commotion. I suppressed my emotions and tended to retreat from the world. At the age of twenty four I married and everything changed. For the better.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bye Bye Twitter

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“Criticism of others is thus an oblique form of self-commendation. We think we make the picture hang straight on our wall by telling our neighbors that all his pictures are crooked.”
― Fulton J. Sheen,

Imagine an overly crowded room, with two hundred people packed tightly in that room, shouting and arguing with each other. Imagine this just goes on day after day. Finally your mind blanks out, there is just this incessant noise that keeps droning on and on. That is how I felt when I decided to leave twitter this month.

I had such high expectations when I decided to join Twitter in March of this year. I dreamed of it opening my mind to various experts in their field, analysing and discussing in 280 words, the important issues of the day. With this in mind I initially followed a number of ” commentators” on all sides of the political spectrum and religious beliefs. As the weeks past I discovered new people to follow based on replies and retweets by the initial people I followed. At its peak I followed around sixty people.

I then discovered “Trolls”. One Saturday night in replying to a tweet on Christianity, I received a confusing answer to my reply. This went on for a while, my confusion increasing, till the penny finally dropped. I asked point blank am I being “Trolled” and I received a like and a retweet. My final reply before I blocked them was ” Goodnight sweet children, hope tomorrow is a better day for you”. When I was very young, perhaps from six to nine years old, we played a game called ” knock down ginger”. We would knock on someone’s door and then run as fast as we could down the street in fear of being discovered. Trolls were a little like that, making noise and quickly moving on to the next victim. Of course these trolls were adults and not six to nine years old. Some people just never grow up.

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“A dozen more questions occurred to me. Not to mention twenty-two possible solutions to each one, sixteen resulting hypotheses and counter-theorems, eight abstract speculations, a quadrilateral equation, two axioms, and a limerick. That’s raw intelligence for you.”
― Jonathan Stroud, Ptolemy’s Gate

Disillusionment comes slowly. I followed some main street media columnists, as a way of getting instant Twitter feed to the columns they had written. These were media personalities, with about eighty thousand or more followers, that I found, personable, articulate and credible. It was a shock to me that their Twitter comments were in stark contrast to the persona they projected on the main media stage. Their comments were usually sarcastic, defensive and demeaning and rarely answered any critical question put to them. One such reply from a few of these columnists was,  ” If you’re so smart why do you only have forty followers on Twitter”. The pure arrogance of this. Intelligence equates to the number of followers you have on Twitter. The Kardashians, Justin Bieber and Donald Trump must be the greatest thinkers in the world.

Current numbers for Twitter are around 335 million users. After large annual increases in users over the last twelve years the numbers have stagnated in the last three years. When I told my teenage grandchildren that I had left Twitter because there was a lack of intelligent conversation to be had, they just laughed at me. “You don’t go to Twitter for intelligent conversation bro”. They’ve always called me bro since we did a family rap session.  As an example they showed me a tweet of a photo with dog poop on the bed with the caption ” my dog just pooped on the bed”. I forget how many hundreds of thousands of likes it received.

Perhaps my experience of negativity was because I followed so many political and religious commentators and people are very passionate about these subjects. It may also be because there is such a great divide these days in all spectrums of politics and religion. I find religion is becoming very political, political ideology is intruding more and more into the Christian church and dividing it’s members.

My cup tends to be always half full, so I may return to Twitter at some point, after rethinking who I should follow.