Archive for the 'Philosophy' Category

On travelling solo.

No one can say that my life has not been interesting.  From the very beginning it appears I was destined to live a life full of challenges interspersed with an occasional adventure.

It all began in Singapore where my mother, just twenty-one, fell pregnant with her second child.  She had married my father, a slim and charming Irish airforce man at nineteen and their first posting had been to Singapore.  A couple of years later we returned to England and within a year or so we were off to Germany where I began my schooling. I distinctly remember being dragged to school through the snow… not eager to leave the warmth of our top floor flat and the sweet stories of ‘Listen to mother’ on the radio.  Three years later I had to leave my first best friend Gillian and return to England.  I cried for a week and experienced my first broken heart.

Back in England it felt like we moved incessantly.  House after house and school after school.  I became a bookworm.  The corner of the school library and a soft cushion became my friend. The books I read being familiar faces no matter where I found myself.  It was during these years that I discovered the value of knowing how to be alone and I remember my mother telling me how important it is to know how to do this.  To being easy in your own company.  To savour the very sweetness that is solitude.

Finally in my teenage years when my father left the airforce and started his own company we started to settle and yet life began to fall apart.  My father, a typical irishman was a drinker and the more money he made the more he drank.  During his airforce years he had never really been home and I was probably to young to be aware of his addiction.  Now it was glaringly obvious and his indifference to me became a thorn in my side but, at the same time, I developed a deep friendship with my mother that lasted until the day she died.

A week after my seventeenth birthday, having been dumped unkindly by my first boyfriend, I hopped on a plane and went stateside to escape yet another broken broken heart and my father.  I stood at Atlanta airport feeling tiny, afraid and incredibly vulnerable.  All I could think was ‘how am I going to survive this’….but I did.  I ended up in South Carolina and spent a year exploring life, making friendships that are still alive today, learning to stand on my own two feet and the art of ‘conversation with a stranger’.

A year or so later I returned to England and instantly regretted the decision.  Driving through the grey, damp streets on a foggy November morning I longed for the sunny skies of the carolinas, the friends I had made there and once again to be far away from my father and the shit storm that surrounded him.  Just eighteen I sat in my parents little house in England and felt lost, alone and once again incredibly vulnerable.  No plan and no idea where to start. My parents marriage a mere pile of rubble and his love affair with the bottle all the stronger.

Now so many years later I am so grateful for those early adventures.  I am eternally grateful for those early life lessons of savouring solitude and travelling solo.  Of learning to talk to strangers and of reading anything and everything.  Of knowing that broken hearts do mend and that there is power in vulnerability.  Of knowing that you don’t have to tolerate other people’s stuff no mater who they are.

Today I savour my solitude and that little armchair at the back of the bookstore is still my friend.  I have more books than clothes and still love ‘conversations with strangers’.  To hear snippets of their stories and exchange friendly smiles.   I am alone, a little lost and once again feeling incredible vulnerable…..but it feels like home.

It doesn’t have to be this way…

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In my little world right now I have people close to me who are suffering the unimaginable – stuff we can’t even dream up.  Worlds being turned so upside down that the simple act of breathing becomes impossible.  Heartbreaking, excruciating stuff.  The life is not fair kind of stuff.  The cry for three days and still not catch your breath kind of stuff.

They are not doing this to themselves.  It is forced upon them by the universe for whatever lesson it is they have come to learn in this lifetime.  It is out of their control but it is also out of everyone’s control.  It is just the way it is.  The universe’s plan.  It’s unbearable, but it is the universe’s plan so we catch our breath and move forward as best we can.  It is not in anyones’ control so we breathe and move.  Step by step. Day by day.  Knowing we are doing our best.  All of us doing our best in every moment.

Also in my little world I have other people close to me who are suffering due to the choices of those around them. I have been in that place.  I know how it feels.  I know every single desperate inch of how it feels.  It’s equally heartbreaking….but it’s different.  It’s different because it doesn’t have to be.  It’s the ‘choice’ of the other person.  It can be fixed.  It may take courage but it can be fixed.

