Kick the L out of Lonely

I’m not sure if I actually feel lonely or if Loneliness is whispering her voice to my ear, just for now. Just not sure.

See, yesterday, I was going to spend the day with my friend, Laureen – we call each other friends without benefits, which is what friends used to mean – but she couldn’t make it. I went to a 6.30 am meditation, bouncing with irrepressible joy, meditated and had breakfast with the lovely band of others. Then returned home with nothing to do but change sheets, wash clothes, cook next week’s lunches and start my new business. Actually, lots to do and just doing it alone, then.

Of course, Facebook tells me that everyone out there – absolutely everyone, without exception – is meeting with friends and having a very unlonely time. I was, it seems, the only person on the planet without other bodies around him, yesterday.

Then, today, I cycle into the city to enjoy the exercise, the city markets and a coffee while I write this. Along the way I’m observing, counting, analysing … in a non-analytically vague sort of way. Yes, there are small groups of cyclists and walkers but most are alone. I peer inside passing cars and most are inhabited by one person. There are four patrons at this café – all men, all alone. I chat to a couple of them and, like me, are enjoying the aloneness time … time to think our own thoughts or no thoughts at all. Time to just be, unfettered by others’ expectations and needs.

Now, I’m the weirdo who says a cheery hello to everyone he passes. What I notice[1] is that most people – particularly those alone – look up with surprise and then an astonished joy washes over their faces … people alone and thirsty for and basking in an unexpected and momentary flash of connection with this cherry other. Many, many of these astonished joys are on the faces of those with other faces beside them. I wonder if many who are not alone are lonely, as if being next to another body – or many other bodies – is not enough to stave off that ever-present loneliness.

[1] Do I notice because it’s happening or because I want it to happen; expectation creating reality and all that? Who knows? I sure don’t!

Sadghru says that if we’re bored with ourselves, we’re in bad company. If we’re lonely and unhappy with ourselves, we’re in bad company. Being with other bodies won’t shift the feeling we have when we’re alone with our sad, bad, mad company.

So, yes, we’re always thirsty for connection and, because we rely on the outside world to make us happy, we continually search for other bodies to fill the void. But they cannot. No body can create the real connection we’re thirsting for.

Loneliness will never be sloughed off with tribes of friends or family around for we’ve all known loneliness in a crowd, in a happy, supportive group.

There is another connection that does fulfil and we’re never taught to honour or grow it. It’s our connection with God, the universe, Yahweh, Great Spirit, Christ, Buddha or whatever we call that which is greater than all of this. It’s that connection with Self and, just as we need to go to the gym regularly, we need to return to the One Self regularly to honour and grow it. When we do this, lonely has no chance – we kick the L out of it and lonely becomes One-ly.

With our connection to the Big One that we are, we become better company to ourselves and to any other bodies we find ourselves next to.


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Fearless Village

This message was written in Kurdish and then slavishly translated into English. The English version was hand delivered by two horse riders to the U.S. command post in Kabul:

Dear Sirs,

Our village is not your village, not your home. This is where we do what we do and no one else needs to know those things. We do not need to tell anyone. Also, we do not need to know what you do in yours.

We can tell you some things, however:

Firstly, we do not celebrate what you call Easter for we revere life, not death. We are not afraid of death, you understand, but our deaths are on our terms. We celebrate peoples’ lives at the funeral but we to not find uplifting the celebration for a group of people killing one man.

Your village does this and we have no need to make you change – we respect our ways and, therefore, we respect all ways.

Secondly, our village has no celebrations around wars starting or ending for none of our people have gone to war. Your village makes a distinction; that private murderers are murderers and government-employed murderers are soldiers or heroes. We cannot make that distinction. That is not our way. All are murderers, whoever pays them.

Some of our men have been taken and punished for not fighting in the war against you. We understand that these people are fearful and insecure in their beliefs and so must trample on others to bring them a tainted peace. Yes, a tainted peace but a peace of sorts. Their fear cannot deliver them a true peace.

