“Do you wake up as I do, having forgotten what it is that hurts or where, until you move? There is a second of consciousness that is clean again. A second that is you, without memory or experience, the animal warm and waking into a brand new world. There is the sun dissolving the dark, and light as clear as music, filling the room where you sleep and the other rooms behind your eyes.”
― Jeanette Winterson
I'm tired — physically and emotionally.
I need to catch up on my sleep and prepare myself and support my family for Brian's funeral on Monday. It's going to be a difficult day for everyone.
This past week, I've kept myself busy or been busy with work — and that's a good thing. (I hope that doesn't come across as too off-hand.) My wife, having been signed off from work has, I know, been struggling to find any sense of purpose or meaning in her days and, understandably, has taken refuge in daily telephone calls to her brother and sisters whilst at the same time trying to stay on top of the funeral arrangements. My three children, Evie, Hetty and Floz, have also found it hard to adjust to a life without Grandad, and this will be the first funeral they will all have attended. It's not going to be easy.
One thing I've enjoyed has been going back through my old photos of Brian/BTP/Captain Chaos/Dad (I never really settled on one name for Brian), which has reminded me not only of some fantastic family gatherings but how roguish we looked together. When I said, in an earlier post, that I intended to carry on Brian's Mr Awkward streak of mischievousness, I wasn't joking. I won't let any or very few opportunities pass by where I don't remember how he was able to use his Devon charm and slightly chaotic way of dealing with things to good effect. But it was all deliberate.
Let's hope the weekend can, for all of us, bring a quiet period of reflection before Monday. I certainly intend to say a prayer or two in Brian's honour. I suspect, so will everyone else — in their own way.
As to the title to today's post, I've not got much to say.
Life often appears flat, hewn of meaning, gravitas or an impetus to change our fortune.
We get into a rut, and before we know it, it's gone — or at least the better part of it.
For me though, being 52 years old, is still a miracle. A miracle I say!
No, that's not a joke.
Having, aged 43, had a brush with death, all I then wanted to do was outlive my late uncle Adrian who died, aged 44, from a brain tumour. In hindsight, I've no idea why it prayed on my mind but it did. Day and bloody night. Once I passed through the membrane from 44 to 45, what then? Well, as I've explained a few times this week, I was expressed in a dogged, determined way to wake up. To wake up from the torpor of never knowing who I was at the deepest, most profound level.
I'll be honest, I've often vacillated between feeling alive to everything and wondering if all this spiritual seeking (which thankfully has abated in the last few years) was another huge ego trip. As Chögyam Trungpa would have said, a form of spiritual materialism. Quite possibly. But that's how we're wired. (The Buddhists talk about grasping and aversion and spirituality is no different.) However, once I saw that there was no one directing any of this and I was no different to the universal flow of nature, it all became much, much clearer; namely, as off the woo-woo scale as it sounds, I was already awake (as are you dear reader) — all body, mind and soul.
Isn't that amazing?
To think, despite our inner travails — and by god, they can be depressing and melancholic at times — we're already awake, even though it rarely, if ever, feels like that.
I realise that that's a very bold claim to make but that's how I see it.
What does that mean?
Well, for a start, I'm most certainly not holding myself out as an enlightened being — no, that's positively chortle-worthy 🤣🤣 — but instead, I'm simply reporting in on what it means to accept two universal truths (or more accurately to be them):
1. everything changes; and
2. there's no one or no-thing making any of this happen.
That's doesn't mean to say I don't, sometimes, get caught up in some strange and/or wonky thinking but I know it will pass — see point 1 above. And no, for the avoidance of doubt, I don't think this the least bit fatalistic. Far from it.
It feels liberating — liberating beyond measure.
How strange is that?
To think, a very small but profound insight about the real nature of the human form has had such a profound change on the apparent me.
Have I lost the plot?
Quite possibly, but then again, I don't think so. In fact, all I'm doing, having spent years and years investigating the nature of the human condition, is to acknowledge that I'm no more and no less a part of the universal flow of nature. As Thomas Merton said and which I shared yesterday:
A tree gives glory to God by being a tree.
If only we did that too. To give glory to ourselves for being, as hard as it is to accept, a perfect expression of who we are — even if, at times, we argue against what is, ourselves and everybody/everything else.
I'm not saying that being flawed is unavoidable, but no two people are alike and we shouldn't constantly, as appears often the case, try to emulate the personality or unique expression of another person. Instead, we need to let go and be all of us — however hard that is to accept.
Sorry, that was longer than I intended, and I'm not sure it's easy to digest.
All I'm really trying to say, and without wanting to sound too preachy, is that the unexamined life, at least for me, was and has been a journey of inner discovery — e.g. "Who am I?" — and if only we'd look there instead of trying to correct every outer circumstance, perhaps the world might appear a very different place.
Anyhow, dear reader, it's that time again.
Let's get the Summerhayes and Alfie show on the road.
Blessings and much love ❤️, Ju.
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