Sunday, 31 March 2013

Hidden Strength, Incredible Courage

Today, I was fortunate enough to spend an afternoon in the company of one of the bravest people I have ever had the pleasure to meet.  Oliver came snorkeling this afternoon, along with his family, and I could not help noticing the large lump that protruded from his chest, one the left side, around the same area of his heart.  At first I assumed it was a birth mark or some form of abnormal growth, like an abscess. A little later I caught part of a conversation that alluded to something far worse, far more sinister.  It turned out that Oliver was half way through his three year treatment for leukemia.  Oliver is eight years old.

Oliver and his family were in Costa Rica through the Make A Wish Foundation.  Oliver is crazy passionate about birds and it was Oliver's dream to come to Costa Rica, so that he could see the bird life here.  From watching Oliver, there was not a trace of any indication that he was ill or that he was going through the trauma of chemotherapy treatments.  He was an extremely pleasant, lively and engaging boy.  He avidly watched as we passed by a colony of pelicans and frigates, and later, he informed us all that two birds standing on some rocks were cormorants.

Although Oliver had never snorkelled before and did not really know how to swim, he nonetheless jumped into the water wearing his little orange life preserver, and with some assistance from myself, we managed a spot of snorkelling, until he became cold and started to shiver, and so we headed back to the boat.  On the boat, I got him laughing and giggling as he and I performed the cookie dance, which, for those of you not familiar with local customs here in Costa Rica, is an absolute necessity before you are allowed a packet of cookies from our cooler on the boat.

The lump on Oliver's chest was the valve through which they administer the chemotherapy drugs.  His mother referred to it as his 'volcano'.  I could not help but think of what it must be like for little Oliver to have pipes going into his body, pouring in a toxic mix of chemicals, in the hope of destroying the cancerous cells.  How hard must it be also, for a parent to look on, helpless, as their child lies there in the hospital, suffering and fighting?  What strength and courage does it take to do that?  I cannot imagine it.

This afternoon's experience set me to thinking about inner strength.  Often, it is those people who never complain, who simply get on with life, those who never say a word and just shrug and carry on, that are the strongest.  We do not notice those people because they make no fuss, they make no commotion, they do not complain about their lot, they just quietly go about dealing with their problems.  Very often too, these are the same people who take on the problems of others, those people who will always listen, always stay calm and offer advice.  Even when their own world may be in tatters, when their own problems seem insurmountable, they will always make time to listen and help other people, they will put aside their problems and give you their help and support.  These are the 'go to' people.  I am sure you know someone who fits this description.  If you can think of someone like that in your life, drop them a message and tell them two very simple words, tell them, thank you.

Oliver.  He was so small, so innocent in this world and yet, what he has to deal with is enormous.  It is a heavy burden to carry and at the end of the treatment, there is still the chance that it could all be in vain.  There are no guarantees for Oliver, only percentages and statistics.  Oliver, I salute you.  You are one of the bravest people I have had the pleasure to meet.  Thank you for coming into my life and brightening up my afternoon, and for enriching my soul. 

If you are interested in getting involved or making a donation, please check out the Make A Wish Foundation at:

People like Oliver deserve to have their dreams come true.

Water And Life

I stood and I desperately tried to hold back the water. I knew that if I could only stop it, then I could hold on to everything that I possessed, that I would be able to stand still in this spot, rooted like a tree in the forest. But the water kept on coming. It begin to seep through the defences I had made, and although I patched up one crack after another, there was no preventing it.  Eventually, and in a one single moment, everything gave way and I was swept away downstream in the current.  I rued my ill luck as I drifted along, too tired to swim against the flow.

After some time, I found myself on a shore that I did not recognise. I looked about me and for a time, I was utterly lost, feeling confused as to my whereabouts.  I sat and I wept, feeling grief for all that was lost, but mostly for myself.  After the tears, I stood and looked about me.  I noticed the flowers in bloom, I saw the lush green boughs of the trees in the wood, and I felt the soft grass beneath my feet, I heard the humming of bees and insects, and I listened to the songs of birds.  I walked around a little and found things in this new place that were the same as where I had been, that gave me some degree comfort and a familiar feeling.  For all of the old, there was the new, the exotic, the different.  Life would never be the same, that I knew, but I also knew that just like the waters that I was unable to hold back, life goes ever on, and so must I.

You cannot hold back the flow of life, and you must never try.  Rather, it is better to go with the flow, to bend in the wind like the reed and to let yourself find pastures new.  Water flows ever onwards, that is its destiny.  Like the water, you too have a destiny, you have a dream to be fulfilled.  When life comes calling, lift up a foot and take a step.  Things will change, their is no denying it, but it is through the new things we find in life, that we discover our selves.  Let yourself become caught in the flow, and see just how far life can take you. 

Monday, 25 March 2013

Echoes Through Eternity

In life, it is the grand gestures, the remarkable experiences, the amazing sights and sounds, and the deepest sensations, that strike us the most and are the moments that burn themselves into our minds, to become memories to be lived again, and stories to be shared.  At these times, we know that perhaps something significant occurred: the realisation or the awakening of a dream, that a shift in the direction of the path took place, a heart opened to possibility and joy of new love, or was crushed and receded in pain at the loss of an old love.  It is to these moments that we pay closest attention, looking for significance in them, seeking out their meaning and in so doing, we forget that life does not only consist of these grand moments, life, and the path on which we all walk, is made of an endless myriad of moments that are so small and seemingly ordinary, that we attach no significance to their existence.  Perhaps we do so to our detriment and peril.