However, please understand that the security and peace we feel around our beliefs is so strong, it is the greatest security you can have – we can never pass them on or “taint” you, as you sometimes say.

We do not need to explain our beliefs and we do not need anyone to understand them. We just ask that you please respect our activities and our beliefs.

Upon delivery, the two riders were imprisoned for two days then shot. A single drop from a B15 bomber rendered a village, high in the Kurd mountains, extinct. The 2,000-year occupation of a verdant valley ended abruptly with the press of a fearful thumb on a red button.

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The National Sport Of Offendy

The national sport for many nations is no longer on the sports field. For many, it is now Offendy.

This started in the USA where the national sport was Suendy – sueing people to make money and to avoid having to think for oneself.

This has spread – without the legal intervention – far and wide to people with a grudge against themselves, cheaply passing it on to others … Offendy.

As part of a local writing group, I contributed several stories and helped to publish a book of our short stories. Six months later someone chose to be offended by four of the 70,000 words in the book. Despite the hundreds who have enjoyed these stories, some members want to discuss this because one person chooses to be offended, when a character describes someone as not the full quid, a common phrase.

I don’t know why we’re even discussing it and this is why I need to say that:

Several years ago, as a regular columnist for a national, monthly magazine, I wrote an article about men being abused by their spouses. I ran a men’s group at the time and I used true stories in the article, names changed, of course.

The magazine received three letters to the editor, offended and complaining that we should not be discussing this topic. Two weeks later I received a phone call from a man who was too afraid to speak publicly (letter, email etc.), telling me that, two weeks earlier, he was about to commit suicide as a result of abuse from his wife. However, he happened to read my article that day and it gave him both hope and a new perspective; he decided not to kill himself.

Now, forget the writer and the topic: the same article offended three people and saved the life of another.

As writers, it is impossible to know how readers will react to our words. Readers get to choose their reactions. We don’t.

If we think we have any control over reader reactions, we’re deluding ourselves.

If we try to dumb down our writing to avoid offence, it ceases to be art with integrity and becomes a contrivance.

Yes, we must respect our art and our stories. We must respect our readers. If we write to offend, we’re in politics, not art.

And, yes, some art is designed to provoke, to stir our little grey cells, to challenge current paradigms and to encourage change. However, deliberately provoking offence is not honest art and nor will it provoke constructive change.

So, if we have not the desire to offend, we’re free to write authentic stories with authentic characters who speak and behave authentically. If one among many chooses to be offended when others are not, what should be changed … the writing or the Offendy player’s choice of reaction?

Methinks the answer is very clear.

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Climate Change Caring Will Not Back Down

These climate change protests have nothing to do with science or logic. They’re about caring.

Statistics, as you know, are a group of numbers looking for a fight. As soon as someone parades a number or a fact, there’s a posse after him, riding it into the dust. Numbers don’t have a chance. They always back down.

 Despite the fact that large groups of scientists agree that we’re in dire straits, there’s an equally vocal group telling us not to worry. Many are paid mouthpieces of corporate or political greed, many are afraid to break ranks of an insular academic conclave and many are just stupid and lazy, unable or unwilling to undertake their own independent research.

So, here we are, stuck in the middle with confusion and a desire to express our caring. The truth is that we cannot trust scientists. We cannot trust science which looks at a diversely beautiful and interconnected world through the narrow lens of dissection and separation.

I’d rather ask a drought-stricken farmer, a dispossessed Amazonian villager or a polar bear on a shrinking iceberg than a scientist. These three see what is, without the distortion of funded research, peer pressure and selective blindness.

I don’t know any farmers, Amazonians or bears so I must return to my internal knowing, the seat of quiet, eternal Truth. That is all I can trust. That is all any of us can trust. However, we consistently forget the Truth we hold within – or we denigrate and dismiss it – as we flail about trying to untangle the web of lies tossed like a weed-encrusted net, thrown to capture a lone wolf. The wolf is in there somewhere, snarling for release, but we see only the dirty, tangled net and wonder where Truth went.

