Thank God The World Didn’t End, I’ve Still Got A Whole Lot Of Living To Do

That’s today’s view from my window.   Peaceful.

So the world didn’t end, huh.  Not that I expected it to.  I must admit I feel a degree of triumph verging on unsavory spitefulness at all the gloom and doom prophets who predicted that we were so bad, so irretrievably monstrous, ill-behaved and irresponsible that we’d brought it on our own heads anyway. Serve us right.

Funny how these predictions that people who lived a million years ago allegedly made bring out the worst in spiritual frauds.  A lot of people point fingers at fundamentalist Christians and Muslims for their wild and punishing interpretations of the Bible and the Koran but this Mayan thing brought a lot of fundamentalists from other religious disciplines too.

I don’t what it is about Bhuddism and eastern religions that makes us in the west instinctively believe that anybody who subscribes to them is automatically elevated into the saintly category of humans, the Enlightened Ones.  It seems that if you meditate you can do no wrong.  I’ve always found it irritating.  Because meditation is just a certain kind of discipline.

And like all disciplines it can be used to face the core of who you are, and it can just as easily be used to escape that truth, especially when it’s uncomfortable.  Denial wrapped in a mantle of holiness.   I’ve known of a guru or two who were as neurotic as any other kind of fundamentalist, Christian or Muslim.

I know one in particular from the west who embraced eastern disciplines and now seems to spend most of his time pointing fingers at practically the whole human race and focusing on what everybody else is doing wrong.   Meditation doesn’t seem to have filled him with love for the human race and forgiveness for our fallibility.  I suspect that at the core of everything he’s avoiding a lot of unresolved hurt and rage of his own, and just projecting it.

He seemed to relish the idea of how much punishment is waiting in the wings for all us sinners   who had strayed so far from the simple core of who we are that we’re destroying ourselves and the earth with our greed and refusal to be responsible.  He’s made many dire predictions over the last year that the end was in sight. Whether he was referring to the Mayan thing or not I don’t know.

I wonder how many disappointed people there were, as yesterday drew to a close.  What kind of person hopes that the whole world will implode, hopes that massive suffering befalls billions of humans, adults, children, really old, frail people, animals?  Phew.  The mind boggles.

I’m rather glad the world didn’t end yesterday.  I haven’t learned to ride a horse properly yet, my piano playing isn’t as good as I want it to be, I’ve got three film scripts I need to edit and get out into the market, an e-book that’s nearly done, a crime novel to write and a bio about how the biggest crisis in my life opened the door to life for me.

And I haven’t sung with Michael Buble yet, or taken the train across Siberia in winter; walked the Great Wall of China, seen the Norwegian Fjords, reacquainted myself with the violin and with Florence, Venice, London, the US.  Haven’t flown in a hot air balloon or a helicopter, worn Armani, Chanel and Dior.  Or been on Oprah.  And that’s just a few things on my list.  Living my life my way.

So all you gloomy and doomy people, if you want to die cataclysmically, hey, be my guest.  But I’ve got a whole lot of living still to do.

Btw I’m not knocking meditation or eastern religions.  For some original and inspiring insights into both visit http://drunkenmystic.wordpress.com or visit Drunken Mystic on Searchwarp.com (the link will take you to one of his articles there.  There are many.  He’s a really great guy.)

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It’s a Dog’s Life, or is it a Banker’s Life? Neither, It’s My Life

I’ve often thought it’s a dog’s life, and used to think it was a banker’s life, too.  Since I don’t have a photo of either a dog or a banker, but I do have this one I took of a gull, it will have to do.  Today I passed a bank I used to bank with, whose culture I despise.   Take as much as you can, make the client feel like a jerk.  Bully Power.  They’re an old boys’ club institution and happily fork out for men who were at the right schools.

I didn’t quite fit in.  Anyway, I did it without them, but all the money I earned went through them, so they had records of my achievements.  But staff were always horrid to me, unfriendly, unhelpful.   Well, after three years of being pretty successful, I bought land for the first time in my life.  It was very exciting.  My overheads skyrocketed, but I believed I could afford it.  It wasn’t huge money in the grander scheme of things but it was for me.

Then my business hit the skids.  Bad timing.  The bank begrudgingly allowed me a bit of credit.  My bad, I used it.  I didn’t have a clue my business was dying a quick death.   By the time I did, my monthly mortgage and overdraft payments were terrifying.  I had no money coming in.  I thought of a new business, to open an art gallery.

My plan was solid, I didn’t need operating capital, I found a gorgeous venue where the management promised me 6 months rent free.   All I wanted the bank to do was to give me a moratorium so that I could get my business going, and pay them back in full.  I’d already proved to them I could build something from nothing.

They disdainfully showed me the middle finger.  I begged them to give me a chance.  They  handed me over to their legal buggers.  From then on it was breakfast lunch and dinner with the sharks.  I got harassed mercilessly and didn’t have the skills or inner strength to deal with it.  I was treated like a criminal.

It wasn’t much fun.  I held it together for almost a year, despite that the venue management reneged on their rent deal and all sorts of other grim and ghastly things happened.   But in the end I folded, and eventually lost everything, and they lost their money.

Serve them bloody right.  Of course I don’t bank with them any more.  I didn’t used to be able to even think about this without being consumed with rage and hurt and a sense of utter, debilitating powerlessness.  But as I walked past them today I realized – I’m bloody over it!   It’s taken me eight years to recover and rebuild myself on the inside but holy guacamole* I’ve done it and deep within me I feel a security I’ve never known throughout my whole life.

