Embrace me

Yesterday I went to town and took the train home.  At the station I narrowly escaped being mangled to death by giant 2 m high persecuting toll gate with reinforced steel bars revolving in v. narrow booth.  I thought I was supposed to slip in, but when I did I realized it was revolving much faster than I could move.  All hell broke loose.  I slipped, and all I can remember is a tangled blur of limbs and steel bars and being smashed against the booth wall, wrist caught in between bars, spine between booth and bars.  And shrieking, yelling obscenities.  Whoo boy.

The guards stopped the death-trap in time.  No broken bones.  In a daze I wandered off and caught the wrong train, ending up in poverty-stricken, depressed area, where had to wait for train back to the city.  Scary thug-like drunken men leering at me.  Eventually got home muttering imprecations.

4 am: woke up to black cloud hovering over head in apartment.  4.30 am: realized was inner pig critical voice (ICPV) in clever disguise.  4.31 am: further realized was attempting to converse with ICPV – alias Black Cloud – building massive legal case for self defense, which Black Cloud wasn’t moved by.  I wrestling mightily against prevailing winds of gloom and doom.  Conversation went something like this.

Black Cloud: [heavy, disapproving, critical, judgmental – anything you can think of that belongs on the dark side of the moon] You’re an idiot, disorganized, ill-disciplined, lazy, unsocialised, unrealistic, can’t sing, hopeless script-writer, pathetic blogger, non-existent author, you don’t work hard enough, you should be making more money what’s wrong with you [accusatory statement, not a question] your life is never going to pan out because let’s face it you’re not good enough.  And anyway you’re too old.  And totally insane, talking to clouds that don’t even exist except in your head.

Me: But, um – uh – well – [excellent legal argument, carrying great mitigating weight]

No need to go on.  4.31 am: remembered make love not war, wondered if I should try it on Black Cloud.  5.00 am: peace-making efforts no more successful than legal case for self defense.  5.01 am: shot self in head.  Actually, got up and had some hot cocoa and said to everybody and nobody in particular fuckit.  What’s that song by Van Morrison?  There’ll be days like this. No kidding, Van.

Notwithstanding which, I’m on the hunt for a decent quality computer microphone today, and continuing my search for a mentor who can hold my hand with love and lead me on.  Am sticking stubbornly to this.  Have already approached a gazillion people, some of them teachers, none of them could give me what I wanted.  So now I get advice, well, it’s not meant to be, maybe you just don’t want to take your own power.  All that crap.  Rubbish.  You know the saying you get what you ask for?   So if it isn’t what you really want, you get clearer about that.  You lay claim to it.

That’s all it is.  I know what I want, in every cell of my being.  Can’t stop searching for what I want because I haven’t managed to draw it into my world yet.  I want that mentor.  So Michelle Maxwell didn’t get back to me.  I’ll phone agent to find out more.  There’s another vocalist here, Danielle Pasqual, who sings like Edit Piaf.  Quite daunting, I don’t have a voice like that, but apparently she’s gorgeous, older woman, v. warm, v. embracing.

So my future mentor / mentoress, embrace me, I’m ready.  Until you do, I’ll keep on trucking anyway.

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On the Road Again

When I started singing again – 7 years ago? – after a million zillion years of not doing it I was going to go for it – I learned over a hundred jazz standards, wrote all the music out, learned basic (very basic!) jazz piano.  Got some good feedback from some people, but every time I ventured out to sing for somebody I didn’t know, fear utterly paralyzed me and I couldn’t sing.

It was weird, I went to a nightclub on open-mic night, walked in, looked at the stage – and got diarrhea.   To cut a long story short, I couldn’t get through the fear.  Plus I was trying to recover from being plastered all over the metaphorical pavement, trying to pick up all my body and soul bits and piece them together.   It was too much.   I wasn’t ready.

I backed away.   Needed some distance.   I didn’t completely stop, I’ve been singing at home, and the strange thing is my singing has improved.  I’m more confident in myself; I’m not so scared any more.   I’m more integrated, not splattered all over the place.   It’s taken time, that’s all.

