Be a positive person like me!

At times I really do wonder why people get in such dizzy states.  One look through the newspapers and why, it’s possible to drink a bottle of absinthe, down some benzodiazepines and slit one’s wrists in the bath-tub.

Sure, it appears that democracy is on the wane. Instead of dictators with enormous moustaches we end up with rather nerdy looking European sorts introducing ominous sounding ‘austerity’ measures to the masses.

Watching the local news, one could be forgiven for thinking that all young people will stab you with foot long machetes before suing you for emotional distress caused by your bleeding onto their trainers (manufactured by skilful children, cheerily paid almost 50 cents a day).

Actually, I have an alternative. Go out, smile, enjoy the few hours of daylight that are available this time of year. Enjoy the autumn colours, enjoy the cold and the feeling of warmth when you get back home. I had this revelation whilst meditating in my car sitting in my favourite spot; the woods.

Doom certainly seems to sell.

If doom is your thing, then I would remind you that in approximately 8 billion years, our sun will die and all life in our solar system will come to an end. so all the worries in the world, all the cruelties amount to nought. If nothing else cheers you then, perhaps that thought will.

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Zen and the art of musical theatre

The show is going very well so far! I’ll post pictures once the show is finished as I’m not allowed to whilst it’s still on for some reason.  The show is a sell-out for the run so I especially pleased about this.

I really am a creature of habit before a show opens. When I arrive home, I’m generally pacing up and down the house with a wild look in my eyes. I will sit down for a minute then go back to pacing about with a feeling of excitement in my tum.

To try and calm this down I have been trying to meditate before the show. I’ll be  honest here and say I find this nigh on impossible. I am aware that I have a raised heartbeat, that songs keep coming into my mind and that I mentally rehearse certain lines to see how they sound if I emphasise different words. Needless to say Nirvana is looking a way off!

Still, the nerves/excited feelings are absolutely vital for me.  I can’t imagine going on stage and feeling like it’s as exciting as going to the office or buying a tin of beans.

Everyday Epiphany

Epiphany: A sudden awakening. A moment where ‘everything becomes clear’. Where our awareness is heightened to some new level and life cannot go back to the same ever again.

Sounds dramatic doesn’t it? Something that happens in religious texts, such as on the road to Damascus.

Actually, I’m writing more about the unseen epiphany.

The first one I could think about was realising that people die, and they don’t have to be old and sick. A good friend of mine died at 18 years old ( I was 17 at the time). One day he was alive and well, next day…dead. Turned out he had hepatic cancer, nobody knew.

Another big one, was having sex for the first time. The world is different from that moment on. You cannot see the world through ones old eyes anymore.

How about when you find out there isn’t a Santa?

Or when your ego is bruised and you are told that you aren’t as good as you think you are.

Or a moment when you realise you have a skill that you were previously unaware of.

I guess the thing is that most of the time, our awareness is dulled by a constant chatter in our heads; that we don’t actually take time to see what is around us and that we miss out on moments that can change us fundamentally.

Dumb it down

 At times my patience is endless, at other times it is shorter than a midget who cannot find his built up shoes.

Yesterday I was irritable. I was cursed with ear-worms and this made meditation something of a challenge.

However, my irk was not prompted by any existential angst but instead by stupidity.

Strange, that whenever I read about education in the UK press, I am told that we have higher exam passes than the year previously, that thousands of young people are equipped to go to university or paid employment. Yet, I am consistently stunned by the ignorance shown by some young people.

Yesterday I was asked such questions as “Do theatre’s only do pantomimes”?, “Are history teachers interested in history?”, “Was Shakspere real?”, “Who was Stan Laurel?”, “Would the history teacher know about the coliseum?”, “So, Jesus died on the cross? Was that the end of it all then?”

I’m no Christian as you may have gathered but even I have to tip my hat to the church for having a pretty effective marketing department, I think most people get the idea that Christians belive in the resurection.

It’s tempting to suggest that a Zen master would be helpful in slapping these people, of course the slap is an act of compassion, though it does not seem so at the time. Tempting though…very tempting.

 

Learning Joy from Vortigaunts

Strangely wise I’ve always been something of a fan of computer/video games. My first computer was a Spectrum 48k complete with rubber keys and I would spend rainy and dark afternoons playing games on it. Perhaps my views are tinged with nostalgia as the games were simple and had monochrome sprites rather than the more realistic graphics we see today.

Spectrum games were certainly quirky things. My £1 pocket money meant that every other week I could get a new title, particular favourites of the time were ‘Streaker’ a game where you wake up naked in an alternate universe and have to solve puzzles to get your clothes back. Another simplistic classic was ‘General Election’ whereby you had to choose how left/right wing you were according to the variables in the electorate.

These days games seem to be endless killing sprees. I’m not keen on games such as call of duty or modern warcraft. There is nothing quirky about them, instead they tend to glamorize war in my opinion. However there are some glimmers of imagination still out there in the video gaming world. One of my favourite characters are the Vortigaunts from the Half Life series.

One particularly useful thing they do is refer to humans as ‘The’. So I would be ‘The Egbutnobacon’. My son would be ‘The Patrick’. I find this particularly useful when it comes to meditation. After all, we do identify with names so much don’t we? We may become offended when somebody forgets our name, or misspells it. We feel embarrassed when we can’t remember somebodys name. It seems then that names are pretty central to our ego, our sense of self. If you can strip away with your name, which surely must be the ultimate label, then maybe just maybe we can begin to free up a little.

Who knows? Maybe we could end up naked in an alternate universe.

Super fantastic shiny things

 This is the same model of mobile phone that I use and have used for years!

