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Pain and Back (Part 2)

The conversation at the edge of the water-hole between the young man and his old friend continued.

“So, life was wonderful and you felt positive and optimistic after coming out of that old, dark relationship?”

“Yes, until March 1999 when I crashed. Literally; I didn’t notice a small dent on the cycle track as I headed home on my roller blades at dusk. Falling backwards, I kicked my left knee with my right skate and fractured the top of my tibia.

As I lay on a bridge over the river Maas in The Netherlands, a mum, dad and two small daughters came to my aid. Their images were strange, out of focus. But here’s where my ego took center stage. They offered to call an ambulance and that kindness reminded of the pulmonary embolism that invaded my body back in 1994 after an operation to fix a torn Achilles tendon. I hesitated.

Isn’t it wonderful how the ego serves to protect? There was no way I would go to hospital despite its insistence that I should’ve been in intensive care. Laying in pain, I fought the ego and asked the family to guide me home. Surrounding a stranger with love, they helped me stand and with my left leg off the ground, wheeled me two-hundred meters to our door. I never saw them again but can’t shake the feeling they were meant to be there on that unusually warm spring evening.

I went to the hospital the next day after a sleepless night and left with a hip to toe cast with a six-week prescription. I’d had countless sporting injuries before and was slightly happy with this one because work paid me to recover at home with my amazing family and their unfaltering love and light.

Then darkness fell. I didn’t recover as expected and by the time our second son arrived seventeen months later, I was sitting in a wheelchair. A doctor told us to expect no recovery or exit from the wheelchair, and only high doses of opiates would manage the pain. I felt like an outsider to this world, looking in from a distance while our infants grew into toddlers, started school . . .didn’t understand what was happening. The medication placed an uncomfortable blanket over the pain, made me weak and vulnerable. The ego ran riot; everything was about me. I tuned inward into a hostile environment, rarely and only briefly would my true self pop up for air.

My family shared their unconditional love our friends rallied, and during one of those clean air moments, I knew the doctor wasn’t right. My soul shouted and for once I heard the distant wake-up call. But, many more dark days followed, my pay went to half and after twelve months down to zero and we were forced back to the UK. The most painful decision we ever had to make.

Even though we had a second daughter by this time, the world felt like a very exclusive place and I wasn’t a member of the club. Not to mention the pain my partner and our eldest daughter felt. That scared me most of all and silent tears, kept hidden from view, tumbled in frustration and, dare I say it? Self-pity; it was all my fault. There was no bigger picture; I loved my partner and our children but had no love for myself. On the scale of 0 to 100, I vibrated below 20.

The medication wasn’t working, the treatments failed, I developed migraine headaches and with this came more medication. A physiotherapist refused to treat me because I was too sensitive, the pain was too great. Go to this clinic, go to that, no time in the day to do anything but respond to the pain.

A grumpy old man, under forty-five. A leading neurology professor in the UK couldn’t find a cure. Why would he? Nobody could. I was a lost cause living under my blanket of darkness and negativity, surrounded by the love of my family.

Occasionally positive distractions fell into my lap and learning took place. I recognized fifteen years ago where I needed to be today, but health, psychological setbacks and medical interventions and misleading diagnoses kept popping up. Each time they did, new learning took place, and I grew. The light beckoned once more; it had only asked that I consider a few things; including what it felt like to be told that I had MS which was later disproved by one doctor, reasserted by another and disputed by me.

Something odd happened in 2005 when we managed a five-week road trip to the south of France from our home in the north of England. A long trip, over 1400 kilometers each way and, it should have been outside my reach. Regardless of the pain determination became a strong ally. The further south we traveled the lower the pain became. There was no logic to this; it was just the way it was, and I didn’t stop to question the accompanying light.

We bounced back and forth every summer for the next eight years. I looked forward to the respite the holidays brought to the painful existence I suffered during the rest of the year. It didn’t seem logical but deep-down, it didn’t matter.

Most of all, the light forced me back to events before 1995. A theme that festered on my mind. Something, and please don’t ask me to explain, told me to forgive myself for what I became. Also, to forgive the other for allowing her to lead and be led by me into that place of pain and misery buried beneath excuses. It’s strange to think I worked in a caring profession but didn’t do such a great job of caring for myself.

That relationship wasn’t the only debt I needed to pay. Thoughts of constructs in my mind embedded long ago danced their dark tangos. Ask for forgiveness, forgive, move on became a mantra as childhood models of reality crumbled, no longer reality, serving nothing. Was this karmic debt demanding repayment? Surely not all this pain if there’s such a thing as Divine love? I asked for forgiveness, forgave, moved on. I visualized the source of my memories, went face to face with confusion, pain and doubt.