Think of a drop of water.  One single drop is powerless, insignificant, it can do nothing.  Imagine the rain beginning to fall on to the side of a mountain and that first single drop that falls.  As the rain begins, other single drops hit the ground and in the beginning, nothing happens.  As other drops fall, they begin to join with the ones that fell before them and soon, a trickle of water begins. The drops keep falling, adding to the trickle that becomes a stream and the stream runs down the mountainside.  The stream begins to act on small stones and rocks, pulling them along in its water, and imperceptibly, the mountain is changed.  The rain continues and more drops fall. The stream meets another and they combine their strength, together they charge down the mountain, and at its head, our first drop of rain leads the charge. Now, larger rocks are caught in the torrent and they tumble down the mountainside.  Water flows on rock, rock hits rock, changes are made.  This torrent eventually finds a river and the river seeks out its true destiny and joins with the ocean.  One day, a huge wind blows and pushes the water in its wake, generating huge swells that become storm breakers, that crash against the shore, that smash against the land, and that alter the landscape forever.  And as the largest wave gallops in, its white waters foaming and broiling before it, that first little drop of rain that fell from the sky onto the mountainside, rides at its head and leads the charge.       

Life is like this.  Every moment of our lives has the power to echo through eternity and to alter the course of the future.  These echoes affect not only our own future, but also the futures of others, those that already exist and those that are yet to come.  I began to think on this, after a friend of mine performed an incredibly selfless and genuine act of kindness to another person.  In that moment, I could see how the lives of both people had changed significantly.  Through this deed, the courage to continue along the true path might have been gained for one of them, perhaps even, this was an act that saved a life.  The truth is, we will never know.  But what this act was, was an amazing act of kindness from one who is seeking their true path, to another who was already walking their true path, and walking that path in the face of great adversity.  The spirit in one, recognised the spirit in the other, and life brought them together.  This act is going to echo through eternity.  My friend altered the course of history, my friend changed the world with her kindness.  More than this, by acting in this way, my friend also reaffirmed her own path.  She acted because her heart told her so.  The courage of one, was met with the courage of the other, who walked across a crowded room, and in so doing, changed the course of the future.

A small, seemingly insignificant event, one tiny drop in the ocean.  And one day, that single drop will ride at the front of the charge, and the pages of history will recall its name.      


Friday, 22 March 2013

True Love Knows No Impediment

Today, I beheld a very clear vision and I felt the truth of all that my heart spoke to me.  Life taught me a lesson that I needed to learn and life willed me to finally see the plain and simple truth before my eyes.  For a brief moment in time, as I sat on the beach surrounded by the beauty of nature, the universe spoke to me through my heart, and it talked to me of love.

This afternoon after work, I cycled down to the beach to swim and bathe in the ocean, to sit on the sand, relax, and to read my book.  As I always do, I began to people watch, as it's a favourite pastime of mine, and I have discovered that within the actions and facial expressions of others, you can learn much about life and you are able to see your own reflection.  I looked on as a couple walking together along the beach approached and one of the photographers from the resort began to snap pictures of them.  The photographer asked them to strike various poses and to take up different positions, such as standing next to each other, laying side-by-side on the sand, kneeling in front of each other and other such stances.  I looked on and as I did, I could see that this couple were in love, there could be no denying it, it was plain to see.

Every look and every gesture that they gave each other spoke of the love that they held for each other.  It was completely obvious to any observer, it could not be failed to be seen.  Here were two people, completely at ease with each other, enjoying the company of each other, having fun together, revelling in the attention, and tied together through the bond of mutual love.  I've seen couples like this before, so why did this particular couple strike me so significantly?  These two people were separated not only by gender, but by race and by age also.

Love had found a way to flourish despite, what may have been to many others, obstacles or barriers to love.  Here, on the beach, it was easy to see how love had triumphed and had overcome any adversity that may have hindered its growth.  It was in watching these two people that I was struck so plainly by the simple truth of what I was seeing: true love can know no impediment.  If the feelings of love are genuine between two people, then there is nothing that can stop it, there is nothing that can break it, there is nothing that can defeat it.  Love is an all conquering emotion.  Love is the greatest sensation that humans can feel.  Love is the supreme state.  When it is true, nothing in this universe can destroy it.  Love transcends time and love transcends space, as it stretches out across the universe undimmed.

Before today, I have always believed in the power of love, what I saw today showed me something else.  It demonstrated to me that when love knocks on your door, there is nothing that can stand in its way.  I thought I already knew that, but today, I saw it to be the truth and I knew it from the depths of my soul.  As I type this, I have just had another thought, one that is frightening.  If true love knows no impediment, then is it possible that I have never truly been in love?  Is it possible that the love that I felt before was not true love, but a poor imitation?  Perhaps not.  I believe that my past loves were indeed love from my side, but perhaps the love from the other person was not as true as it should have been.

Today I was taught another lesson of life, another lesson on love.  I hope one day to be able to share those lessons with the soul of another, who will walk my path at my side.  Until that day, I will go on learning so that when the time comes, I am ready and I will not spurn nor waste my opportunity.  The chances of love are like the seeds blowing in the wind.  I am going to reach out my hand and see if I cannot grab one, for I only need one chance to find my true home, my true love.

Thursday, 21 March 2013

Just As The Rolling Stones Said

Yesterday, I held a friend's four week old baby on my lap and, as I looked down on this miracle of life, I was taken back in time, to one summer many years ago, and I wondered how my life might have been so completely different.  I asked myself if I will ever have a child of my own to hold and to bestow upon them the love and the wisdom that I have to give.  And I asked myself whether I will ever get to fulfill my destiny as a man, and to become a father, or did I miss my chance?

I have learned that life takes us where we need to go and that the journey is not always in the direction that we may wish.  One summer, many years ago, life decided that my path would go a different way from the one that I was expecting it to take.  Back then, I was very much in love, thought I had found my soul mate, I was enjoying a career that was rocketing forward faster than I could believe, my brother was going to be married, and I, unbeknown to my family, was going to be a father.  It was an incredibly exciting time.  Then fate twisted the knife and the picture that I held in my mind of the happily ever after, family man was destroyed beyond all recovery.  Everything was lost to me in just a few words of a conversation, in just a few seconds of time.  As the words fell, so too did the pieces of my life, fragments falling to the floor and shattering, like the most fragile pieces of fine porcelain.

