List Led Life

I get happiness from ticking things on lists that I have drawn up in my head (or on paper if the list gets too long or complicated). Is this interesting or sad?

Here’s a typical list:

  • write a list
  • claim travel
  • create documents
  • do hypercare sql
  • write a panto scene
  • delay fttp schedule
  • get peanut butter
  • wash mats

The beauty of the first item is that as soon as I’ve finished the list I get an instant boost.

The list tends to be a mix of easy and difficult things so that I can fit stuff into the gaps in my life; like fitting pebbles and sand into a jar.

I tend to mix work and home stuff on lists because I’m working from home and have lost my home/life balance.

I have a list of things that I need to do every day too. In no particular order, it goes something like this:

  • get up at 6am (unless I went to bed after 11pm)
  • go for a walk before starting work
    (this used to be ‘walk 10,000 steps but that got too onerous)
  • read x number of pages of a book (or two)
  • write a blog post (or two)
  • learn Hindi on Duolingo until I reach 150 points
  • read for a few minutes before I go to sleep
  • answer any messages on my blog
  • listen to BBC Radio One for an hour or so.

There are some other things in there too relating to eating and keeping clean, but I’ll not bore you (any more than I have already) with that stuff.

What’s my point? Why am I telling you this? I guess it’s because I’m wondering why I’ve let myself become a slave to all these things. I mean, if you took them all out of my life then I would have an amazing amount of spare time. If I did then I would be able to do the following:

  • learn how to meditate properly
  • get to know my wife better
  • contact my family more than yearly
  • have friends in the real world
  • publish my novels
  • redecorate the house

I don’t know how appealing that last list looks to you, but it doesn’t excite me one little bit. Sure, some of the things look interesting as short-term projects, but …

But what, Robert?

Dunno.

No; come one. But what?

Well, they just look so limited.

Limited in what way?

Well, you know … they’re just all based on things that are going to … pass away.

Do you mean ‘die’?

Yeah. That.

What’s wrong with death?

Well, it’s … it just seems silly to put energy into things that are going to be … gone.

But won’t you be gone too?

,,,

Robert?

[sigh]

Struggle

Have you ever thought of life as being a fight? When you die, who will have won? You? Or life?

If you wrestle life down. Pull it from the sky and into the ground. If you submerge life. Bury life. Take life into the dark, moist earth and hold it until it gasps for breath and begs for mercy; and then suffocate it anyway.

Then find you’ll find that you have won.

But what is your prize?

Think about it.

Start Again

Take yourself back to before you knew anything, forget all of the stuff that’s going to happen and just start over. Have fun this time.

Hello.

Hello, is that Robert Day?

Yes, speaking.

I’m Doctor P, is it okay to talk now?

Yes.

So, how can I help?

I have this thing on the side of my head and I wanted someone to look at it and tell me that it’s not cancer.

How long has it been there? Is is growing? Does it itch? Is it infected? Has it changed colour? Have you lost weight?

More than a year. Yes. No. No. Depends on the light. No.

When can you come in?

Today or the week after next.

When today?

Now.

How far away are you?

Seven minutes.

I expect to see you in ten minutes.

Okay.

Hi, I’m here to see Doctor P. He asked me to come in.

That’s fine, take a seat.

Hi, Robert Day?

Doctor P?

Yes, please come in.

It looks like a seborrhoeic wart. I want to take some photographs to sent to the dermatologist.

Sure.

Thanks.

How soon will I hear?

Two weeks.

Thanks, Doctor P.

That’s okay.

So, you see how life turns on the head of a pin? Don’t forget to have fun.

All Day Life

Sometimes, like now, I think that I wish I could write all day.

I have 63 drafts of stories, articles and novels in this WordPress account but I just can’t get around to finishing them

Today I wrote half of a wonderful story for you, but I just don’t have the time to finish it and post it out.

It’s about twenty-five minutes to eleven at night here in York, UK and I have to go to bed now, otherwise I’ll be too tired to go through the events of tomorrow, most of which will be either banal, routine or for the benefit of someone else, even though they won’t appreciate one jot of what I do.

Sometimes I ask, like now: when is my life going to begin?

On the bright side – at least I have a life.

Kinda.

Love has Many Faces – Foundation of Life

God’s love is the spiritual love, which is the foundation of life. My wife said ‘why don’t you put a little heart in there?’ and I said ‘because it’s kind of implied.’ And it is, isn’t it. Because if you love God then you don’t have to trouble yourself with thoughts about hearts because yours will be safe and secure in God’s arms. In fact, you’ll be in God’s heart too. And the other thing is that we’re not talking here about physical hearts that are red and that beat constantly as long as you draw breath, we’re talking about something more infinite and intangible. Spiritual love is the only kind God has and it’s the only kind you need. You can rest easy when you trust your heart to God because then you’re on solid ground. God is strong. Relax. Be loved.