There was another subtle shift too. I took treatments, took the love my family unconditionally gave, until one day I realised that I needed to start giving instead of taking. I became for giving and although it was a long painful process of self-analysis before I could begin to move forward. I forgave myself for the pain my selfishness had brought about in others.

Picture the most stunning sunrise you can. Now, imagine creating minds-eye views of your own painful events and confusing models of reality. Only by doing that would it be possible to ask those concerned for forgiveness and forgive everything that forced me off my divine path into an abyss.

People often say, ‘forgive and forget.’ Through doing just that, slowly things changed. Grounding myself in the present I moved forward. Drawn to writing, speaking and enabling, today, the light is infinite. I’m travelling and guided to the place of my destiny with gifts meant for sharing, not burying in a well of self-pity.

Occasionally, I caught glimpses of my personal power while I was sick, and I knew I needed to live a different life. All I needed was to stay positive and loving, focused, balanced and at peace within. Easy to say, acutely painful to achieve.

A telephone conversation with a stranger informed me I am a healer and, this wasn’t the first time I heard this. That was back in 1995. He blew away the good news though by explaining that while I could heal, I couldn’t heal myself. I believed him. The journey might have been different had I chosen to believe I can heal myself. We all can; as tough as it may seem, we have a choice. We are limitless souls with free-will living in human form.

A psychotherapist* summed up where I am today,

Spiritual work focuses more on what is intrinsically right: how we have infinite resources at the core of our nature that we can cultivate to live more expansively. If psychological work thins the clouds, spiritual work invokes the sun. *

I was in darkness rediscovered the light and despite clouds cast over my life that light never leaves. It’s where I and all of us are meant to be. The learning didn’t follow a curve, rather a series of vertical leaps and the hands of the universe never left my back.

So, if I am to sum up three things you might take away from my beautiful and continuing journey; they are these:

As dark as it may get, the light is always there. The Universe has your back.

If you can’t love yourself, you can’t love anybody. Reach out for peace, love and happiness.

Trust your intuition (Divine Wise-Self); it knows what you need. Be patient, listen and pay special attention if you’re sent a wake-up call.

My experiences may have written stains on the lives of my wonderful partner and our beautiful family. I hope not, rather, I hope I will have left them lessons and a road map that shows how the choices we make can lead to a life of disruption and pain. That has been my path, not theirs although they have blessed and crossed mine. I thought everything was about me when we should follow entirely different paths. Sometimes though, our paths are intricately woven on singular threads.

I ride my mountain bike once more and ski as though the skis never left my feet. My body has healed, my spirit is no longer a shadow of its true self.

The young man took a breath and absently wiped away a tear as he turned to his friend; who had gone. He left with the sunset, reminding the young man that the sun would rise again the next day and every day after.

*Perfect Love, Imperfect Relationships, John Welwood

A Wonderful Place

Vishen Lakhiani, the man who founded Mindvalley came up with a great word to describe rules that can be bent, changed or even completely discarded. That word is Brules and defined as B*** S*** rules. So, with that in mind, I make no apologies for not editing this story and ignoring some basic grammatical Brules. Hope that doesn’t stop you from reading 🙂 S

*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*

Looking out across the savanna, the young man could see giraffes and marveled at their incredible grace and beauty. Far away to his left, the trail of dust left by a herd of wildebeest and zebra drifted and settled in new places. A pair of warthogs splashed in the ever-decreasing water hole after several elephants enjoyed an evening shower before going back to graze in the nearby bush. A flock of starlings appeared to fly into the setting sun.

“You’ve discovered a wonderful place to share a few moments my young friend. What brought you here?”

Before sitting, the older man tested the dead tree by the waterside. Satisfied it would take his weight, he made himself comfortable and indicated a place for his friend.

“Giraffes are on the endangered list for the first time. At least that’s what I read somewhere. But look at them; they seem blissfully unaware of any danger.”

“Humankind is their only real enemy; but I sense you aren’t here to discuss the possible extinction of another beautiful species.”

“You’re right, though concerned, I simply chose this as a place to think and reflect on the day I stepped into the sun.”

“Not literally I hope.”

The young man laughed.

“No, far from it. I suppose I should’ve said, stepped into the light. Yes, that’s a better fit.

Back in the summer of 1995 I was working and living far from the land of my birth. Married with no children, few friends and no life to speak of outside work.