Over the past 8 months I’ve been working with homeless people and refugees. Even the poorest people  in society think my phone is rubbish. I get no end of stick from my younger colleagues whom seem to have a new phone every other month.

Personally I’ve never really been into material things. I like my Harris Tweed jackets etc but they are all second hand.

Still, people tell me that their super-duper Apple phones and Android gizmo’s will make my life amazing.

Just like all the advertisements you see on TV where women with perky breasts and gleaming white teeth offer their immaculate children buckets of chicken, my joy will transcend all known pleasures.

The truth is of course, it wont. It’s a sad thing that so many people look for happiness in their material possessions. Indeed, it seems our entire culture and it’s economy is based on the pursuit of selling shiny things in order to find happiness.

I’m a very quiet rebel. I don’t want many things at all and I don’t believe that by owning a thing I will be any happier. I’d even go further than that and say  that happiness is all well and good, but I don’t obsess over it. If I am happy then all well and good, but, let it go, just like if I am miserable, oh well, let it go.

 

Anniversary

It’s been 8 years to the day that my father died whilst on holiday. He was 61 and to be honest it was completely out of the blue when it happened. He was scuba diving (he’d never done this before, he was something of a sedentary chap) and something happened. Either it was a heart attack or some kind of “Freak” wave that then triggered off his arrest. Regardless he didn’t come back from that holiday. He was with my mother at the time and the horrible thing was the boat broke down so she had to stay with him whilst he turned different colours.

Hmm

Grim eh.

Still it’s 8 years on and life goes on. I am pretty much the double of my father, I have a great many of his characteristics too, but of course I am bound to do, genetics and learned behaviour and all that!

I once read a quote in a book that challenged the reader to ‘Live as though your father is dead’. One could be rather glib about this as I’ve been doing this for 8 years, but I think the real purpose of the authors words are to be free of the expectations of your father. I think it’s an interesting exercise, and a challenging one. Because despite his physical death, it took me time to let go of his ghost, his expectations.

I think for me, that meditation has helped me start to let go of expectations, I must emphasise that I really do mean ‘start to let go’.

Excitement

Well, since I’ve taken up meditation again I’ve started to feel much happier. Sadly, a lot of people I know have no idea about meditation and think it’s either weird or dangerous.

Strange that. Considering millions of people practice this on a daily basis that us in the west view it with suspicion.

It has such a nice feeling for me. I find it easy to stop drinking when I’ve meditated as I feel so mellow. It’s one of those things though that is deceptively simple.  One lets go of the mind, by that I mean that I stop following my thoughts, that I just let them go. They still come and go but I don’t get hooked on them.

I’m also excited because the next 2 nights I’m on a TV drama. ITV’s drama ‘Appropriate Adult’. I’m looking forward to this and have decided to miss a rehearsal for Guys N Dolls on Monday.

The musical is coming along nicely, I’m still unconvinced by the script and feel that the show is too long. However I am enjoying the experience and I think the show will do well.

Planning permission

I’ve stopped planning things, making lists and setting goals.
I used to do these things earlier in my life and on reflection all I can say is “what was the point of that?”.
Instead, I now accept that life is littered with random events and most of these fall into one of two categories, miserable and horrible. Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m quite happy with many things in my life. My wife is sexy and my son is witty. I can belt out a tune and my acting career can only improve. It’s just that when random stuff happens in life, it throws a curve ball into ones plans.
John Lennon famously sang “Life is what happens to you when your busy making other plans”. I’m not a huge fan of his work to be honest, but I think he hit the nail on the head with this one.
Listening to whims is interesting. My earlier post ‘even my browser is insecure’ alluded to some of the whims I’ve been following recently.
I was researching my extremely difficult novel yesterday whilst at the gym. I was irritable however. I was irritated by other people and their behaviour. I did wonder what the point of some behaviours were and was interested in my own responses. For example, I questioned why I felt annoyed when some chap decided to admire his midriff in the mirror. Why was I irritable in the sauna when a young boy (aprox 11) came into the steam room and left the door open and then spent time slapping his feet against the floor.
You see, I planned to go to the gym, do my exercise and then have a sauna afterwards. This was my plan, indeed this was my folly. Random chance dictated that I would encounter individuals whose behaviour I found annoying. The question I had uppermost in my mind though was “Why am I irritated?” and this lead to “Am I irritated?” which lead to “How do I let go of this, how do I rid myself of desire?”

Answers on a post card please.

I know nothing

The death knell is ringing on my career. I welcome it too. Mental health isn’t anywhere near as fun as it could be. Patients and nurses aren’t encouraged to have relationships that come close to friendship any more. Instead people are force fed CBT (Cognitive behavioural therapy) and medication and nurses are sent away to learn how to promote rationality.
I don’t know anything about life. I am particularly ignorant when it comes to the lives of others too. I can hear their stories, and wonder about them, I can see them in their homes or their workplace, and see their drug taking but really who knows anything?
I am still interested in personality and people and the work of change. I just think that encouraging rationality is a bit of a cop out. It lacks a certain imagination and creative flourish.
“Life is islands of ecstasy in an ocean of ennui; after 30 land is seldom seen.” said Luke Rhinehart in his book ‘The Dice Man’.
Who can honestly say, what is sane and what is in-sane? Who can really differentiate between rationality and irrationality?
Is a man sane because he wears a suit and works in an environment where the price of soyabeans is speculated upon? Is a man insane because he one day decides to wear a ginger wig and speak in a language he has made up that afternoon?
Is rationality so cherished that we do not tolerate the uncomfortable anymore?
I really don’t know. In fact I’m beginning to wake up to the fact I know nothing.