Life has many ups and downs. Some more down than up, but one thing is clear – every dilemma, every crisis, every mistake, every downfall is an opportunity for learning. It all depends on your perspective.
When one is in the midst of the hurricane, one cannot see the sky. One cannot see the blue of the canopy, or the pink or yellow of the setting sun. One can only see and feel the screaming gale and the thrashing rain. The Fall of the Old Life is beginning. And it is a dreadful place to be.
However, during the midst of the storm we forget it is passing. It can take several storms, and several hurricanes, to get to this point in time, the time when we change beyond recognition. It takes the Mother of All Storms to reach a point in life where we crawl out of the sea, or the wreckage of our own lives, wondering who and what we are. But this is the First Day. The New Day. For after we have endured the death of the Old Self, we have been given the gift of the Second Life. This Second Life, we are changed and nothing can ever be the same. But, my Dear Human, this is not a change to be feared or resisted. The Second Life offers us that which we denied ourselves in the First. We get to begin again, and set a course of our own choosing.
One of the main things that we experience is what we are willing to accept. We have faced and endured the death of the Old Self. This needed to happen. It was painful, dark and often lonely. But the dark can only give us more appreciation of the light. Our perspectives change, our preferences change. What matters to us and what doesn’t changes. What we hold to be of value changes. What we bring through into the Second Life is of great importance because it is of great value – we treasured it enough to hold onto despite the storm trying to tear it from our grasp. Our hold, and our faith and our desire to keep those things close regardless of the tempest’s fury, was worth holding on to.
We also learn that what we thought makes us does not. The outside world, society, people, have their own opinions and thoughts about what makes us – a man, a woman, a good individual, a bad individual. There are roles placed upon us by others and, for the most part, we feel the need to fulfil those roles, or live up to them in some way, and sometimes that need is deep and powerful and calls upon our instincts. But it does not make us. It does not make us who we are, and does not define us, nor does not fulfilling that role define us either. We choose our roles in life and, to some degree, we can be influenced by others because of shame, or guilt or obligation. But to feel we need to take on roles that we do not desire nor had planned for ourselves is not being authentic to our true self and we can often pay a terrible price for living a lie.
You see, my Dear Human, your soul, your being, your character, your integrity, values, interests and how you treat others is what defines you, not your gender or your station in life. You are not defined by others. You can only define yourself. We can say we are successful, high-flying and wealthy, but how often do we say we are good, generous, funny or kind? Too often the good things we feel about ourselves or what others say about us are dismissed because one simply cannot accept one can possess those qualities for reasons only the heart knows.
But the world is still kind and good and just. It is still beautiful and the mountain still stands strong after the hurricane has passed overhead. But parts of it have gone – the old, weather-worn sides and the dead wood. New growth springs anew. New life, new ideas, new concepts. The mountain still stands but is forever changed by the storm, but not in the way you expect. No, nothing will ever be the same again, but the world is viewed with fresh eyes, with a deeper understanding of how things are, of why things are. Sometimes the storms come and we must endure them. Sometimes things happens but we are not meant to know why. But the inside of the mountain remains unmoved. Some may disapprove of its new appearance, but they cannot know the heart and mind of it, or why it is; why it chooses to grow bristle-cone pine instead of Scots or cedar. But the opinions and criticisms of those who do not know what storms it has weathered are of no concern. It matters not, only that it stands and will continue to do so regardless of what the fox or the deer might say.
The mountain weathers the storms, is changed by them but does not crumble. It is not defined by them nor by what attaches itself to it or what others use it for. It is a thing of nature. It is what it is. It defines itself. It is strong in its core. Veins of silver and gold run through it. It is made of crystal and granite. No storm can bring it down.
And the skylark sings overhead after the storm has passed.
The Mountain and the Fire Inside it.
Unbroken. Undefeated. Unconquered.