When my workday finished at 10.00 pm on Friday 11 August, I was excited because the car was loaded for a road-trip and two weeks of Psychology seminars at a university in England. After five minutes at the wheel, I crossed from Germany into The Netherlands and noticed a subtle shift in my mood. Difficult to describe except to say that I started feeling light.

The further away from base I drove, the lighter I felt. Interesting too that although I’d given myself more time than I needed for the trip; I had very few breaks, no sleep and didn’t once review the information I had about the Psychology seminars; despite my intention. Whatever had me, made everything seem irrelevant. The feeling was wonderful.

It was early morning, a little after dawn when I decided to take the scenic coastal route from Dover to Brighton. I knew most of the route but had forgotten how beautiful it was. I felt like a child seeing the ocean for the first time.

Still before 8.00 a.m. I turned off the route to an area of dunes and a traffic free space to park, lay out my sleeping bag and take in the clean air. The feeling of light didn’t leave me for an instant; it was so persistent that as tired as my body should’ve been, the thought of sleeping didn’t occur.

Even after arriving at the university, I couldn’t sleep despite having until 6.00 pm to do as I pleased. So, I walked, got to know the block world that was to be my home for the next two weeks and completely forgot to find out where the campus restaurant was.

Fortunately, the man in distress was rescued by a beautiful woman who escorted me to the restaurant and although she had eaten, she offered to keep me company. It was like sitting in a very bright room with the sun in my eyes. I could see her but everybody else was shadowlike.

We found a bench outside afterwards and shared the trivia of our lives before she dug deeper for the things that mattered. I went along happily and not one pause to wonder why until the sides of our hands touched and a dynamic spark exploded through my body.

Not sexual at first but incredibly lustful. Something took hold of me and it wasn’t ever going to let me drift back to the darkness I came from. Somehow, I knew that.

Later that evening, we sat on a hill between the concrete blocks watching the stars and were gifted with the most amazing display of shooting stars either of us had ever seen. Our vibrations were up there with the stars and stayed there throughout the following week.

Something deep inside of me awoke and there was no way I was going to turn my back on it.

Eight months later, she and her amazing one-year old daughter were living with me. Shooting stars never stopped and five-months later, she was pregnant, and our son was born in the following summer, five days after my birthday. What an amazing gift.

I gave up the free accommodation that came with my job and we moved to the nearby Netherlands where we made so many true friends it still brings a tear when I think about their outstanding generosity and friendship.

In March 1999 I crashed. Quite literally; I didn’t notice a small dent on the cycle track as I headed home on my rollerblades at dusk. Falling backwards, I kicked my left knee with my right skate and fractured the top of my tibia.

I’d had a few sporting injuries before that and I was slightly happy with this one because my work paid me to recover at home with my partner and our two amazing children.

Then darkness began to fall. I didn’t recover as expected and by the time our second son was born seventeen months later, I was sitting in a wheelchair. A doctor told us to expect that I wouldn’t recover, and only strong opiates would manage the pain.

My family shared their unconditional love our friends rallied, and I knew the doctor was not going to be right on this occasion. Nevertheless, many dark days followed, my pay went to half and after twelve months down to zero and we were forced back to the UK. The most painful decision we ever had to make and even though we also had a second daughter by this time, the world felt like a very dark place.

I loved my partner and our children but had no love whatsoever for myself. On the scale of 0 to 1000, I think I vibrated below 100.

Positive distractions fell into our laps and learning took place. I recognised fifteen years ago where I need to be today, but minor health setbacks kept popping up. Each time they did, new learning took place and I grew. The light beckoned once more; it had only asked that I consider a few things; including what it felt like to be told that I had MS which was later disproved.

I have always been drawn to writing, speaking, enabling and today, the light is very, very bright and I am drawn and guided to the place I am meant to be.

In his book *Perfect Love, Imperfect Relationships, a psychotherapist called John Welwood summed up where I am today,

“Spiritual work focuses more on what is intrinsically right: how we have infinite resources at the core of our nature that we can cultivate to live more expansively. If psychological work thins the clouds, spiritual work invokes the sun.”

I was in darkness was shown the light and despite clouds cast over my life, that light never leaves. It’s where I and all of us are meant to be. The learning didn’t follow a curve, rather a series of vertical leaps and the hands of the universe never left my back.

So, if I am to sum up three things you might take away from my beautiful and continuing journey; they are these:

As dark as it may get, the light is always there. The Universe has your back

If you can’t love yourself, you can’t love anybody. Reach out for love or above.

Trust your intuition (Divine Wise-Self); it knows what you need. Be patient and listen.”

The young man took a breath and absently wiped away a tear as he turned to his friend; who had gone. He left with the sunset which reminded the young man that the sun would rise again the next day.