I don't think about this moment too often, but now that I do, I see it with a new perspective.  There was my chance of fatherhood being taken away from me and at the time, so too was the way in which I saw my future.  In the darkness that followed, and days of falling through the abyss of deep, dark, despair and depression, I could see no way ahead.  I felt only loss, the loss of my soul mate from my life and the loss of my chance for fatherhood.  One moment I had stood, basking in the rays of warm light, in love and going to become a father, the next, I stood in the darkness, utterly alone with my loss.  The days that followed, the weeks and the months, were difficult.  I was lucky to have a very good friend who helped me through it, who dragged me out and would not let me stay in my stupor and malaise.  He laughed as I hit golf balls one evening at the driving range and said that each one must have had the face of my ex.  I laughed along, not able to tell him that he was wrong, that I was still in love and that I felt no anger, just sorrow at my loss.  I recovered, just as everyone always does, but it took me a long time.

Now that I think about that evening, when my world shifted completely, I know that everything that has occurred in my life since, would never have come to fruition.  On one hand, I lost my chance of fatherhood and family life, but on the other, I have everything else.  I am not bitter about what happened.  In fact, I am thankful because it has allowed me to accomplish everything that I have, and to experience so many wonderful things in my life.  It allowed me to discover my true path in life, the path that has true meaning for me.

I will never know where the other path would have led me.  I never think back and wonder about it.  There is no point and I consider that as wasted time and energy.  My feelings tell me that things would not have worked out, they could not have worked out.  I have this deep feeling that at the time I was still not ready.  Perhaps I would have been able to adapt and evolve myself, I will never know and so there is little point in thinking on it.  My path took a new direction, life had another purpose for me, and life took me to a place I could never have dreamed.  From that point in my life, which was probably one of my lowest, everything changed and life has given me so many wonderful gifts and opportunities.  It tells me that we should never give up, even when all hope seems to be lost and gone, because it never is.

I my still be childless, I may still not be a father, but I do know that my time will come.  Yesterday, as I held that tiny bundle of life, I knew beyond doubt that I want that for myself.  I would like to be a father, I would like to be a husband.  Sometimes in life, we can't always get what we want, but if we try, we often get what we need.

Sunday, 17 March 2013

How You Know When Your Broken Heart Is Mended

The ending of any relationship hits you hard.  When you are still in love with your partner and wish the relationship to continue, then it becomes harder still.  Who am I kidding?  Let's face it, when your partner tells you that things are over, that they do not love you any more, that what they want from life is different to those things that you want, that is completely and utterly soul destroying.  It's a gut wrenching, heart shattering moment, and that moment can last for an exceedingly long time.  That moment feels like it will last for an eternity.

When your partner tells you it is over, it is not just that you lose that person from your life, there is also the loss of love that you must face.  Other unwanted feelings and sensations will come your way as well.  You feel a sense of rejection, you feel that you are not worthy of love, you feel yourself as being not good enough for love, and you will feel that you are worthless.  None of these are of course remotely true.  But it doesn't matter how many times you are told that, or by how many people, you will believe it until the pain begins to subside.

When my last relationship went wrong, it was my then girlfriend who broke it off.  It was her decision to say enough is enough.  I had loved her deeply, I had spent much of my time devoted to her, doing all that I could to help and assist her with various projects and the problems that she encountered during our time together.  When it came to the end, my heart was still very much attached to her.  Physically, we were no longer together, so that helped immensely with our separation, but mentally, that was a whole different ball game.

It's not just the mental attachments we make though is it?  It is the attachments that we make with our hearts.  It is the love that is the hardest to let go of, that takes the longest to heal.  From the moment that the relationship breaks up, the healing process begins.  It does not feel like any healing is taking place for some weeks, or even months, but subtle changes are being made within you, within the subconscious you.  One day, you wake up and you know that your heart is mended, that the pain and heartache you have been living is gone.  It is over.  It can take many months, or even sometimes years for that the healing process to be complete, so much depends on the intensity and the longevity of the relationship and the love.

For me, my heart means everything and that means that it suffers greatly at the hands of love.  When I fall in love, I fall very deeply and I love with great passion and intensity.  I cannot do anything else because to do so, would be to betray my heart.  There is no half love.  Love is an all encompassing feeling that you either feel, or you do not.  You cannot think you are in love.  If you think you are in love, then you are not.  Love is a balls to bone emotion of the greatest intensity there is.  When my relationship broke up last November, it hurt.  I had to deal with the feelings of rejection and the pain of being pushed away from the person that I loved.  I wondered how long it would take me to get over this love.  How long would it take for my heart to be fully healed?  Today, I think I found the answer to that question.

On the boat this morning was a girl called Vanessa.  At first, she was just another customer, another soul who was coming diving.  As I gave the dive briefing to her and the other two divers in the group, I suddenly saw Vanessa for the first time.  She was looking up at me as I spoke and as I looked down at her, my eyes saw into hers and I became lost for a moment.  I don't think that I paused or hesitated in my dive briefing, but I knew that something significant had happened.  And my heart knew it too.  During the morning, I was my usual self with all of the customers but I knew I was attracted to Vanessa, in a way I had not felt for a long time about someone else.  Nothing happened between us and the story ends there, but for me, it marked a significant event.

I could not have felt that attraction to Vanessa unless my heart was clear of my ex-girlfriend.  That is the way in which my heart works.  I cannot betray my heart and so I can never betray anyone, if I have feelings towards them.  This moment on the boat with Vanessa told me that finally, my heart has healed itself and that perhaps, I am now ready to move on and that, if another opportunity for love comes my way, I know that I will be ready to embrace it.