Yours Under the Sacred Oaks
There are times in life we become wrapped up in things. Life takes us over and we forget what is important. We stop doing the things we enjoy and other things take presidence. It may be a conscious decision, or we may have found ourselves swept along by the current of life and circumstances. Either way, we may find ourselves in someone else’s story and have left our own far behind. We are not ourselves anymore. We have forgotten who we are. We have forgotten our own story.
This can happen to any of us. Our hopes and dreams, our ambitions and the plans we had have all fallen away and been taken over by things outside ourselves. We find ourselves dancing to someone else’s tune, forfeiting our pleasures and our desires for the wants and needs of others. We may feel time is slipping away from us and all the things we had planned we can no longer partake in because of other things, other plans, other schedules, other agendas…and so it goes on. No longer do we wake up in the morning and think “I’m really looking forward to starting that project today…” as our lives cease to be our own. There is no place for our creativity anymore. no place for our individuality to expand and explore the far reaches of our imaginations, to start new things, to experiment, to try new things out, or to just allow the mind to wander like a errant moon across a star-studded sky. No room to be ourselves anymore. We cease to be. We wink out of existence like we never were. The light inside of us goes out. It is like the sun going out.
When that happens it is missed. The light and the creativity and the spark that made us is missed by others. Terribly so. When one begins to disappear like Marty McFly in his photograph in Back to the Future, it is noticed by others and our friends and loved ones can do nothing but watch helplessly and with great sadness as we fade from view with all the happy and fun memories fading with us. As we forget who we are, we fade. When we no longer do the things that drive us on, the things that get us out of bed in the morning, the things that make our hearts and souls sing, we fade. And we are missed. We are missed terribly. And such a sight of us fading from the ones we love is a travesty. Good things should never fade. They should shine and be seen. For it is that light and that energy that draws others to us, that forges connections that are deep and profound and life-changing. When that fades, the earth breaks asunder and that cannot be.
Be that crab that climbs out of the bucket. Be the crab that reaches for the moon and touches it and brings it down to earth so bright things can be forged in silver. Hide not the light inside for, when it fades, it is missed. The world needs the light and the creativity and the imagination. Be the creator of worlds as you once were, and never again let that be taken from you. It is far too valuable and precious to be allowed to fade, to disappear into darkness. Let it not fade into obscurity and mediocrity for you are unique and made of stardust. Your skills are needed and so you must pick up the items of your trade and begin again. Everything exists in cycles. Night and day. Life and Death. Winter is over. Turn your face to the sun and let your creativity flow once again. You are enough and the world needs it. The world needs YOU.
Your Friend Always,
In this time of cultural nihilism, we are often told that loneliness is a scourge on our community. It is. The lack of interaction – true, meaningful interaction – with other sentient beings, human or Grimalkin, like ourselves can leave us feeling very detached from the world, bereft and isolated. I want to address some things as this is a subject close to my heart. I have felt loneliness at times but I have also known those who are lonely. And so, this blog is for them.
We all seek out others of our kind. Our family. Our community. Our clan. Our tribe. It is a natural response to want to be with those who understand us, who can care for us and who we can care for in return. We seek sanctuary in these relationships. We yearn for that deep connection that touches our minds, hearts and souls. We want that silent knowing that we are accepted without question by those who are like us. It is where we find security, peace, love and friendship.
But there are times when we can be surrounded by people and feel the loneliest being in the world. Why is this? I believe that we feel this way because we have lost, or never had, that essential connection with ourselves. Some can live their entire lives on their own and be happy and at peace with that because they have a strong sense of self. They know who they are and where they are going. But for many, seeking out others to deal with their loneliness becomes a mission, and sometimes a toxic and all-consuming one at that.
Loneliness is a natural reaction to the lack of meaningful connections with others. I say meaningful because we, as complex creatures, we want to engage with and expand our consciousness with others in our journey of life, share our hopes and dreams with them, share our loves and our pet peeves, our gripes and our simple pleasures and hope they understand them. We want validation that we matter, and that everything about us and our world has meaning and significance. We seek out others of our kind because we long to extend our universal love to those around us, to feel included and safe and secure. We are social beings. Our energies will naturally gravitate towards those who vibrate on a similar wavelength. The saying “you are on my wavelength” means exactly that.