Unconditional

Following a dry-stone wall on a beautiful spring day, the old man took a sharp right turn into an enclosure. On first impressions, the young man thought they had stepped into a cemetery until the old man directed his friend toward one of many standing stones. Out of respect for the dead, the young man was careful not to stand on the area in front of each stone. The old man laughed gently.

“There are no corpses beneath this earth my friend.”

“Is this not a cemetery?”

“Look closely.”

The young man glanced around. It was a peaceful, rural location with a few trees showing young leaves. Bluebells covered most of the ground and where they left space, tulips and fresh green grass thrived. A storybook scene; blue sky, comfortable sunshine and a hint of a breeze. A perfect place to meditate or spend time with a friend.

At last, the young mans’ eyes fell upon the closest stone. “It reads like a reminiscence of a particular event.”

“Exactly that. Do you recognize the event described on this stone?”

The young man read the words. Silently at first and then again out-loud.

“She handed him the baby,” the young man hesitated and took a deep breath. “He accepted her carefully and with difficulty. The oxygen tube got in the way, she moved it. Even the weight of a baby not two months old was difficult to hold.”

He swallowed, tearfully and looked at his old friend.

“It reminds me of a life-event. I was in a hospital and spent two months there.”

“Now you are well my young friend. Why does it hurt so much? It’s in the past.”

“Five children under the age of ten and we lived in a house two long bus journeys away from the hospital. Getting them to school and nursery involved four miles of walking, twice each day. The shops were another three miles round trip in the opposite direction. Nobody offered help, not really. So, she gave everything and didn’t give up on ‘us,’ not for a moment.”

Resting a hand on the old mans’ shoulder, he looked into his eyes.

“Why do you punish me with a reminder of this?”

“We all have a space where memories, good, bad and seemingly indifferent reside. This is yours and it was your choice to come here.”

“I wasn’t aware of any choice.”

“They are your memories. It’s up to you to dwell upon them or, take what you can and move on with your life.”

“I felt so guilty and useless laying there.”

“Regardless, she gave you her unconditional love. Accept that, it’s all you need.”

The young man smiled like it might eclipse the sun and faded away into the glow.

A Cliché

“Never give up.” It’s probably one of  the most cliché phrases we see on The Internet, family, friends and colleagues repeat it too. It might be argued that for many, it’s a heavily ‘drummed in’ mantra. Sadly though, people do give up and often rising stars disappear into the back of our memories before they achieved their full ‘stardom.’ Maybe they were never meant to in the first place.

I often remind myself never to give up but the question is; never give up on what? For me, it is the path I am following during this life and it is the only thing I will never give up on. At any time, there are a number of projects that I might be involved with and some of those will eventually be shelved or completely thrown away.

There are things I will never discard, they are simple. I believe in peace and will do whatever I can to promote it. I respect people regardless of their beliefs because we are all universal beings and we have love at our cores. Good or bad, the rest is life.

Wow, there are four sentences in that last paragraph and they are fraught with possibilities of so many interpretations. The third in particular raises a few issues and that’s putting it mildly.

Do I respect terrorists? Pedophiles? Rapists? Donald Trump?

No, I do not. But while some of their behaviors aren’t consistent with my ideas of positive humanity, I still recognize that they are universal beings, albeit with a problem or two. The main one being ‘fear.’

There is no point in delving deeply into the fear of each individual. I can’t do that anyway, I don’t know their circumstances. But I will ask you to spend a few moments considering this idea of ‘fear’ as a motivator for particular behaviors. Like, never giving up.

The fear of failure makes people give up. The fear of putting self in the spotlight. Fear of the unknown. Fear of jumping into the mix with people who one perceives as being highly successful. I could go on all day and not run out of fears. So what motivates fear?

A simple answer to that question is experience. Our ego reminds us of something from our past and we respond to the urges of the ego by giving up. This is why we need to listen to the voice of our intuition, soul, whatever you wish to call it. It knows peace and love, hope, charity, understanding and most of all, it knows the path you need to follow.

The ego does its level best to protect you but all it has is experience and some of that may not be so good. Take racism for example. It’s something that has to be learned from some sort of experience. You may have read that racism is a very negative and hurtful response to people yet experience tells you otherwise.

So, where does the “Never Give Up” mantra fit into this? Simple really. If you have found the quiet yet self-assured voice of your soul, intuition . . . keep listening. If not, listen harder, the voice is there, you can trust it. Never give up on yourself but sometimes you have to let go of people or things that don’t sit comfortably on your path.

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