Another White Page to Bother with my Scribbles

I smile and breath gently out through my nostrils. You wouldn’t want me to breathe though my mouth because I’ve just had cheesy rice (with veggies). It was lovely, but not everyone likes the same smells.

I glance up and see two frogs sat on the window ledge like lovers on a bench enjoying the moonlit park and the tiny sounds of the drunk in the bushes as she sleeps off another bender.

I wonder what to write now and Soni look inside my mind for inspiration but all I see there is the knowledge that I have to wash to dinner pots soon and that I only have five minutes to type this and do that before I have to be on stage.

Oh, and I need to pee so perhaps I should finish now safe in the knowledge that I have applied a scribble or two to another blank page and ruined that pristine cleanliness in the process.

Life!

Love has Many Faces

(Part one of a two parter. Part two can be found here.)

I’m reminded of the stone statues of faces on Easter Island – all of them looking rather grim and all of them many, many years old. Can the human heart last so long in such a grim state?

Many years ago, I was a data-entry person at a steel firm in Sheffield. The job was so boring that I regularly used to fall asleep whilst entering this data. Literally. My head would drop and I would be away. I would awake some time later staring at a little pool of drool a few inches away from where my fingers were still resting lightly on the keyboard.

It wasn’t just my lack of interest in the job that sent me drifting away into sleep, it was the fact that scant hours earlier I had been enjoying myself at the local nightclub. And not just that night, but several night per week. In short, I was staying awake as long as I could in order to enjoy myself. I was living the dream. My dream.

Nowadays I do much the same. I try to stay up at night for as long as possible and then go to bed where, after a night’s sleep that always seems to be way too short, I wake up in the early morning hours to grope my way through the darkened house into the kitchen in order to make a nice cup of tea to wake me up.

This may seem like the same behaviour as before, but it’s a little different now. This time around I’m not partying into the early morning hours, I’m working on bettering myself.

I have a lifelong love of learning and I adore newness. Whether it’s facts or techniques it’s all the same to me – I pick them up like shiny pennies from the pavement. And it doesn’t matter which subject comes up – I love them all.

My absolute favourite subject, though, is me. I have never been so fascinated with anything than my own sweet self. I find that there is so very much to learn about the way I am set up inside. My attitudes, perceptions, awareness and the very fact of my consciousness are all of immense interest to me and they earn my scrutiny every single minute of the day.

There’s so very much of me that, sometimes, I get lost in my own immensity. I can often latch onto a single thought and then follow it for leagues across my inner landscape. Behind my eyes flicker images and scenes that enthral me with their complexity and attractiveness. I pass from one idea to the next with bewildering speed until I am as far away from my starting point as my body is away from the far end of the universe.

And then I wake up and find that a small puddle of drool has formed beneath my open mouth. Ah, some things don’t ever change.

Because I know that I have the tendency to follow thoughts into the depths of myself and this turns into physical sleep, I try to take steps to avoid this. No, I don’t take the obvious step of getting to bed earlier; life is much too interesting for that. Instead I try to clear my mind.

When I think about what I just said, I wonder how this would help me to get to know myself better. Why would  clearing away the thoughts in my mind enable to to know more about myself. Surely I am my thoughts, right?

Turns out that I’m not. I’m the thinker rather than the thoughts. What I’ve learned is that the more I can go beyond the thoughts that come automatically into my mind on the basis of what I see, hear or remember, the more power I have to generate my own thoughts. And when I do this, I can create wonders.

Imagine that you could decorate the rooms of your home at the click of your fingers. Now realise that your mind is your real home. You have the power to change the wallpaper in your mind as fast as your thoughts can travel from one neuron to another. Bam – your internal walls are fluorescent-green. Wham – they are powder-blue.

And it’s not just the colour scheme that’s under your control, it’s your emotions too. Emotions happen as a result of what you think. Put a kind thought in your mind and you feel happy. Place a cruel thought there and you will feel sad. But here’s the thing: it takes a little practice to get things set up the way you want them to be.

This is why I meditate. This is why I sit and practice clearing my mind. Because, the clearer my mind is, the fewer thoughts I have to compete with when I want to create those of my own choice. And the fewer thoughts I allow to enter my mind randomly and without my choice, the less I get dragged away by them into small pools of drool.

