A is for Achievement

From time to time I wander along my timeline, wondering how far it goes and whether, having walked that line, will there be time to look back at what I have achieved.  Will it be my way?  And what, I wonder, might have been left undone?   So I think of Achievement and what it means to me.  Many years ago a friend who made many millions told me, ‘Making money is easy – as long as it’s all you want.’  The problem for him was he could never have enough. A colleague said, ‘He’ll be the richest man in the graveyard.’

Mantak Chia told me to make friends with money energy and that was good advice.  Not to fall in love with it, not to obsess over it, but just to make friends.   I was, at that time, going through a happy-hippy phase of saying I hated the stuff.  But then I wanted to travel the world and do courses with enlightened people. Oddly enough, when I changed my attitude my fortunes changed too, and I achieved what had been only a dream.

While some use money as a scoreboard to measure their Achievement, others have other aims, and if fulfilling an aim counts as Achievement then surely there is no limitation.  Would peace of mind count?  What would I need to achieve to have peace of mind?  I used to think it was financial security.  And how secure is that?  I have lived through more than one financial crisis caused by any number factors over which I had no control, and many more resulting from my own actions or lack of action!

What about emotional security?  Is that achievable?  And once achieved does it stay, a permanent state of being, regardless of the elements of love, hate, fear, courage, anger, jealousy, disrespect, or any other of the slings and arrows of ourtageous fortune that punctuate and puncture the fabric of time?

When I was very young I achieved the ability to stand up by myself.  I had, until recently, forgotten the amazing sense of delight, of Achievement, that filled my whole being in that  moment.  I got a wonderful reminder when a friend’s child did just that. And led me to reflect on other mundane achievements such as tying my own shoelaces, riding a bicycle, managing to stay on a horse over a jump, to surf standing up for just a few seconds, passing an exam, getting a qualification, making my living doing what I love with someone I love…Achievements big and small, years apart, adding up to a sum of things that have enriched my life.

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Extract from ‘The Winners’ Alphabet,’ due out later this year.  Watch this space!

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Go Back to Sleep!

It’s as if we’ve just woken up and discovered that politicians lie.  Have they not since the the foundation of (a slave-owning) democracy in Athens?

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Enough Already!

Let the rivals of Fear and Hatred – Water and Fire – find harmony in Wisdom and Love. The Past is where it belongs – behind us, and the Future is what we make it.  Let us show now we can step lightly in all worlds, and hope that our leaders discover that decency and courtesy might be a good way forward.

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All Over Bar the Voting

Just thought I’d save this till those who are going to have made up their mind but it did strike me as odd that we who for generations willingly gave our lives for our freedom and independence now seem unwilling to pay for it. Just saying, in fact reporting a conversation I heard between two chaps who couldn’t decide.

For me, the past weeks have shown the true, false and shifting colours of the low-lifes we elected to lead us.  I have even heard admiration expressed at the politicians’ mastery of evasion.

Ah well, they say a nation gets the government it deserves. Rock on!  Where will we be tomorrow?  Who will we be tomorrow?

‘Seek not the Truth, nor cherish Opinion.’ The First Zen Patriarch.

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Squeezing Oranges

Yesterday. Nine o’clock, morning.  In the kitchen.  Back from my early morning walk, twenty brisk minutes up and down the hill, a cup of English Breakfast tea halfway in Rosie Lee with a scan of the morning paper to catch up on current trends in history.  Before that, the daily discipline, challenge, joy and delight of another 500 word-steps of the book.  And even before that, first thing on waking up, watching the light creep in the window and rolling over to kiss the bundle under the blankets beside me, my sleeping Beloved, before tip-toeing downstairs.

Outside, nine o’clock, squeezed into tubes – no, Tubes – a mass of humanity compressed into different shapes, sharing their breath, fragrances of Starbucks and Caffe Nero, newly washed faces and freshly cleaned teeth, all the scents from all the bottles in Boots, bodies crushed by backpacks, boots by brief-cases, the screaming sounds of machinery impelling the steel sausage along the track, disemboweled at every stop by many-headed multitudes hurtling up and down steps and stairs to work to work to work to work ah-choo-choo.

And here I stand, squeezing oranges, by hand, feeling the unique texture in my palm, squishing the fruit on to the squeezy thing, thinking of where this orange grew, how it found its way to Sainsburys, and was chosen, by me, to come home and be squeezed.

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Thought for the Day

What shall I think about today, I thought, awoken by the sound of wind banging the wind chime on the window pane, a shadow of the waxwing slain.  I could think about what I thought about yesterday, as most days I seem to.  Work stuff.  No, I thought, stuff work.  I love it, and will be doing it all day, the last in a row of eight teaching, and of course will dedicate many thoughts to that but for now, in the quiet of early morning I take a break, step outside to feel the dew beneath my feet.

Boohoo, no dew…but a beautiful view of the gifts in my garden: the hollyhock, the honeysuckle, and the geranium, all given by friends.  Perhaps we shall grow a garden of gifts.  Now that’s a nice thought.  I shall think that thought and as I do their faces come to mind, friends I know and love, the face of the giver when I see or use a gift.  I look in the mirror as I shave with the brush from my son, a present from the past. And even if it were not there all the time, as it is, appears the face of my Beloved as I get dressed in the clothes she gave me.

Gazing around at the richness of life, past memories and future thoughts, I’m filled with gratitude for the present, for this moment that so often slips by unnoticed in the thoughts of yesterday and tomorrow but now, today, this morning, this moment, I am here, surrounded by gifts, alive and present, and feeling creative, excited by insights inciting these thoughts that feed my soul.

Off to work now, a spring in my step, summer in my heart, new thoughts ahead!

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Hello Again Dublin

I first met you in the mid-70s, hanging out with bloodstock breeders of Kilcock who entertained me at a Japanese restaurant where apple pie was on the menu. ‘We like to leave with full bellies,’ they said.  It rained, mostly.

My next visit was some thirty years later and in between times I’d learned Taoist stuff and been invited there to teach.  The No Smoking ban had just come in so the grounds of the Lord Lucan filled up between classes.  I loved the carvery.

My appearance on a TV reality show (Extreme Celebrity Detox) had gone down a storm.  One of the Dublin papers, I think it was the Irish Times but not sure, described me as having the features of an Anglican Bishop – strangely incongruent with genital weightlifting.  And I was recognized by a taxi-driver for my fifteen minutes of fame.

Another ten years go by and I’m back, this time with my beloved Anamarta who has meantime established a following among the women of Dublin, and am now introduced as Anamarta’s partner.  We’ve taught together there a few times, returning each year in springtime to share our Taoist practice.  Oddly enough, it rarely rains during our visit.

Although you have changed in so many way, the things I love remain the same: the hospitality and kindness, from welcome to departure; the craic; the sincere interest in what we are doing, and the willingness to learn.  We love you, Dublin!  See you next time!

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