So, how do you know that your broken heart is mended?  You know it, when you look into the eyes of someone and you find yourself falling into them, and you realise that you could become lost in those eyes unless you pull your gaze away.  And, at the same time, you feel a jolt of electricity in your heart.  That jolt is the thunderbolt of love.  These are the signs that let you know that you are ready.  And because of this, today, I finally know that my heart is ready to love again.  Today, I feel ready to walk the path of love once more.  Now I ask, who will be my companion and when will she arrive? 

Saturday, 16 March 2013

Blond Hair And Board Shorts

A man with shaggy, blond, unkempt, sun bleached hair, who is wearing nothing other than a pair of board shorts, is walking barefoot along the sand of a tropical, palm tree lined beach.  He walks close to the waters edge, so that each time a wave breaks and pushes up the beach, the water covers his feet before once more receding.  Running around the man, bounding into the water, running back to the sand, barking with fun, is an equally scruffy looking dog.  On the faces of both, to be seen clearly by any casual observer, is written joy and contentment with life.

It is a summer's day in England. An adolescent boy sits on the pebbles of the beach and watches the waves lapping at the shore.  The boy has just been swimming and beads of water run from his hair, over his shoulders and down his back, but he does not care.  The sun is warming and he knows that he will soon be dry.  He stares out across the calm and flat ocean, that is constantly changing shape, undulating with small movements, as each swell attempts to break the calmness but lack the power to do so, dying on the pebbles of the beach as if collapsing, exhausted, over the finish line.  The boy's mind begins to drift, to wander and he imagines where his life will lead him and what it is that life has in store for him.

The winds of the dry season blow, lifting sand from the beach, stirring up the dust of the roads, across the land comes the wind, dropping these tiny particles of the rocks and earth across a parched countryside, that is now into its fifth month without the rains.  Barren is the ground, brown is the grass, and withered and lifeless are the trees that the wind passes over.  The wind brings no cooling relief from the heat of the sun, the air it brings is stifling and serves only to increase the temperature, like a breeze that fans the smouldering embers of a fire.  On the beach, barefooted, blond haired and wearing only a pair of board shorts, approaches a lone figure.  At times he gazes out across the ocean, he stares up at the clouds, sometimes marvelling at the exquisite formations, sometimes he sees in a cloud the shape of an animal, and he watches mesmerised as a pod of pelicans launch themselves from the surface of the water, and take to the air in flight.  The man might walk alone but he is not lonely.  He smiles and laughs to himself often and people look at him and think that perhaps he has been touched by the hand of madness.  And they would be right.  This man has been touched by the madness that comes of having pursued a childish dream and of turning that dream into a waking reality.  This man walks in the knowledge that life rewards those that seek out the truth for themselves and discover their one true path.  It was insanity that drove him onwards and allowed him to find the light that was within.

I had a dream once and I dismissed it.  At the beach in England, during the summer months, my heart was always so full of joy, content and happy.  I could not think of anything else that would make me more fulfilled than to live by a tropical beach.  I dismissed this dream because I thought it was stupid, I believed it was unachievable, but more than this, I thought that it was not what I was supposed to do with my life.  For me, life was all about finding a job, earning enough money to support myself, leaving home, raising my own family.  I managed the first three of those, the last eludes me still.  Those were the things expected of me.  Everything else I was told, was foolhardy and stupid.  When I had the vision of the beach, I would say to myself it was impossible.  I would ask myself what would I do there?  How would I live?  How would I support myself?  I have a logical brain and because of this, I could see no sense in my dream, and so I dismissed it as the foolish thought of youth.   

However, what I had not counted on, was that this dream was so deeply rooted in the core of my being, that my heart never let it go.  From my teenage years onwards, everything that I have ever done, was completed with the ultimate goal of achieving my dream.  I was not consciously aware of this.  Some other power drove me in that direction and I subconsciously made the decisions that led me there.  Some how, I ended up where I always wanted to be.  The journey was not straightforward.  In fact, I could not have taken a more convoluted and twisted road if I had tried.  And it is this fact that brings me great joy and hope in my life.

I did not set out for my life to be the way it is.  So much happened by chance and opportunity.  Everyone has those same chances in their lives.  I am no more unique or blessed than any one else.  What this tells me, is that if you have something inside of you that holds deep meaning for your life, then there is a power that is going to steer you towards it, whether you are conscious of it or not, and no matter the decisions that you take.  That power could be given many names but I like to think of it as simply, love.  If you believe in love, then you can achieve anything.  If you believe in love, then you can accomplish your dreams.  Love is the force that drives life.  And it is life that brings love.  The eternal cycle will always go on until the ending of the universe.

You have the power to accomplish your dreams.  All that you need can be found within.  Search your heart,  listen to its voice and act on what it tells you.  Create the life that you want, not the life that you think you should have.  Those who dream are not fools, but those who dream and do not act are the foolish.

Dream.  Dare.  Walk.  Love.  Light.

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Why Tomorrow Just Might Be Too Late

This afternoon I spent approximately thirty five minutes of my life, just hanging on a buoy line with one of my Discover Scuba Diving participants.  Terry had open heart surgery three years ago and is the proud owner of a huge scar that runs down the middle of his chest.  He had a quadruple by-pass at the age of forty three.  He almost died.  As a result of this, he was, and quite understandably so, a little apprehensive about the diving in the ocean.   Terry's partner, Barbara, had taken steps to ensure that Terry was given a medical all clear and signed off by his doctor, before they came to Costa Rica.  Barbara, being an experienced diver, was keen for Terry to try out diving and to experience one of her favourite pastimes.

And so, in the afternoon, after a successful session in the hotel swimming pool, I found myself hanging on the buoy line in the afternoon, as Terry attempted to overcome his anxiety.  We floated at the surface, we chatted, I worked hard to keep his mind occupied so that he would relax and not be overly focused on the water and what was going on.  We descended one foot below the surface of the water and Terry stayed there to breath, but no, it did not feel right for him, so we came back up to the surface.  We tried again.  This time we managed three feet and again, Terry needed to come back up.  Up and down the line we went, making just a little bit of progress each time until we hit our maximum of six feet.  How many aborted attempts did we have?  I lost count.  It did not matter.  Eventually, Terry called it off and decided it was enough for him.