I can get very still inside. I can rest easily there and float serenely in a place that’s beyond worry and apprehension. And I can remain still even when disturbances come knocking. I can do this because I know that any reaction I have to external events is only a thought. It’s just another thought that I can choose to follow, or wave to as it floats past me and away leaving me still still.

But it’s not like being a zombie. There’s emotion and action and living and enjoyment and dancing through the streets of my life, but it’s all set to my own music and according to the script that I have written for myself – one of love, purity, happiness and beauty.

And the more I meditate; the more I go within my mind and practice creating my own, beautiful thought, the better I get at writing my own script and the music to accompany it.

Those stone statues of faces on Easter Island are alive in a way that few realise. They are testament to a life lived away from the distraction of things. They represent the many faces of love. Not love of the things of life, but the love of the beauty of life itself.

Because the thing is – they’re not grim at all, they’re at peace. They have found that the surest way to a long life is to step away from the hurly-burly of everyday living and move to a higher level of existence. They have found that a heart filled, not with love of possessions and things, but with a peaceful coexistence with themselves and the world is the very acme of a contented life.

And that’s what I’m trying to achieve for myself. This lifelong education I’m giving myself is not only about the things I find in books and on the internet, it’s about what I find in the crystal-clear depths of my mind and heart. And it’s not just about the thoughts and feelings I find when I dive within, it’s about what I find when I clear these things away and see what’s behind them. It’s not about the objects on the altar but it’s about the clean, pure lines of the temple when everything has been swept, cleaned and cleared away. It’s about what I discover within myself when my heart is clean. I find love in its purest form. Not a love of doing but a love for being.

Any questions?

(Part one of a two parter. Part two can be found here.)

Life on the Beach

Whereas before I would be in some other country, now I am in the comfort of my study. Travelling the world has been exchanged for walking from the bedroom to the bathroom. Train journeys have become tootles around the block and jet planes are just pie in the sky.

We grow, we shrink. Our bodies expand on the in-breath and contract on the out. What we were before is gone and what we are now is a downsized dream. Where will we be in a year’s time? It depends. Some parts of life will be calm and quiet and others will have tipped over the edge into insanity. Who’s to tell which of us will be up and which one south.

I know one thing, though – chocolate will still taste good. Whether we get it will be another matter. Travel corridors shorten and the time it takes to travel will lengthen. We’ll be home more than away and the new norm will be darker or paler than the one before.

Then again, this might be the last crisis ever. We might pick ourselves up, learn our lessons and then move on at an enlightened pace. We could finally say enough is enough and just do things properly from now on. Chances are that we need to.

I’m Robert and I’m sitting on the futon in the study and talking out of my thumbs. Of course everything and everyone is going to be okay. How could it not be! This cushion is as soft as it ever was and the traffic swishes by as it ever did. The sun will rise, the rain will fall and the grass will grow – why the heck shouldn’t it? Time flies like an angel. Thoughts leave us to circumvent the universe. Life does what it always does: it comes and goes, ebbs and flows. And we remain as we always were: flotsam and jetsam on the beach – taking in the sun and the scenery. Why not come visit me? Kettle’s on – what’s your poison, my friend?

Oh, wait – maybe we should wait a while. At least until … until … until …

All the Darkness, All the Light

I really don’t like the idea of the comma in this title (currently All the Darkness, All the Light) and so I might change that. Anyway, onwards.

This phrase describes my life and could even be the real title of my (as yet unwritten) autobiography. If I was diagnosed as dying from an incurable cancer then this is what I’d write about.

There is a lot of dark, secret stuff hidden in my head. There’s stuff that I’m ashamed of – not because it is (really) bad, but because I’m me and I like to hide stuff that I think people might judge me for. There’s also stuff that … Okay, let’s just stop at ashamed of for now. Nothing illegal though – just to be clear.

There’s also a lot of really good stuff that I’ve never told anyone. Hmm – wait. Okay – I’ve pretty much told all the good stuff (because I’m an ego-ridden monster) and so I’ll just repeat that stuff and label it light. And by that I mean good rather than lightweight.

Ha – I went to put some food on the stove and in that time I realised that I’ve just described everyone’s life. We all have dark and light stuff. We all hide things we’re ashamed of and brag about stuff we like about ourselves.

Listen, you know what – forget about it. I’m not dying and so there’ll be no scandalous autobiography. Forget I said anything, okay!

*walks out and slams door*

*broods a little*

*gets bored*

*comes back and finishes making dinner*

And sod the damn comma!!