We know the earth is in trouble. We know this.

We don’t know how bad the situation is; how many years the ailing patient has to live. We don’t know what caused it; a natural cycle or human abuse? We don’t know the best solution; will the earth shrug off our stupidity or does it need our help? We know we don’t know any of the answers. All we know is that we’re a part of the problem and maybe we could be a part of the solution.

We don’t know the science or the facts – not really – but we do know that we care. Our caring is beyond analysis, beyond calculation, beyond refute. We simply care and that caring is beyond any petty bickering over numbers that back down.

Our caring stands on an unshakeable pedestal, looking down on all the numbers, scattered as confetti on a sad and wailing earth.

Caring cannot argue. It simply knows.

So, in the face of bickering gods-of-greed, we know that we don’t know but know that we must do something … anything. We beseech politicians and corporates who choose deafness, hearing nothing but the folding of a dollar bill. None are listening but our caring continues to call and a need for action arises from that. It will not back down.

So, we march in the streets, write our songs, meet and discuss, pen our missives and blogs and our caring – as big as the Mother – carries us to the next action.

Politicians frantically erect their petty laws, banning us from meeting, from protesting, from thinking … all the while too noisy to realise that they need only listen to their own Truth, howling in their stinking nets. They could stop, cuts the nets of obfuscation and deceit and they’d find the howling Wolf of Truth would stop snarling. As it is released they’d see it goes quiet and rubs itself against their legs in gratitude for freedom. The perceived foe of Truth is our greatest friend and snarls no more. It simply walks off, guiding us to our simple solution.

We cannot see our reflection in boiling water. Only when it is still and cool can we see who we really are.

Meanwhile, we care so much. And caring takes us to action, knowing that any particular action may not help, but at least we are in the act of caring. It is easier to steer a moving ship than a stationary one. Once we are moving, Truth and Caring will show us the next step … and the next and the next.

Sitting on our bums, in acquiescence to the gods-of-greed, we have no steerage.

However, out of our chairs, on the streets … only then can Caring give us the next step … and the next … and the next.

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Nature Is Senseless And Straight

Nature hears not the crackle of microphones nor the static they produce

It hears just the crackle of burning trees and the fire in our hearts

Nature is blind to pictures we paint in numbers and words

It sees not if it’s a suit, sari or school uniform that plants trees and tends on growth

Nature feels not the anger and injustice as we trade insults, fairy tales and need to be right

It feels, rather, the harmony of caring, the beauty in hearts and results of straight action

Nature smells not the stench of deceit nor the odour of obfuscation

It smells only the spade in earth, the hand-held hose and the smile of gathered people

Nature cannot taste the barren dust of a sponsored lie nor the salty phlegm of a guilt-sown promise

It tastes but the soft-sweet balm of community action, the tongue-tingling smile of unfettered love

We have no lies to tell Nature for they but bounce and echo in our cavernous guts

They harden our veins, divide our trust and steal our spirit

To Nature there is but straight action, grass-roots community and the flourishing love of growth

All else, two leggeds, is clouds of empty ash floating by verdant streams and forests

You may crackle your microphones and bend your rotting throats, vainly imagining It believes you

You may stomp and wail your pretty proofs, you’re I’m-right-and-they’re-wrong protestations

Nature, though, takes no heed of speeches nor hopes, white coats nor suits

It heeds but hand-held spades, watering hoses and the scorch of straight-hearted action

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Where The Moddle Hawkes Fly

Where the wind meets the sun, in a flat-sea horizon, there flies the majestic moddle hawk. They are not rare, these moddle hawks, but they’re seldom seen.

The few who have seen these swooping flysters, red feathered paint brushes swiping the sky with invisible ink … yes, the few who have seen them have not the courage to tell of this for unbelievers can be brutal in word and deed.

Indeed, some seers of the moddle hawk have been harshly ridiculed and, even, shunned by life-long friends who only see what they expect to see.