Now I just got a possibly sustainable online job, which won’t make me a fortune, but it’ll bring in enough to pay my way, buy proper food and pay for lessons again.  Fix my car, buy music, because I hardly have anything.  You have to listen a lot if you want to sing, watch videos, listen to people live.  All of that costs money.  People never think about what’s involved in making your dream come true.  The truth is you have to experience the world of it with all your senses.  The more you do, the more awakens in you.

So here I am on the singing road again.  The road less travelled.   Exactly, it’s less travelled by me than I like.  I need and want to travel it a whole lot more.  So, I want to say thanks to that beautiful young woman on America’s Got Talent.  She inspired me, re-affirmed for me that there’s a time to back away, and there’s a time to re-engage.

Swimming against a rip tide

I look forward to the day that I’ve climbed right out of this pit I fell into by virtue of my ignorance.   It seems like a money pit sometimes but at others I believe money’s just the symptom of a crisis provoked by a belief of being worthless and a terror of being abandoned with no food and no place to live.  The terror was alive within me all my life.  Beyond that it was about fear of becoming vulnerable and having to ask for help – which in itself was about fear of being punished beyond an endurable threshold of emotional pain, and re-experiencing the emotional punishment I was subjected to as a child.

So that’s what it’s all really about.  Money’s got nothing to do with it.  Hard to accept sometimes.  Like today.

Today I equate getting out of the pit with trying to swim against a powerful rip tide when all you know how to do is doggy paddle and you’re scared of water.

The thing is, you’re swimming towards a giant prize, and there’s nothing in the world that can make you give up on that.   Freedom from persecution and abuse.  Freedom of speech, freedom to have a home, warm clothes, nourishing food, education and decent-paying work, back-up and support.  Freedom to have a meaningful life, career, relationships.

It’s a Maslow’s hierarchy of needs all in one, a Personal Constitution, a Bill of Rights.  The truth, I think, is that if all those rights were taken from you as a child, then as an adult you give them away because you don’t know any better.  When you hit a crisis, no matter what, whether it’s money,  relationship or career, you’re faced with the reality of how much you give away, how much you still believe the Rights aren’t yours.  That’s when you start claiming them.  For the first time in your life.

I wrote an article on a young American who had $27.65 in his account, and was worrying how he was going to pay his utility bills; have his missing front teeth replaced; and repay the $1,000 he owed a friend.  The next day he had $285 million.

Won the lottery of course.  Seems like a fairy tale, and he certainly thought it was.  You can be sure some part of me felt a bit wistful.  I don’t long for that amount, it’s kind of meaningless to me.  But I long for enough to survive decently until I start earning.   I long for support to enable a grace period so that I can learn whatever I need to learn.

Who knows what the money will do for that man.  I’ve known a lot of people who thought money was their problem who then inherited and it didn’t solve a thing.  Not a thing.  Weird – the money had no power at all.  So it probably wouldn’t solve anything for me.  Understatement of the century.  Better by far to be able to earn my own, that’s what I really want.   That’s what the grace period longing is about, to make sure that I can get there.

So until it happens, I’ll keep on swimming against that rip tide, holding my head up above the water.  One day either the tide will turn or I’ll be such a darn good swimmer that I’ll cut right through it.

“Imagination…is the preview of life’s coming attractions” (Einstein)

Jean Horst, who owns SearchWarp.com with her husband Bruce, wrote an interesting article yesterday, about how we can look at something and not see it for what it is.  She spoke of a mis-spelling that’s been on the front page of SW for over a year, and she just didn’t see it!  And from there she wrote of how much polarization there is in the world, because people can’t or don’t want to open their minds to the perspective of others.

We don’t always see what is, we see our preconceptions.  I hold onto mine because they’re what I know.  When the world feels unsafe, or doesn’t make sense, or I feel threatened, some part of my brain seeks an explanation, seeks something that it can register as knowledge.