Do something once and it is an accident.  Do it again and it’s a choice.  Didn’t have to happen.  Didn’t have to go down that road.  Didn’t have to hurt the people around you.  Didn’t have to do that.

Do it again and it becomes selfish.  It becomes weak.  It lacks integrity and soul.  It becomes pathetic. It becomes deliberate.  The deliberate cause of suffering to others.

Addictions are a disease they say.  Perhaps.

Choice is not a disease.

Addictions are selfish and destructive.  They are harmful and hurtful.  They cause pain wherever they go….and they go everywhere.  They are everywhere.  They are all around me causing immense suffering to people that I love dearly and so many people I don’t even know.  People I have yet to meet.  Addictions are selfish and they are a choice!  I am astonished at the prevalence of them.  I am astonished at the quiet whispering voices as they tell me their stories.  Their stories of breaking hearts and loss of hope.  Stories of broken families and suffering children.  Stories.  So many stories.  I am over whelmed by them.

I do not understand despite a lifetime of being in this place.  I do not understand someone making that choice.  I do not understand the destructive selfishness of it all.

I watched my father destroy his family unit. Destroy his job, his friendships and eventually destroy himself.  Done and dusted and pushing up the daisies by the time he was my age.  He knew what he was doing.  As a child I knew he had chosen his addiction over me.  His selfish destruction of everything around him was more important than I was.

And then I watched it again….

It was a choice.  It was not a disease it was a choice.

It simply didn’t have to be that way.

It never does.

 

 

A new year…..with a suitcase from the past.

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There is something wonderful about a new year.  A vast horizon of some three hundred and sixty odd days of emptiness waiting to be filled.  Pages and pages of days anticipating the arrival of stories.  Stories of summer nights and life changing experiences.  The sweet blankness of the unfamiliar.  So many new chapters of a book yet to be written.  Each of us with our own blank book and our own empty pages.

Somewhere, in the dark corners of my mind, I imagine that I am able to shed all the unwanted parts of myself and leave them, tattered and rejected in the past of the old year.  That I can begin the new year as a new person.  Glowing and unafraid with just a beautiful sunny horizon beckoning me to step forward and take the deep unhindered breaths of a fresh new start.

But it is not so…

All those tattered and intolerable parts of me step into the new year along side me.  Shadows.  The darker parts of my character dragging themselves along for the ride despite my deep desire to leave them, crushed and discarded on the forgotten side of midnight.  Is it that I did not work hard enough on myself?  Did I not fill the last 365 pages with stories of being good enough?  Did I not try hard enough to peel away the layers so that a new me, a me without the shadows, can start writing those magnificent stories.

I thought that perhaps I could step into 2017 unafraid.  I thought that my work there was done.

But it is not so…

In the first few silent hours of this brand new year I read this quote  ‘ There is great value in being fearless.  For too much of my life I was too afraid.  Too frightened by it all.  That fear is one my biggest regrets’.

I sat sullen in the guest room of my friends house and decided that if I am ever to cast off this murky war I have with myself I need to understand it.  I  need to break it down into little pieces.  Manageable bites.  I need to wrestle with the individual parts of it for as a whole it is too strong for me.  Otherwise it will win.  It will always win.

So I take out my brand new journal.  The one with the delightful, creamy, empty pages waiting for my pen to fill them with exquisite tales of bravery and success.  I think of this thing….this fear.  Of how it bears itself to me.  For I am not afraid of real things.  Snakes or spiders are not my demon.  I do not fear death or deadly disease.  I do not fear open spaces nor being alone.  Being alone is my friend.  No my fears are not so simple.

And so I write on those new velvety pages…

I fear I will disappoint myself.  I fear that I am not as strong or as brave as I think.  That I am not really the sum of all the intelligent parts and that the result will be breathtakingly short of all the infinite possibilities.

….. and so I fear that I am, after all, not enough, even for myself.

I fear my lack of courage.

I fear that trust is too big a mountain for me to climb and…

and I fear that this broken heart will never mend.

 



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