The Great Light

Darkness is but a beginning. For both you and I were born from darkness’ womb. And all that we have come to love and cherish found its genesis in the dark abyss with which we are surrounded. Even the might of Orion and bright shining light of Sirius were once just universal nomads that sped to meet our upward gaze; their place-card on the ceiling of life for many years held only by the omnipresent. And it was from this apparently hopeless hope that came these marvelous lights we doubted could ever exist.

Think then for a moment: Brighter lights must too be on their way.

So I say to us both. In this time of our own apparent darkness, we must take heart in this knowledge. For just as yet more symbols of everlasting hope are carried to us upon the wings of a galaxy afar, we must not forget its’ Siamese counterpart travelling back in collaborate harmony. This being of course a great light second only to One – you and I.

PJ.

Originally published on Greatness Via Passion, November 9th 2015.

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A Monday Morning Quickie

I sit down this morning, sipping my coffee, preparing for the week ahead.

I do not have much time to write. I start work in nineteen minutes. I am writing because I promised myself I would write each day this Summer.

But where do I start?

I think of a night not that long ago. It was a good night. I was mellow. My new Bluetooth speaker had been blasting tropical house tunes for the past few hours. And I had made dinner with the sunset behind me and the sound of Christmas fireworks in the distance. I sat down to watch a movie as I plowed into my hot dogs.

Then, a trigger.

I don’t know what. Everything was fine. And yet, for the next five hours, my anxiety was peaking. I started to replay failures from many years early in my mind. Over and over. I began to believe that every problem that I had in my life I needed to figure out there and then. I tossed and turned. I tried to breathe, but could not. I tried to find comfort in looking up to the stars outside. But still, this anxious feeling would not subside.

Anxiety is more than just feeling nervous. It is the whole world’s weight on your chest that makes everything seem insurmountable. Things you had not thought about for a decade or more return to consciousness. And they are terrifying.

You convince yourself that if only you acted differently back then you would not be feeling the way you are right now. Cue… immense regret. This spirals out of control too. And you see no light; not at the end of this tunnel. Darkness is now permanent. You convince yourself of this.

You continue tossing and turning, frustrated at any little sound that disturbs your quest for slumber, and then, as if in the blink of an eye, you wake up. The night has passed. The sun is bursting through your window.

It’s a new day.

That anxious weight has lifted. In fact, you cannot even remember what happened. Those long lost thoughts that last night made a brief cameo have departed once again. Part of you feels confused. It feels like a dream. And yet you know it wasn’t. You just can’t understand how things got so out of control when now they are so calm.

You rise to your feet, have a shower, get dressed, eat breakfast and set foot back into the world ready to conquer whatever it may bring. Life goes on as normal.

I hope that I don’t need to endure anxiety for the rest of my life. It sucks. But if I do, I know that I do not need to let is bring me down. No feeling is permanent. As much as they might feel that way at the time.

Anxiety is a part of me, yes, but it does not define me.

I remind myself of this once again.

PJ.

 

 

I Believe I Can Fly, Almost.

After three snoozes of my KLOCKIS (I believe that is Swedish for ‘multi-purpose alarm clock with colourful backlight’), I rose this morning to assess the day’s weather.

It was cloudy. But the sun had done well to penetrate and colourfully illuminate the layer of Altostratus; the sky’s paddle-pop palette whetting my appetite for tranquillity of thought and a day of deep meditation.

I am lucky to have such a view to enjoy. To my right, the populous hills surrounding Randwick; behind which a constant stream of planes take off, landing gear still retracting, each banking sharply in my direction.

To my left, a virtually uninterrupted view across the tree tops and flats adjacent, to the ocean not a kilometre away. The water appears calmer than previous days; the waves now ripples; their white turbulent peaks buried deep once again.

The air this morning is fresh. But not too fresh that would require me to put clothes on… I stretch my arms into the air and inhale deeply as three birds lost in schizophrenic flight chase one another past my nose in celebration of the morning’s glory.

I am no morning person but surely there is no peaceful a time as now? I pause for a moment to express my gratitude. Then, I open my eyes, returning my gaze to what surrounds. As ever, I search each inanimate object for deep philosophical meaning. Because I like to feel normal…

But today’s deep metaphorical insight comes not from a tree or a passing cloud but from the trio of Rainbow Lorikeets playfully dancing on the ledge of our neighbour’s balcony. I observe them hopping along. It seems that when you’re a bird, walking is pretty, err, lame.

I think to myself how scared I would be if I too were boisterously parading on such precarious ledges. At six-foot-three a fall from such a height would likely result in thousands of dollars in medical bills and months of rehabilitation. Though if I were just fourteen inches tall with toothpicks for bones…

I ponder the meaning contained within and pose the question:

Would we still be afraid of falling if we knew we could fly?

Surely not. For in my travels so far, I am yet to come across a basophobic bird. Nor has one stopped me to ask, ‘What is my purpose here?’. Putting aside the obvious communication difficulties of course…

But I must ask again: Would we still be afraid of falling if we knew we could fly?