Best of all, I haven’t just recovered from that crisis, I’ve recovered what I lost as a child, and that feels priceless to me.  I don’t regret any of it, because of what I’ve gained.  It’s true, your worst enemies sometimes end up being your biggest gift.   It doesn’t mean you ever have to like them, though.   Well, I don’t and I’ll never deal with them again.

But I don’t desire or need to punish anybody any more.  I don’t want revenge or justice.  Because I’ve got my life back, bigger and better than before.  It’s a nice feeling.

* holy guacamole – I have to acknowledge this isn’t mine.  I first heard it from Gregory Lewis.  Find him on FaceBook or Search.com

Don’t Rain On My Parade – Playing Piano In The Zone

Don’t tell me not to fly, I simply got to  /  If someone takes a spill, it’s me and not you
Who told you you’re allowed to rain on my parade

I love that song written by Jule Styne and Bob Merrill, the words just light up the world and all it’s possibilities for me.  Don’t rain on my parade. I used to let people do it a lot;  didn’t know I had any control.  They didn’t completely stop me doing what I wanted to do, but they took the pleasure out of it, and the times I landed on my face were all the more painful for it.  I told you so.

Of course it’s not just the bullies on the outside who do the damage.  Mostly it’s the ones on the inside.  The enemy within, and I’ve had a whole army of them to disarm.   Imagine an army of Harry Potter’s Dementors living right inside your head.  Times when they’ve been the most powerful and destructive have been when I’ve really applied myself to something meaningful in my quest to claim my life – and am succeeding.

I’ve realized lately that those times have been the ones when I’ve been addicted to something. In one period of my life I was addicted to food, just couldn’t stop myself eating, couldn’t stay away from the fridge.  For years I didn’t know what hunger was because I was always full.  It was terrifying, the almost vengeful power of a deep longing that consumed me.  Food would satiate it while I was eating, and then I’d be flooded with relief.  But as soon as the food was finished the panic and longing would overwhelm me again.  Thank god those days are over.  No more addictions, no more Harry Potter Dementors living in my head.

And very few bullies and spoilers in my life.  Now when they try I (metaphorically) show them three fingers and say read between the lines.  I’m really giving them the middle finger, but I’ve got plausible deniability.  And I can’t tell a lie.  That one isn’t mine, it’s a Charlie Sheen line from Two and a Half Men.  Poor guy, living in his own hell, addicted to crack cocaine, in rabid denial.   Glad I don’t have his demons.   Glad I never tried crack.

Yesterday I spent the day playing the piano, altering a new dress I bought, and listening to Barbara Streisand, Billy Joel, Bette Midler and Johan Sebastian Bach.  Letting myself be. Playing piano always releases something I can’t even describe.  My whole body comes alive and life makes perfect sense.  My vision for life looks clear, and my imagination roams wild.   I see life as the big, grand thing that it actually is when there aren’t any spoilers and bullies around.   Sometimes thoughts pass on by, sometimes I get real insight into things I’ve been wrestling with.  It’s a kind of meditation, I guess but with masses of energy being generated.

Alive in the zone.  Timeless.  It’s a place where nobody can rain on my parade.  Feels pretty damn good.

My Life by Billy Joel – His Words Still Work for Me

Bought a Billy Joel CD today, 52nd Street.  Smart guy, Billy Joel.  The song that just grabbed me is My Life.  This is what he looks like now – pretty cool, I think.  The photo is from Wikepedia.

Doesn’t that just look like a man who’s followed his heart?  These are some of the words of My Life.

I don’t need you to worry for me cause I’m alright / I don’t need you to tell me it’s time to come home  /  I don’t care what you say any more, this is my life  /  Go ahead with your own life and leave me alone  /  They will tell you you can’t sleep alone in a strange place  /  And they’ll tell you can’t sleep with somebody else  /  Ah, but sooner or later you sleep in your own space  /  Either way it’s okay you wake up with yourself.

I never said you had to offer me a second chance  /  I never said I was a victim of circumstance  /  I still belong, don’t get me wrong  /  And you can speak your mind  /  But not on my time

He was born in the Bronx on May 9 1949, and brought up in Hicksville.  It’s ironic that he of all people should have come from a place called Hicksville. The word can mean a small rural, fairly backwards town.  But in this case it’s a place in New York – with a pretty interesting history.  Valentine Hicks, son-in-law of Elias Hicks, a famous Quaker preacher and abolitionist, bought some land in 1834 and turned it into a station stop in 1837.  Eventually it became a bustling New York City suburb.

But back to Billy Joel.  His father, the son of a German-Jewish merchant, was born in Germany who emigrated to Switzerland and later the US because of the Nazis.   He’ was an accomplished c lassical pianist and Billy took lessons at a young age – but very reluctantly at first.  But his interest in music way overpowered any interest in sports, for which he was bullied and teased at school.  He took up boxing to learn how to defend himself and was pretty successful on the amateur Golden Gloves circuit.  But he gave it up when his nose was broken!

At 14 he heard the Beatles, and joined The Echoes. Their success in New York made him sure he wanted to be a professional musician. He attended Hicksville High School but didn’t graduate, because on the day of an important English exam he overslept, having played at a piano bar the night before.  So he left school without a diploma, and said to hell with it, if he couldn’t go to Columbia University he’d go to Columbia Records!

His high school diploma was finally awarded to him in 1975, and he has six honorary doctorates to his name now.  He “retired” from pop recording in 1993, although he did a series of tours – called “Face to Face” with Elton John, the last of which was in March last year.  They were the longest running and most successful concert tandem in pop music history.  Not surprising.

Billy Joel’s always going to have a place in my heart.  I absolutely love the way he sings and plays, and the words – well, they still work for me, probably always will.