There is little pile of poo sat on the paving slabs right outside the front door of my sister’s apartment building. It has been there for five days, and has long since dried up. It bears an imprint of the sole of some poor sod’s shoe. Every day I note its presence and carefully step around it, as I’m sure the other residents of the building must be doing (except for the unfortunate soul who stepped right in it). I’m guessing it’s fox poo. I really hope it’s not dog poo. If it’s dog poo, Brexit or no Brexit, I fear for British society.
Why am I going to such lengths to describe animal faeces? Well, I looked at the little shit this morning as I carefully avoided it for the umpteenth time, and had a disturbing thought that I could probably use it as an analogy to open this post with. Eh? Let me go on. I figure that turd on the ground could represent all the crappy things in life which we know are there, but rather than deal with we choose to step around and hope that the filth with go away eventually, without our intervention.
For the past two days I have woken up feeling fairly refreshed and clear-headed, which is quite a relief, for that is not something I have been able to say for a long, long time. Just four days ago I was in a complete state of physical, and thus also mental disarray. If you read my last post (link here) you’ll know it wasn’t exactly happy reading. Having said that, I’m quite proud of it, I reckon it was some of the most articulate written material I’ve produced, and a number of people have commented similar. Reading it back this morning, however, I appreciate it’s basically self-indulgent ‘pain porn’. I was in a dark place and it shines through in the words, as well as darkness can shine… A friend of mine told me that reading it made her both happy and sad, which felt like a compliment. Today’s post is more upbeat, for I am feeling positively good, about everything.
Sharing my inner thoughts like this, it should probably feel strange, except it doesn’t any more – I now experience something approaching comfort when describing and sharing my stories and emotions with anyone who chooses to read. In a world of stiff upper lips, bottling it up, saving face, and creating curated, desirable images of our lives on social media, I’ve found myself gradually seeking to do the opposite. Anyone who follows me on Instagram will note that I’ve thrown away any sense of portraying myself in a curated manner. Weirdly, it feels damn good, even when it feels bad. I get that some people might find this ‘openness’ uncomfortable, or undesirable even. I’m sure many will think it’s self-indulgent twaddle and have stopped reading a long time ago, and that’s fine. Were my father to read my blog, I’m fairly sure he would be cringing all the way through. His response would probably be something along the lines of
“Pull yourself together, son, and get back to work, you lazy so and so”
I love my Dad, he is a lovely, albeit stubborn man. He ex-police, and for thirty-plus years he excelled at catching bad guys and keeping the streets safe. However, his career undoubtedly took a huge toll on him, and that is where he invariably sunk his focus and emotional energy as our family fell apart in the mid-90s. It is my belief that since he left the police he has become a calmer, funnier and inherently more likeable chap. Admittedly he would still rather watch a Formula One practice session than have a real conversation with his son about “any of this nonsense”. The fact of the matter, however, is that as I allow myself to be more expressive on the page, I’m increasingly opening myself up in person, and as I open myself up in person, I appear to be slowly, but surely, uncovering an inner peace and contentment that wasn’t there before, which can only be a good thing, for everyone. The funny thing is, that if I look back to five years ago, I didn’t know what I was missing. I just knew something wasn’t right, so I ran away to Australia.
I published ‘The Fiery, Humbling Power of Zeus’ on Sunday morning, having suffered an unexpected and entirely unwelcome relapse of an illness I’ve been battling. My body was in meltdown, my immune system was raging like an out-of-control Aussie bushfire, and my mind appeared to be swiftly following suit. Fortunately, I now know what triggers these episodes, and I have the knowledge of what to do to turn it around. When mould strikes I have to get myself into a clean environment, I have to take a bunch of supplements such as clay and charcoal to pull it out of my body, and I have to sweat a lot. Saunas, salt baths, movement, rest and sunshine are the required prescription.
On Sunday morning I wrote that previous piece in a burst of inspiration, driven by my frustration and desire to cathartically explode it onto the page. Sunday afternoon, however, was rather different. Two mates and I trekked across London to a park in the city’s East End for a electronic dance festival. To be honest with you, dear reader, I was physically in no fit state. My legs wobbled unsteadily beneath me, my head hurt and my heart flip-flopped between fast and slow. Mentally, it was a different story, I was determined to let none of this deter me, and actually felt surprisingly upbeat and ready for some fun with my friends.
Seven thousand experienced ravers descended upon ‘Three Mile Island’ for the Anjunadeep Outdoor event. I say “experienced” because from what I could tell almost everyone was over the age of 25, and plenty were (incredibly) even older than me, proper old. It was a fantastic crowd; full of smiles, absolutely zero attitude, some outlandish clobber, and banging tunes full of bass. After several hours of willing my body to play ball, dragging it along for the ride despite its protestations, I finally won out and the shakiness in my legs and numbness in my toes subsided. I spent the final few hours of the gig in blissful, ecstatic peace, my mind silenced as my body, free of its shackles, let loose.
I’ve known this for some time. That I can out-think my body. Especially since I completed the barefoot walk across scorching hot coals (link here), it’s become very apparent to me that the mind can literally triumph over matter, and whilst I cannot out-think toxic mould if it sits heavy in the air I breathe, I do know that the human body is capable of incredible feats when the mindset is right. My first dabble in ecstatic dance (link here) also opened my eyes to what was possible when, conversely, the body ‘out-bodies’ the mind. When the mind is silenced and I step fully, completely and vulnerably into my body, that is when the true magic occurs. The pairing of MDMA and dance music is so popular because it allows people to enter this state without effort or thought. However, such states can be entered without mind-altering drugs, I’ve seen it, but it takes work, and guidance.
Originally I started attending yoga classes to ease troubling back pain. Eight or so years later and yoga is still an important part of my life, but no longer do I primarily employ it as a tactic to deal with aches and pains (although I’m sure it helps with that too). Instead I find the most alluring result of the practice is the stillness of mind it can bring me, and the unique sensation of my body flowing through the asanas (positions) in time with the inhalation and exhalation of the breath. For me there is not really anything like it, except perhaps, dancing to trance music.
For a long time now, as my body has struggled with illness, and my mind has fought in vain to find an equilibrium, yoga has provided brief, merciful respite. However, I have been unable to access that ‘flow state’ frequently enough. My life, as a result, has been harder than perhaps it need be; my sleep broken, my thoughts scattered, my smiles curtailed. As I sit here today, my body appears to be coming back online. As I stepped out of the apartment this morning, and breezily avoided the darkening patch of poo, I felt a lightness in my step, and my spirit. I walked up the hill singing and humming, smiling broadly at anyone who had the misfortune of crossing my path. For too long my being has been in turmoil. For too long I’ve been avoiding that steaming pile of shit outside my front door.
I ended the last piece with the somewhat sombre “May my suffering be your light”. Today I say FUCK THAT. No, today I finish with a quote from Carl Jung that I adore:
“That which you most want will be found where you least want to look”
Sometimes you have to enter and embrace the darkness in order to find the light.