Throughout this time, I had a pretty good idea that after the initial two failed attempts, Terry would not make it.  I could not give up on him though because I knew he wanted to make it, I could see how hard he was trying, how much effort it was costing him.  I've known other instructors who would have had the student out of the water and given up on them after a couple of failed attempts, but I'm not like that.  If I have the opportunity and the time (it is not always one on one tuition and therefore not always possible to give so much time and attention) to work with someone to overcome their difficulties and to succeed, well, by crikey I'll take it.  I know how much I would appreciate someone taking the time with me, if I had a problem I needed to overcome, and all I want to do is to give to that person the same treatment that I would wish to receive.  I don't like giving up on people.  It's one of my characteristics.

This guy had been through hell and come out of it alive.  He had seen death come stalking for him, felt the icy chill as death breathed close to him, and he had escaped death's clutches.  This experience had given Terry a new lease on life, it had opened his eyes to what constituted real living.  For all of his life, his eyes had been blinkered and then, at the age of forty three, they were rather unceremoniously opened.  He was forced to question his life values and in doing so, he changed them.  Terry is lucky.  He survived his operation and has been given a new lease of life, a second chance.  Many of us do not get that.

This is why I say that tomorrow just might be too late.  You never know.  The path leads us where it will.  What lies up ahead is always going to be shrouded in an impenetrable darkness.  It is not for us to try to figure out what lies there, those answers will be revealed when the time is right, when we are ready to receive them.  Until then, it is only necessary to make the most of what you have, or where you are and in what you are doing.  If that does not give you pleasure, if those things are not your heart's desire, then it is time to make a change.  Never live a life of regret.  Regret is wasted energy.  Regret is a useless thought. As Yoda said, you must do or do not.  In other words, if you can make amends for your regret then do it, make the change, fix the problem.  But if you cannot alter what is past, then let it go and move on.  Forgive yourself for the error that you made and tell yourself that next time, I will not make the same mistake.  For believe me, the same situation will come again.

If you were to be told that you have one minute of your life remaining, are you going to look back upon your life and wonder what might have been?  Or are you going to say to yourself, well that was amazing?  Do not wait for life to come to you because it will not.  You must seek life and in doing so, you will find your true self, you will experience miracles, you will unearth the truth, you will unlock the light, and you will discover love.  You will walk your one true path and that is the path of light and love.  That is the path of truth.

Carpe diem.


Monday, 11 March 2013

Whales, Morays And The Rewards Of The Path

There will come many days on the path when the rewards of your endeavours leave you breathless.  These are the rewards for pushing through the doubt and the fears, these are the rewards for persevering where others have turned away from finding their own truth, these are the days that tell you that what you are doing, that the path on which you walk, is absolutely the right one for you.  Yesterday, was one such day.

I'll be honest, the previous few days I had been feeling a little low.  I had been mulling over my life, pondering the question of why I look for love in all the wrong places and why that part of my life is so unsuccessful.  I would never say I was in a bad place.  I could not say it was a state of despondency or a depression.  No, it was really just a fleeting feeling that came to me one morning and hung around, clouding my thinking, making me focus on this one part of my life with which I have always struggled.  But what is that one part that is a struggled when compared to the rest?

I had been speaking with Terry and his son Ari at the hotel over the last few days and in talking, we moved on, as is inevitable, to scuba diving.  Terry explained how he had not dived for almost thirty years, and, as he was now sixty nine years old, firmly believed that his scuba diving days were long gone.  I offered him the chance to try scuba in the swimming pool and to see how he felt getting back into the water.  To see this man's smile, splitting his heavily bearded face from ear to ear, was reward enough.  Terry decided he would try diving in the ocean again  Ari, had been involved in a serious snowboarding accident some year back that had almost cost him his life.  His head was fitted  titanium plates and screws that were holding it together and his legs the same.  Ari had not dived since the accident but he was now surfing again and enjoying a normal life.  We decided we would all make a dive together, just a shallow, cautious one, to see how things went.

Yesterday was the day of the dive.  Terry is one of those people who is always happy and laughing and full of life.  He is a joy to be around and is in possession of one of those infectious grins.  You just cannot help yourself but laugh around the man.  Despite not having dived for so long, he was no different on our way out to the dive site.  I had thought that perhaps he would become nervous and show some signs of anxiety, but I could detect none.

On our arrival at the dive site, there, waiting for us at the surface were two pairs of humpback whales.  I've seen whales before here but I had never seen them this close in to the dive sites.  One pair were almost right up against the rock, just a few metres away.  It is an incredible feeling to be so close to some of natures largest ever creatures, to see them basking at the surface, arching their backs, spouting huge plumes of water vapour into the air, putting up their flukes and diving.  Everyone on the boat looked on, enjoying this free spectacle of nature, knowing that what they were seeing and witnessing was something very special indeed.  Eventually, the whales moved off and we made our dives.

Despite the tough conditions of poor visibility and current, Terry never lost his grin and the enjoyment on his face after we surfaced was easily evident. It was clear that Terry had rolled back the years and shaken off all the rust.  As I recall the morning, I can recall certain moments when I could hear Terry laughing under the water.  An amazing man and an inspiration, and for me, the reward for a little perseverance and for taking the time to speak and engage with him.

I saw one other thing during the second dive I have never observed previously.  At Dirty Rock (so called because it is a cleaning station for many different species of marine life) a green moray eel was laying with its mouth stretched as wide open as it could possibly go.  It is usual to see a moray with its mouth open, because the eels use the opening and closing of their mouths to pump water through their gills.  But this moray looked more similar to a cobra that had opened its jaws to take its prey whole.  I was able to look straight into this open mouthed eel and I could not figure out why it was not closing its mouth, until I noticed the two small cleaner fish at the back of its throat.  What this open mouth moray afforded me, was a perfect view all the way inside of its mouth and into its throat, showing me the bones that lined the roof of its mouth, reminding me of the flying buttresses of a cathedral.  I knew that this was perhaps a once in a lifetime experience and that I might never have the opportunity to see a moray in such a way as this ever again.