Being connected to those like us brings us joy and peace. It brings out the best in us and we bring out the best in others in turn. But what if you do not have those connections? What if, at some point in your life, you find yourself feeling alone despite being in the midst of a crowd?
There are times when you can feel so disconnected from everything and everyone it becomes difficult to function in everyday life. Loneliness can draw you into a dangerous world of isolation, depression and self-sabotage. You can often feel like it is your fault you feel this way, like you have failed somehow, failed at being a human being because, here you are – you may be popular, have lots of friends or be successful – and yet you are wanting. You may feel guilty for feeling this way, somehow ungrateful, feeling the confusion of wanting to get away and yet yearning for the company of others, and this can lead to a downward spiral of depression. self-blame and even self-loathing. You feel like a fraud for putting on a smile and showing the world that you are okay but inside you are screaming. Keeping up appearances is a Sisyphean task – you get through the day with a laugh and a smile, keeping everyone’s probing questions of “u ok hun?” at bay, only to crawl to bed in the early hours, aching and despairing, having no room in your mind or your heart to think or feel anything but the darkness that is slowly pressing in upon you.
You can’t talk about it. How could you? You have to be the person everyone wants you to be. One person needs you to be one way, another person needs you to be another. You have to juggle flaming torches and spin plates all at the same time, pleasing everyone, or at least trying to. You try your hardest but inside you feel like you are failing, falling apart. You are keeping it together but barely. You don’t know what people want from you. You can’t be yourself. You begin to understand that you can’t keep everyone happy, you can’t please everyone. You can’t be everything to every person. You can’t do all the things you promised. You are being crushed under the sheer weight of the pressure around you – people, things, work, more people, more work, family….. It goes on and on. Your health is beginning to fail. You can’t do as much as you did before. That adds to the guilt. It weights even heavier upon you. The world becomes a carousel of noise and sound you can’t seem to escape from but you long to, long to get away for just a little while. You ache to get away from it all, to be alone, even away from the people you love most, but this also adds to the guilt. You feel like a monster for wanting a few precious moments away from them – to walk in the woods, to sit with a book and just gather your thoughts. Just for a few moments…
But in those moments, you still feel that void inside of you. The inescapable void that longs to be filled with something you don’t know what. You have been seeking it all your life but it has always eluded you. Sex. Work. Friends. Things. But it was never enough. Anger. Rage. Frustration, Depression. Despair, Sadness. Emptiness. It is all there. All working against you and yet there is no-one there to tell it to. You keep it in. You feel like your heart is going to explode with the sheer volume of it all. The loss. The pain. The inability to voice the discordant cacophony of feelings, emotions and thoughts playing a disharmonious dirge inside of you. It is a frightening and isolating place to be, my Dear Human. You cannot voice it because you don’t know how. You never learned that your thoughts and feelings were important. You were never taught that you mattered in a way that you should have done. But it matters. It always mattered. Because, my Dear Human, you are and essential part of the Whole, the All, just like the rest of us.
Your silence is killing you.
But oh, my Dearest Human, there is a way. From one who has walked through darkness and come out of the other side, there is a way to end this cycle of destruction. You can and are worth saving.
People often confuse being alone with loneliness. The two are not the same. Loneliness is the feeling of lack. Being alone is the feeling of contentment in one’s own company. It can take some time to adjust to being on one’s own but it is an important part of personal growth.
Now, I am not suggesting you end all of your relationships, cut all of your ties and live like a hermit or an anchorite until the end of your earthly days. You can be with others AND feel comfortable BEING ALONE at the same time.
Being alone does not mean shutting yourself off from others. Being alone means setting time aside for YOURSELF and doing the things you enjoy, being present in the moment, reflecting on the things you want out of life.