The nature of the explanation isn’t the part that makes me feel safe, it’s the familiarity of it.  Familiarity makes us feel safe at a primal level.  It doesn’t actually make us safe – in fact quite often it leads to our destruction or that of society at large.

Take low self esteem: I can grow up believing I’m worthless.   If the idea has been well enough entrenched, then in later life somebody can tell me I have value and I’ll resist them, I’ll think they’re lying or are just trying to make me feel better, or have an ulterior motive.   Yet the idea that I’m worthless makes my life a nightmare, makes it very painful and uncomfortable.  You’d think I’d do everything in my power to change it.

Here’s the weird thing: even when I am doing everything in my power to change it, some part of me resists the change.  I remember the day I saw that clearly for the first time – that there’s a part of me that is desperate to change, and a part that refuses to do it.

I look outside today: it’s sunny, warm, no wind.  The sky is that beautiful pale blue of early autumn, the ocean quietly frothing where it breaks on the rocks at the shore.  I’ve just had breakfast, I have the whole day ahead of me.  I’ve recently completed the 2nd draft of my 2nd film script, I have a blog that’s beginning to be read, I’m developing readership at SearchWarp and elsewhere.  I’ve started on my crime novel.  Yesterday I practiced the piano.  I’m not making much progess at the moment but I’m not losing ground either.  I’m developing a small business that I believe can sustain me until my writing brings in money.  I have money to buy food for the next 20 days and my rent is paid up until the end of the month.

I’m developing meaningful relationships with quite a wide variety of people, all over the world.  In reality my life is opening up.

On the other side, these last two and a half months I thought I could create something with internet marketing that would be earning me something by now.  That hasn’t happened, and I’m not sure whether I’ve just been wasting my time – and the 2 months’ money I got from selling a painting.   I have no way of knowing, all I can do is keep on going and presume – or hope – that I’ll find my way.  But it might take me six months, and I don’t know what I’ll do for money in that time.

That insecurity and the fear is enough to make me cling to the old idea, the one I’m most familiar with, that says things can’t work out for me because I’m too worthless.  Even though that idea makes me want to go and blow my brains out!

Why would I want to believe I won’t be able to access money – either through work or support?  The idea completely terrorizes me, gives me nightmares, messes up my digestive system, interrupts my creativity, turns my brain to mush.

On the other hand, if I can believe I’m safe, I’ve got time, I’ll find the money I need, I’ll be able to do the work I need to do and learn along the way – then my day couldn’t be more perfect.  I’m happy, I work well, I eat well, I sleep well.  I’m organized, I’m focused.

Truth is, neither of the two ideas – that I will access money and that I won’t – is a reality today.   So why choose the one that makes my day a nightmare?

Because it’s scary not to know where money’s coming from and in that place of insecurity I instinctively grab for anything that’s familiar.  I’m familiar with the idea that I won’t access support.

So the challenge isn’t just to go and find money (although that’s important)  The challenge is also to resist the idea that I won’t find it (the idea I’m familiar with) and build on the newer idea, that things are changing, that everything is going right, that I can have financial independence and the life I’ve always dreamed of.  That I can have fulfillment and a success that’s meaningful to me.  That I’ll be able to access the money that I need.  I’m not sitting on my bum, I’m working hard, why wouldn’t I deserve support?

The more I resist the old and build on the new, the more familiar I become with the new.

One day it’s going to be the stronger idea.  One day I’ll instinctively accept it when challenge arises.  Until that day, I’ve got my work cut out for me.  Persistence, that’s all it is.  You just don’t give up.  I was thinking this morning, that persistence isn’t about not wanting to give up.  Please.  You want to give up all the time!  It’s about not giving in to that desire.  Just like courage isn’t about the absence of fear, it’s about acting in the face of fear.

Einsein said “It’s not that I’m so smart, it’s just that I stay with problems longer”.

He also said “Imagination is everything. It is the preview of life’s coming attractions”.  So that’s another reason for not giving into the old idea.  I’ve got the option of two previews: when it comes to the old idea and the new idea, it’s just my imagination that’s at work.  And I may not have had two ideas to choose from before, but I do now.