Yesterday, I was once more reminded of the rewards that come from following your true path.  Not all rewards are the same for every person, but in nature, immersed and surrounded by life, that is where I find mine.  Helping a person to overcome a difficulty and to achieve a personal goal has always been something I have enjoyed.  I see it as an act of kindness and of love.  It is giving something back to the universe.  That is my own nature, I will always do that on instinct, I cannot help but do it.  Sometimes we may question the path and ask what is the purpose, or why does such a thing happen or not happen?  The answer to those questions is simple: everything happens when the time is right and when you are right.  Sometimes, the time is the right time, but there remains a lesson that you need to learn.  Other times, you are ready, but the time is not right.  When it comes together, those are the moments of miracles, when life rewards you for your efforts.  I still have a challenge in my life.  That challenge is to find the special someone who will be my companion on the path.  Perhaps the time is still not right.  Perhaps I am still not ready.  But I do know, that in the meantime, I am being rewarded richly for walking my true path, and for that, I will always be grateful to the universe, to the force that governs all life: nature.  Everything is love and if you know how to look, you will always find it.  And you will see it not with your eyes, but through your heart.

Saturday, 9 March 2013

Love In All The Wrong Places

Why do I feel the need to look for love in all of the wrong places?  I ask myself what is driving me to seek out something that cannot work, that has no chance of success, even from the outset?  Why do I conceive an idea or a plan that is going to bring me nothing but pain, anguish and sorrow?  There is one answer to all of these questions.

The answer is that I feel the constant need to punish myself.  To prove to myself over and over that I am unworthy of love, that I am undeserving of love.  I have to create this self-fulfilling prophecy, a story whose ending I have scripted before even the female lead actor takes to the stage.  The face is of no consequence, the final act is always going to end in the same way.

If you watch the same show over and over, then eventually you will become bored.  Why have I not become bored of my own story?  Why do I persist in re-enacting the same script again and again, transporting the story into different locations, different times, different actors, but always with the same outcomes?

I am a fool.  What else can I say about myself?  Knowingly, and with open eyes, and a brain that comprehends the logic (the illogic?) of what I am doing, I still go forward, I still knock on the door in full knowledge that what lies beyond can only be an empty room, and when I find the answer that I have sought, and that I knew would come, I feel surprised, let down, and hurt.  But wait!  Then comes the glory and my reward.  A moment of disappointment and sadness, and then something else.  A wry smile, an ironic laugh, and I ask myself, "Why does this always happen to me?", and I question the motives of God and what His purpose for me could possibly be, and for which motive does He always deny me love?  What cruel game is He playing? 

Of course, I know He is not playing any games with me.  I know that He does not do this to me.  I am the architect of my own failures.   Everything that goes wrong, is caused by my own actions and my own choices.  So why do I persist in doing this to myself?

The answer to that, I am sure, lies somewhere back in my childhood.  At some pivotal moment, I formed an opinion about myself, namely, that I am undeserving of being loved and that I will never find happiness through love.  Ever since that moment, I have spent my entire life reinforcing this to myself.  Living out my self-fulfilling prophecies time and again: that I am unworthy, that no one will ever love me, and that ultimately, I am destined to live a life alone and devoid of love.  So far, this has been for the most part true.

Armed with this knowledge of how my brain works, I have a glimmer of a hope and perhaps a chance to do something about it.  I understand what I do, and I must fight hard against the urges when they come.  I must have patience and learn to wait.  I must recognise the situation and know that this person, these circumstances are not right.  I need to keep telling myself that I am worthy and I need to accept that as fact.

I know the true answer lies out there somewhere.  I know that one day, I will find the very thing that I have struggled with the most in my life.  It must come, mustn't it?  My life cannot be this amazing and this blessed, if I am never to reach and to take hold of that one missing thing: love.

My search goes on.  I will walk my path and trust that the day, the moment will arrive.  When it does, everything will have been worth the wait, for she will be standing there, she will look upon me and she will smile.  And in that very moment, I will know that I have arrived.  I will have found my home.

Monday, 4 March 2013

Claudia And Elby

Claudia the caterpillar was feeling rather sad.  Earlier that day, she had been excited and happy and bursting to tell her friend Elby, who was a ladybird, her wonderful news.  For the past few weeks, a feeling had been growing inside of Claudia.  At first, it was barely perceptible, but it had been there, at the end of each day, whenever the quietness fell over the woodland.  She did not know what it was, or where it came from, but she felt it nonetheless.  It seemed to Claudia that the moment she became conscious of this feeling, it began to grow.  Or was it just because she thought about it more and more that slowly, and with the passing of each day, it grew a little larger For thoughts cannot grow on their own.  It is our own minds that water the seed that has been sown, and allow them to take root and grow their shoots. Soon, the thought had begun to come to her more and more often, until almost her every waking moment was filled with it.  It felt like a fire had burst into life inside of her soul, a fire that raged and wanted to be set free.  She realised that the feelings that she had were coming from a place deep within her, they were coming from her heart, as if her heart was willing her to be something more than she was.  Claudia could not hold these feelings to herself any longer and had decided it was time to tell her best friend all about it.  But everything had gone wrong the moment that she opened her mouth, and had begun to tell Elby, that she was ready for a change in her life.

"You know Elby, I feel that there is more to my life than just munching on leaves all day", she had begun.  "I feel that it might be time to try something different.  Something new."

"Whatever do you mean Claudia?  What is wrong with what we do now?"  Elby looked appalled at the thought.

"I don't mean there's anything wrong with it Elby.  It's just... it's just that perhaps there's something more to life.  I don't know.  I feel like I would like a change."

