Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Awakening (Part Three) - Reawakening

I was sitting out in my back garden, a few nights ago, on the old, broken-armed office chair that was once in my room, and I was crying my heart out, lost in what felt like a new depth of sadness and grief. I’ve really never had to endure such emotional trauma in life, before.

Losing my precious and beloved kitty, Scratchy, last week, and with my Mum’s passing still seeming so raw, as well as my eldest brother’s precarious state of health and a close encounter with the afterlife by my Dad… and add in my own near-fatal medical emergency, last October, and you can perhaps empathise, if not sympathise, with the overwhelming feeling that life has been a rotten bastard to me this year.

I sat there, looking up at the stars but not seeing them, and I knew that I was just a few days into what could be months of grieving. Scratchy was my family. Some people won’t understand that, and I pity them. She’s been such an important part of my life for sixteen-and-a-half years. I love her. I miss her. There are too few cats in my house, now. Her loss is massive.

I couldn’t see the way forward. All I wanted to do was collapse in some dark, warm corner, wrapped in a big duvet, and ride out the next few months by sleeping, but that would spell absolute disaster on the accommodation front. I need to make money, but inaction is not conducive to the income of shinies. Yet, I felt emotionally wrung out and just so consumed by misery that I couldn’t imagine being able to write anything creative, positive or inspiring to make money from, at least for a good while ahead.

I got annoyed with myself, thinking: ‘Why don’t you practise what you preach, Les?’

With that reminder to myself… that break in that turmoil of emotion I was choking on… I sat up straight, put my hands on my knees, closed my eyes and listened to the night; the faint hiss of traffic on the motorway, a few miles away; the light breeze in the trees and the soft rustling of leaves; the cries and hoots of a very vocal owl that has taken up residence somewhere in the village over the past few weeks…

A few moments later, I felt as clear-headed and tranquil as I did on the mountain in Lochgoilhead. Just as I’ve written, so many times, all that emotional agony slipped away and I was at peace again. Even though this period of life could be fairly described as the worst I’ve ever experienced, I was able to invoke present awareness and return to my calm centre.

Wiping the tears from my eyes and face, I questioned myself again. There was nobody else around. I’d been sitting there, crying alone, so who was this show of sorrow for? For me? Really? When what I needed most in my life was strength, I was disabling myself with grief?

The tears weren’t helping my Mum or Scratchy – they weren’t going to drop on the ground and magically bring them back to life. Nor did they have any healing benefit to my sick brother or my Dad, or any financial value that I could add towards securing accommodation and a stable future. And they most certainly weren’t helping me in any way whatsoever.

It dawned on me that grief is just another manifestation of the ego and, however many excuses I could make and reasons I could find to justify my weakness, I was feeling sorry for myself – and, it was only that which was separating me from a return to having a happy and productive life, to building a future of my own design.

I’m accepting of death. I don’t fear it. Wherever my loved ones go to, I’ll follow, when it’s time. Whether that be to some sparkly afterlife or an eternal sleep is not important to me, while I’m alive. I know they’re at peace and I’ll join them there when I have to.

The thing about grief is that it’s so addictive. You don’t want to climb out of it, as if wallowing in that hole is some kind of show of loyalty or respect to those you’ve lost… but like I’ve written before in my blog, those same souls would never want to expose us to such terrible emotional pain. They would want us to be happy – no question about it.

So, it all boils down to the same egoic process of malfunctioned thinking that finds pain in the mismatch between what the mind wants, and what is real and tangible in the world we experience.

Many people have told me that it’s okay to cry… even that it’s necessary… but it’s okay not to cry, too, and I don’t mean to any longer, now I can see so clearly that I’ve been crying for myself.

The housing situation became unexpectedly critical over the weekend, with my eldest brother telling us that – because he’s coming up to 12 weeks in hospital, in a period of one year – most of his benefits are due to be stopped, since the government see him as effectively living in hospital. My other brother and I just can’t afford to keep the house on, as things stand, and this was another thing that was eating away at me… not so much losing accommodation, but losing the home I’ve spent most of the days of my life in and all the memories and sentiment attached to it, as well as the fact that I have dear kitties and other creatures buried in the back garden.

I’m not worried about that, now. If I have an attachment to this house which will cause me pain when I’m parted from it, then I have to let it go. Perhaps some new family will take over the tenancy and dig up the bones of my pets, but those bones are not the creatures I loved so much.