So let me be accountable for the preview I choose.  Let me fly in the face of my primal instinct, and choose the one that makes me feel alive and gives me prospect.

I’ve already lived the movie from the lousy preview.  Don’t need to see it again.   Stepping out of history here.

I’d be a fool not to dream

In these days where flash floods of doubt sweep me off my feet, I keep seeing or hearing the words “don’t give up”.  They’re like small beacons of light, and no matter how murky it gets, they shine out unexpectedly, just when I need them the most.  Imagine fireflies on a dark night where there’s no moon.

Last night somebody was singing a song “do whatever it takes to hold on.  Things will change”.  I didn’t even register the words at first, then they sank in, like a voice calling out from far away.

This is what I think.  If you’ve got dreams that you haven’t been able to realise, you have to deal with the stuff within you that’s got in the way.  There’s no getting around it, no easy way out, no drugs you can take, no anaesthetic, no mantra you can say.  Truth is truth.  You can’t ignore it if you want your life to change for the better.   Mostly that’s about entitlement, it’s about knowing you deserve a life that makes sense to you and is fulfilling and exciting to you.  Knowing you are loveable at a very deep place way beyond your intellect.  Right in your heart and soul.

Big dreams need big entitlement.  I have spectacular dreams, ergo I have a spectacular amount of change to embrace.  Takes time.  The time it’s taking isn’t a sign that I’m an idiot or that it can’t happen for me, it’s a sign of how much I want.

Building a foundation for my good life.  Sticking my middle finger up at all the inner messages that say my life is over, who do I think I am, I live in a fantasy world.  Most of all, they say that I’m a fool to desire, to dream.

No I’m not.  No matter how hard it gets, no matter how real the “evidence” seems to be that the change I long for isn’t happening, I’m not a fool to dream.

I’d be a fool not to.

Emotions and beliefs are the tools for not giving up

Here’s the kind of miraculous aspect to searching for solution.  It’s happened over and over to me, in small ways and big ones, in purely material things and things more profound.

If you grew up in an environment where you didn’t see solution being reached –  among family or in your own life – you don’t have a frame of reference for knowing how to go looking for what you need, or that solution even exists.  Often you don’t even know how to define it.  Definitely you don’t know you’re allowed to have something better.

So when you find yourself in an unsatisfactory situation, you don’t know how to get out, or that it’s even possible.   But here’s the kind of miracle: you don’t need that knowledge at first.  All you need is the belief that there is something better for you, and your emotions and a willingness to accept the truth of them (i.e. not run from them).  They lead you to what you need so that you can take the next step towards getting out of your situation.

Think about being in a bad job or relationship.  We stay until we can’t take it any more – if we let ourselves feel – and until we realise there is something better for us.  It’s the unbearableness of the pain that motivates us to leave and find that something better.  Tyrannies are overthrown when the people get angry enough to do something to protect themselves, and when they realise they have the right.

It’s working for me, anyway.   My emotions and my beliefs are my tools for moving forward even when I’m not sure what exactly to do – and for not giving up.   When I feel strongly it’s only because I need something.  If I listen, I instinctively nose around towards that need, because the emotion is uncomfortable.  I need the belief that there is solution or something better for me, so that I’ll push through the discomfort and not give up.

It’s taken a long time to be able to put this into practice.   Six years.   And I’m 55 now.   Sometimes I’m sore and angry about that, and sometimes it scares me – but that’s always about the questions “am I a fool” or “does it mean that time has been wasted” or “is there enough time now”.  Once I clear that up, and get back on track, I’m pretty excited about life and the potential that lies ahead of me.

If it’s taken me 55 years to get here, well then, here I am.  And I have the rest of my life ahead of me.  I started out with pretty shocking self-esteem, lousy entitlement, inadequate how-to’s.   Judging by my history my life was never going to amount to anything.

What chance would I have had of turning that around if I’d shrugged my shoulders and said “oh well, but what can you do?”

Perish the thought.