"But I like you the way you are!  I don't want you to change Claudia.  And I like things the way they are too.  We don't need to change.  We have everything that we need right here, just as we are."

"Oh... I see." Claudia had been hoping that her friend would share in her excitement and might get involved in helping her make plans.  "But I really feel it in my heart that I could do so much more, that I could be so much more."

"That's dangerous talk Claudia.  You've got to be careful about that kind of thing.  Change brings chaos and upset.  It's much better to stay safe and secure just as you  are.  And besides, if you change, then we might now have so many things in common any longer."

"But you would still be my friend if I changed wouldn't you Elby?"  Claudia was now concerned that this feeling inside of her might cost her the best friend that she had in the entire world.

"I guess I would", replied Elby, "But I suppose that really would all depend on how much you changed."

Claudia let the conversation drop there and had quickly changed the subject.  For the rest of the day, she had felt sad and now she no longer knew what she should do.  That night, Claudia thought more about the conversation with Elby.  Maybe she was just being silly and Elby was right about everything.  Things were certainly good as they were and it was not as if Claudia was unhappy with her life.  Yes, it was probably better to forget the whole thing, she thought.  And that is exactly what she did for the next five days. 
During those five days, Claudia went about her normal daily activities, she chatted with Elby and her other friends, and not once did she mention the feeling that was inside of her.  Elby didn't ask her about it either, because Elby did not want to risk reminding of Claudia of it.  However, as with all yearnings of the heart, it is impossible to silence them, since after you have heard their call, the memory of them will live with you, until either you venture forth and follow them, or you accept them and continue to live a life of regret and wonder about what may have been.  Claudia still felt the urgings of her heart.  In fact, she felt them stronger than ever and now she was feeling conflicted.  If I change, I will lose my friends, she thought.  This made her anxious and worried because she did not wish to upset her friends and she certainly did not wish to lose them"I don't want to change!  I don't want to lose my friends!" she yelled out to the woodland.  Then an idea struck her.  Perhaps if she went away and hid herself for a few days, these feelings would pass.  Yes, to be alone for a while and to work out these feelings was the best thing she could do.  And when she came back, she would still be the same old Claudia and she would still have all of her friends.

So Claudia crawled away to the edge of the woodland so that she could be alone and work through her thoughts.  Once she was there, she realised that she needed a place to hide, so that she would not be disturbed or seen by anyone.  Unfortunately, all of the suitable places that she found were already occupied.  She was just about to give up on finding a place where she could find the solace that she sought, when she a sudden thought came to her.  I can spin my own home!  Soon, Claudia was smug and warm inside of her own cocoon, where she settled down to think about her life and to try to forget all about the notion of change.

Once she was inside of her cocoon, Claudia lost all track of the time.  She was unable to see the sun nor the moon, so she had no idea how many days she had been hiding herself.  She slept for much of the time and when she was awake, she thought about her friends and especially about Elby, and wondered how they were, and whether they would be missing her?  Many times she felt the urge to leave her cocoon, but each time the thought crossed her mind, she quickly dismissed it because she felt that she was not yet ready.  The urge to be different was strong inside of her still, and she told herself over and over that she did not wish to change.  My friends are important to me, I do not wish to lose them, she repeated to herself.

And then, on the first morning of her fourth week, Claudia woke with a sudden start.  The feelings that she had been having were no longer inside of her.   Her heart seemed to be empty and quiet.  She had silenced them!  "Yes!" she shouted, "I've done it.  I stopped myself from changing.  I extinguished the urge.  I can see my old friends again!"  Excited and anxious to see her friends, she broke down a wall of her cocoon and squeezed herself out.  Hurriedly, she ran to see her most dearest friend, Elby, who she found sitting on her favourite toadstool.

"Hello Elby!" she called out as she approached.  "It's me, Claudia!"

Elby looked around but did not seem to see Claudia.   "Claudia?  Where are you?  I don't see you."

"It's me Elby.   I'm right here."  Claudia was now standing right in front of Elby.

"You're not Claudia.  What kind of trick is this?"

"Of course I'm Claudia!  Oh Elby, I've only been gone a few days, surely you haven't forgotten your best friend already?"

"I haven't seen Claudia for about three weeks.  After a few days, I feared that perhaps a bird had taken her.  But anyway, you cannot be Claudia because Claudia was my caterpillar friend."

"Oh Elby, it is me.  And of course I'm a caterpillar.  Have you been at the mushrooms again Elby?  You know how they affect you so."

"Well, I can safely say that you are no caterpillar.  You're a butterfly if ever I saw one."

"What?  What did you say?" Claudia was in shock.

"I said that you're a butterfly."

It was only then that Claudia felt the flex of the delicate wings on her back, the daintiness of her legs and the spring of her step.  "Oh my gosh!  I did change."  

"I don't know you any longer Claudia.  I told you that I didn't want you to change, and look at what you went and did!"  

Claudia could sense that Elby was annoyed with her, when she had hoped that she would be pleased to see how her friend had changed and grown.  "Are we no longer friends Elby?"

"I cannot be friends with someone I no longer know."  And with that, Elby unfolded her little wings and flew off, leaving a sad and stunned Claudia all alone.  Claudia sat and wept.

Some time later, she was still weeping when she heard a voice.  "Ahem.  Ahem!  So, sorry to trouble you, but you seem rather upset about something.  Are you alright?"

Claudia looked up to see a magificent and handsome looking butterfly standing before her, flexing it's wings slowly up and down. 

"I'm sad because today I lost my best friend."

"How could you lose your friend?  What did you do?"

"I changed from a caterpillar into a butterfly and my friend didn't want me to become different.  She became angry with me for changing."  Claudia began to sob again.

"Now let me tell you somethingWhat kind of person would not want to see their friend become better and to improve themselves?  What kind of person would want to stifle a friend's growth?  I would hardly call that kind of person a friend.  In fact, I would be so bold as to say that they were no friend at all, and furthermore, I'd say that very probably, they were jealous of you."