The weight of the world has fallen from my shoulders. Life is exactly the way it is, and I choose to accept that, rather than wish, to no avail, it were different.

I feel as present and serene as I did when I experienced my 'Awakening’, back in February 2010, and do feel this is a ‘Reawakening’. I’ve managed to purge all the junk in my head and open my heart to a new beginning… to accept loss of even this magnitude as part and parcel of life… and to know that there’s nothing now that can happen that will drag me so far down, again, into that emotional tar pit I’ve been struggling through over the course of the past twelve months.

So, whilst enduring my greatest weakness, I’ve found my greatest strength again, and I’m reminded of how powerful a tool present awareness is, as well as how important it is that I keep sharing my experiences. I’m qualified to write and talk about mindfulness and death, now – which, before all this cascading tragedy began, I knew would be my greatest challenge to practicing being in the moment. I’ve passed the test, and I’m sure there will be many out there in the world who would like to learn how to alleviate their own pain in such times.

I also want to teach young adults present awareness. As much as I accept my life as it has been, and many of the ‘failures’ have helped build spiritual muscles that I was never aware of before, I spent too many years deluding myself that the world was torment, when – apart from the sad song of depression I kept singing to myself – it was actually pretty cosy. There are too many people who are lost in depression when they could and should be having the time of their life, and it would be great to nudge some of them towards a more positive and enriching way of living.

I feel a little like the protagonist in a three act structure of a play. The rules are, at the end of the second act, the protagonist must face an almost overwhelming challenge that threatens to destroy them in some way, yet they come good and conquer it.

From Wikipedia:

“They must not only learn new skills but arrive at a higher sense of awareness of who they are and what they are capable of, in order to deal with their predicament, which in turn changes who they are.”

And if life has meaning and there’s a purpose to everything you experience and process, then I regard my Awakening in 2010 as preparation for the times I’m living through, at the moment. Without that event, I wouldn’t be here. I couldn’t have faced things of late. Now, though, I feel like I’ve moved up to a new level, and perhaps this new strength and wisdom is in preparation for something else? As I said, I can’t envisage anything worse than losing those I love, so maybe my Act Three is about teaching and learning and living a good life, spreading peace and the jollies wherever I go and in whatever I do?

I choose that path.

Awakening is a constant process of adaptivity to change. It’s a spiritual bullshit detector that filters out the falsehood of the egoic mind from the true joys and beauty in life, which you’ll see when you look at it right.

It’s not a magic trick. It’s not a superpower. It’s a truth at the core of us, and we are all able to access this strength, whenever we need it. Some of us have just forgotten how, so I’ll make it my mission in life to remind them – and myself.


  1. Great article. Thanks for your inspiration. I really had to ponder on "grief is a manifestation of the ego" but your explanation makes perfect sense. Here's to living consciously in the present moment :-)

  2. Hello Les, This is one of the best blog posts I have ever read! Beautiful, inspiring! I have been trying to learn more about mindfulness, and this post is very helpful. Sorry for the loss of Scratchy and for your present difficulties.

  3. Dear Les, this is so inspiring especially since my own mum is leaving us too. Thank you for this type of reflective writing which helps us all to embrace life with less pain. Samantha

  4. I have thoroughly enjoyed reading this. I hope to read more from you in the future.

  5. Les.
    You have an incredible and beautiful gift. I believe you will help so many people in addition to those I am sure you have already touched with your writing.
    WOW. Really. It is a completely new concept to me... except it is not.. not really and I think that is because you are right that we all do have the strength inside us and we do need to be reminded sometimes. Thank you for that.

  6. This is such an inspirational post you have share with us here...thank you. I wish more people would think like this and live up to their potentials by becoming more "aware." I loved when you wrote, "and many of the ‘failures’ have helped build spiritual muscles that I was never aware of before..." Captivating, intriguing, and well thought out!

  7. Thanks for tweeting this. It comes at the right time to remind me to stay awake instead of wander around in a semi-sleep of worry and self pity.

  8. Good stuff Les. What helped me out of my own grief one morning as I stood there, alone in my flat doing the dishes, my relationship having recently ended, was the sudden realisation that this pain I was suffering must be the same pain that all the great novelists, playwrights, songwriters et al also must have suffered. Little ol' me feeling what Shakespeare must have felt or Lennon and McCartney. I started to laugh and dance around the kitchen, feeling privileged to have experienced the depth of loss. This was a real gift.

  9. Nice one, Gav! There's always a silver lining, if we're fortunate enough to look for it. :-)