Seers, on the other hand, have limitless possibilities in their pockets and expect nothing … or, should we say, expect something from the nothing from which they’re birthed. They expect to be surprised, to be proved wrong and to be uplifted by that which they didn’t know existed.

Where the moddle hawks scorch their lazy wings on a burnished sky is where the sparkles fly, the fireworks glisten.

On the second Tuesday of a week-long week there’ll be those who know, those with patient eyes and naïve hearts will see the sparks of a thousand exotic colours and the odours of dandelion soup and garlic custard or hear a giant’s chuckle and an angel’s whisper.

Not for the cynics or the geniuses, these soft-felt caresses of the soul. ‘Tis only for the childish, the dreamer, the meek and mild will inherit the craving for silence of a thousand waves. For the poets, singers and carers …

Not for the punishers and controllers, the contrivers and pamperers, do these softly hinting tongues of God speak. No, ‘tis not for the faint hearted obeyers of avarice and laws. No, ‘tis only in defenceless anarchy do the misty soldiers of peace belong.

Yes, we say, put away your white coats, black suits and throttling ties. Just for a moment, we say, just for a moment. Put away your lounge’s box of programming, your rules of engagement and emerge as if from your mother’s loins – awake, aware and awestruck. Silent, serious then silly. Turn down your duties, diaries and demands. Go shake your friend, take their hand and walk barefoot in the tantalising grass and look where you’ve never looked before.

Up.

Up where the moddle hawks paint the sky you’ll see their words as the invisible ink dribbles down the cloud-free page and washes the sinking sun. You’ll see the thousand unseen colours. You’ll smell the dandelion soup and garlic custard and know – for just this moment – the breath of God is with you.

Is you.

This story is from My Whispering Teachers, available here.

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Life Snuck Up When I Least Expected Her

I wasn’t paying attention. No, not really. Just taking one day at a time, alternatively planning and worrying about the next step. Then giving up and just living. Just doing it.

And then She snuck up on me. Unbidden. Unhidden.

Lying on my yoga mat in a class of eleven others and the teacher – ooh, already it’s sounding weirdly sacred – and I started to chuckle … quietly chuckle inwardly as we were in complete silence. In shivasana, the pose of Shiva, the god of destruction and renewal, the coffin pose, on our backs, relaxed and with closed eyes, I felt Life move into me. She smiled. I smiled. Then I chuckled. I still chuckle, a week later.

You see, I had done several personal development workshops as both participant and as facilitator. Often, in these, we are asked (or ask) to write down our perfect day. The step-by-step, minute-by-minute activities and feelings we would have in our perfect day.

Mine usually started at 5.30 am, rising in peace and curiosity, yoga from 6.00 to 7.00, my favourite breakfast, writing for an hour or more, coffee and chat with friend(s) from 10.00 to 11.00ish, lunch with my partner, an open afternoon in which I can choose work or play … and on it goes, with all the juicy, positive feelings in each moment.

When I wrote those perfect days, way back when, I hungered and thirsted for perfect days and they never happened. Then I got on with life, daily life, life with its ups and downs, trials and triumphs. Meaningless life, dutiful life, that served the purpose of filling the time between The Entrance and The Exit. It was joyful, sad, funny, stressful, calm, panicked and everything in between … just life, ordinary life for an ordinary person.

Then, as I lay in that coffin pose, emptying my mind of its ordinariness, an extraordinary little thing happened. I realised I was living my perfect day, every day. I didn’t always have coffee with a friend but I could have. I didn’t always have my favourite breakfast but I could have. I had slipped into my perfect day, unknowingly.

Life delivered my perfect day to me long before I realised She’d done it. She’d snuck up, handed me the perfect day and I’d gone on living, oblivious to the magic I’d eased into.

So, thanks for the day, Life. Thanks for it every day. My greatest act of gratitude, I imagine, is a heart-felt, belly-felt chuckle. How entirely unaware can we be? How grateful can I be? As chuckly grateful as I am every day. Perfect!

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