"Why would Elby be jealous of me?"

"Because you became something that she could not.  You grew.  You discovered your true self.  You followed the calling of your heart.  And because you became different.   A true friend would support you through all of that.  A true friend would be at your side for every step of the way.  By the way, my name is Monty." 

Claudia sniffed.  "I'm Claudia."

"Well Claudia, why don't you come with me and we'll find you some new friends.  I know a lot of other butterflies and insects that are going to be very pleased to meet you.  Will you come with me Claudia?"

"Yes, I will."

With that, both butterflies took to the air and flew once, twice, three times around the head of a bright yellow flower and fluttered off on the breeze.  And from that day on, there was never a more happy, contented and beautiful butterfly in all this world than Claudia.

Saturday, 2 March 2013

Even Those That Walk The Path Must Suffer

Some days, it is hard not to feel bitter and affected by the things that have occurred in your life.  Every single person suffers at one time or another, no one is exempt.  Not even those of us who profess to be walking our one true path are exempt from suffering the afflictions of failure, or from feeling plagued by doubts about the journey and the direction of the path.  This is all part of what it means to walk the path.  This is what it means to be alive. 

I am feeling this way right now.  Within me, a bitterness has crept upon me and taken hold, wrapping its tendrils of fear and hate around my heart.  I am not conscious of it all of the time, but in quiet moments of reflection, I find it there, whispering acid and noxious words, trying to smother the light of my soul with its dark cloak of negativity.

How can it be that a person who proclaims such happiness can suffer affliction and carry negativity and unhappiness within themselves?  The answer to that is simply this: I am human.  But there is also something more.  I am strongly connected to my heart and my heart is my life.  And because of this deep connection I have with my heart, I feel my emotions keenly. 

I am walking my one true path, of this I am absolutely and unequivocally sure. I know this is true because of the general way in which I view life.  My life has been an amazing journey and for this, I am truly grateful and appreciative.  I smile often.  I laugh for no reason, other than because of the joy I am feeling at that moment.  I am passionate about what I do.  These are the things that tell me I am on the right path.  I have been able to take advantage of opportunities that have come my way, opportunities that have shaped my destiny and allowed me to discover my own truth, my own path.  All that I have achieved, everything that I have witnessed and experienced has been possible because of one single reason.  I have been alone pretty much all of my adult life, I have never had anyone to share my path for more than a fleeting instant.  And that has been both a gift and a curse to me.

I have fulfilled many of my dreams in life.  Some of these dreams I did not know even existed until I discovered them.  I consider myself to have been extremely fortunate.  I was working at the hotel the other day, talking to some people about my life, and how I changed my stars and sought out my true path, when someone asked me if I had any dependents?  "No", I replied.  "Well then", she said, "that makes it much easier for you."  And she was right.  It does.  I have no dependents and I have no responsibilities to any other person.  I never have.  This is why I am able to live the life that I do.  This is how I am able to flit from one place to another like a butterfly that floats on the breeze.  The words that this woman spoke struck deep into me, they struck at my core.  It was certainly not the first time I had thought about this, but hearing it said by another person made it all the harder to bear.

It's not that I ever wanted to live my life alone.  Far from it.  I have always wanted to find the right person, to get married and to start a family.  Each time I have tried to form a relationship, it has gone wrong.  When I got close to settling down, a situation occurred that was to change everything.  I have never had a long term relationship.  I have never known what it is like to have someone by your side that you can rely on, that you can trust, and that you know fully.  I have never gotten that far.  I know that much of this has been my own doing.  I am not blameless.  I know the one major reason that my relationships have failed has been down to my own feelings of being undeserving of love, and in seeking out the kind of love that was ultimately doomed from the start.  I have invested so much time and effort in trying to make doomed situations work, that I have drained myself of energy and of my own life.  I have worked so hard to prove a point to myself, that no matter what I do, I will never find true and lasting love.  I have been the architect of my own failures.  It is akin to trying to build a skyscraper and knowing full well, that you did not ensure that there were solid foundations.

And here lies the basis for my feelings of negativity and bitterness.  I ask myself whether I have missed my chance of a family?  I am after all, now in my early forties and time is flowing ever constantly on.  Did I overlook any opportunities?  Should I have persevered longer in a relationship?  Did I take the easy route?  Did I run, when I should have stayed?  Is life playing a cruel trick on me, denying me the one thing I have sought the most? 

I'll never know the answers and they matter not.  I am here and it is now.  Everything that I have done, everything that I have experienced has brought me to here.  To this point.  I have been on a voyage of discovery about myself and I have learned so much.  Last year I finally had my eyes opened to the lesson of my life, that I saw myself as being undeserving of love.  Now, perhaps, armed with that knowledge, I have a real chance.  I think I always knew that I needed to strike out and to reach for my path.  It was something that always dwelt within me.  I now walk my one true path.  I am ready.  I may be late, but I am here now.  All I need do, is find a special someone who also understands the simple gifts of life, who can see that life is an opportunity not to be wasted, and someone who will laugh for no reason, just because they feel like doing it.  I am here.  I am waiting.  My search goes on.

When you walk your one true path, you will never be exempt from the feelings of bitterness, negativity, anger, fear, anguish, and anxiety.  These are all humans emotions and to live a life in tune with your heart, is to feel all of your emotions.  If you are walking your one true path, these feelings never last long.  At your core you will know love.  Love defeats every other emotion.  With love in your heart, you are invincible.  The tendrils of negativity will wither and die, they will be burned away by the bright glow and fire of love.  But you must know these feelings of negativity and make them your allies, because they help you to know that you are walking your true path.  If you cannot shake them, then the path is not true.  The true path is the path of positivity, of love and of the light.

And with this, goes my bitterness and my resentment.  My path has taught me much and it has shown me miracles.  I have total faith in my heart.  My heart is love and love is the light.  So I shall keep on walking, knowing that when the time is right for me, she will come.