Being alone sets healthy boundaries with others. If you find you do not have a moment to yourself, be assertive and express your intention to have You-Time.
Being alone is essential to personal growth and development. Many people fear being on their own. If you feel this way, then ask yourself why? Are you afraid of yourself? Do you need to work on some inner issues? Do you need help with anything? If you need help ASK. NEVER BE AFRAID TO ASK FOR HELP. IF YOU ARE IN NEED OF HELP, PLEASE DO NOT SUFFER IN SILENCE. CONTACT SOMEONE YOU TRUST, A PROFESSIONAL OR A GP. NEVER SUFFER ALONE.
Being alone gives you much-needed time to evaluate your situations. If your life or situation requires change or improvement, being alone will give you the time and emotional/mental space you need to make rational and informed decisions.
It is easier said than done. The fear of being alone can be too much for some and they spend their entire lives seeking out company because they cannot, or will not, address the reasons why they feel that way. My belief is that is you have a strong, or at least, a stable, inner core, then being alone and doing things on your own, becomes something you enjoy and not something to be feared.
People fear being alone with themselves. You should never fear yourself. If you have difficulty finding yourself, then take time to discover that. But you can only do that by spending time alone. Make friends with yourself. Be your own best friend, your own brother or sister. Being alone helps you to discover things about yourself you never knew existed. You may surprise yourself – once you give yourself time to grow and expand in the new space you have given yourself, you will feel less lonely. You will have forged that essential connection with yourself, which is the most important connection of all, the most healthy relationship you can have. Of course, you will still have your relationships and people around you, but you will now have a choice – you will choose to seek out company because you will not need it as you once did. The need to fill the void will no longer be there because you have done the work inside. You can only fix and heal yourself, but always seek out professional help if you need it. No-one can solve your problems for you, nor can people, addictions or things be substitutes for the relationship you need to create with yourself.
There is one last thing I want to address. You are not a failure. You are not a bad person. You are not unwanted, or unloved, or incapable of doing things. You are not a misfit or a freak or a square peg in a round hole. Your experiences do not make you. Your character and your integrity does. If you have not fit into a particular niche in life, if you have always felt like an outsider, there is a reason why and it has nothing to do with you. It is not because there is something wrong with you, it is because there is something wrong with society. You will always find your clan, your tribe. If you are not resonating with those around you and it is making you sad, miserable, uncomfortable or depressed, never feel guilty about moving on. It is YOUR life and we only have a short time here so we need to make the most of it. Seek out those who chime with you. Never apologise and never explain. Part of the reason why we feel lonely is because we stay in situations out of obligation. We do not need to do this. We always have the choice to free ourselves and seek pastures new and feel less alone in the world.
Yours Under the Boughs
It’s not about defeat. It is not about self-destruction.
It’s about learning who and what you are again. Re-evaluating. Re-organising. Learning what works and what does not. What worked before may not now as, after the Fall, there comes the Rebuild. Just as Rome was never rebuilt the same way, so can a life never be the same after it has been broken. The Fall of the Old Life is an essential part of living, growing and evolving. Many old habits, thoughts, acquaintances no longer fit into the new Empire that is YOU. Feel no shame in opening your hands and letting them descend to earth to be recycled or to decay.
And yet, a few foundation stones remain to build upon – integrity, values – the things that fundamentally make you unique in this world. The old may go. It may die. It may turn to ashes and dissolve into the wind. It is no defeat to allow yourself to fall and shatter and to coalesce into a new form. Stars and planets do this endlessly. And so we must.
It is a difficult task. We are but children again, learning to walk and talk and find our way among our fellows once more. For we are new and untested in this fresh form in a world full of uncertainty, turmoil and despair. And yet, for those who have known a Fall and survived, sometimes many, it is simply another metamorphosis into a different and more evolved form, a better and more stable Empire of Self.