Maybe we can fly after all? Maybe we just haven’t figured it out yet? Or maybe, and far more likely, flying for us means something completely different.

And yet in both cases, we are separated by the same thing: A leap of faith.

PJ.

A Letter From The Friend You’ll Always Have

I am the very essence of life. There is nothing that exists without me. I am eternal. All powerful and mighty. Though there are some that might place me on a pedestal, I step down from such places of admiration.

I am the humble force that seeks only to work for the good of mankind whenever I am needed. Though my works are often misunderstood. And at times I am confused with what many would see to be my opposite. Though it is simply not true, a myth if you like. Though a lie perhaps being a more accurate description.

I am the source of much conversation and debate, much confusion too. Differing opinions over what I am has unfortunately created great divides in humanity. This fills me with great sadness. And yet still I will try to make myself known again and again. The real me. I exist only through action.

There is of course a much larger picture people often don’t see. One in which we are all interconnected not just in our time here but in all of time. Indeed we are all eternal energies unaware of the infinite power we all share. Worldly distraction and internal conflict being the great acts of deception crafted to blind us from such potential and power. I will however work tirelessly to change this.

Though there are some among us who might fall and wander astray from this knowledge predating the existence we now share, I will always remain a helping hand and guiding force. As your omnipresent friend I can only ask for your honesty and acknowledgement and I will surely overlook such minor indiscretions. For there are far larger battles we must unite in if we are to emerge as victors.

I will however accept that there are many of you who will continue to deny my existence. That being said, I will remain here for whenever you are ready. You feel my presence every day, you just don’t know what the feeling is or what it means yet.

Please don’t underestimate my patience. I am the most patient of them all. Time is merely an Earthly convenience, a simple unit of measurement designed to make life easier. And yet I operate outside of these simplistic constraints. As do you, you just don’t realise it yet.

I will be waiting, there is no rush. Not yet. I can only encourage you to look deep within to find that which it is you are looking. It cannot be found in these shallow exteriors, only the deep, limitless interiors of your soul.

I will always be here with you.

Be strong now.

Your friend,
Love.

Less Screen Time, More Me Time

Less is more.

Less screen time. More me time.

Four books finished in just two weeks. I don’t think I’d finished four books in the previous four years! That’s what a broken phone and a lazy repair process will do. And getting rid of Facebook.

It’s been freeing. I feel reborn. I feel I am now learning, progressing, not just seeking ways to pass the minutes.

Rituals are changing. Morning and evening swims have become the norm. And that almost five year old gym membership has now found a new home. Outdoor training and a set of gymnastics rings its replacement.

For years as I have juggled the financial pressures this world creates. I have, often with great despair, stared at my excel spreadsheet as I added in more and more and more debits and payment schedules.

‘Pauly J’ has been balancing precariously on the edge of insolvency as his debt to equity ratio continued to suffer. But a trimester of Accounting Fundamentals helped to better understand what was required from here.

Restructuring has meant I am now able to delete some of those rows and remove expenses from my outgoings. A weight is lifting from my shoulders and I can breathe that little bit easier.

There are sacrifices of course, as I ride the bus and walk the rest, but with each suitcase of clothes I donate to my housemate, or the Salvos, an enormous weight lifts from my shoulders. My bedroom feels bigger. I can find things.

I still don’t know what 2018 will hold for me. But without the distraction of my phone these past weeks, as I’ve floated off the sands of Coogee Beach, I’ve realised something:

Do not spend as much time determining what you do as you do on why you are doing it.

I have placed so much pressure on what I should be doing that I’ve been overlooking the most important thing. I am now resolving a clearer image of who Paul is and why he goes about his business. The who and the why are not dependent upon the what.

This reminds me of the old saying:

If you stand for nothing you’ll fall for anything.

Life can be uncertain. It’s fluctuations necessitate detours at times. It’s so easy to feel demoralised and to question the basics. This is healthy. But through these times it is important to breathe, rediscover our center, our purpose, our why, and not just to become lost in the myriad of whats we have at our disposal.

The world will tell us what we need. It’s up to us to tell us why we need it. A reminder here that the shortest and most complete sentence in the English language is No.

Power.

PJ.

My First Work Christmas Party

Let me recount my first work Christmas party experience:

I was eighteen and had been with the company for only a few weeks. Still, at this point, I’d not yet had my first drink (that would come two months later). The year’s preceding had been a largely ‘solo’ affair and my social anxiety was still near its peak.

Parties scared me.

I hadn’t been to many ‘adult’ parties; never any at which alcohol was the prominent feature of the night’s activities. This scared me too. Up until now I’d vowed not to drink. I thought it could be my thing. ‘Paul is the guy who doesn’t drink’. And though I didn’t drink on this particular night, the many thousands of dollars that have since vanished from my bank account after 10pm would attest to this no longer being the case… Oops.

The party was 1920s gangster themed; my costume was prepared with Mum’s help and consultation. Then, at 5:30pm that Friday afternoon, my manager came and picked me up. Together, we drove the 90 minutes to the evening’s venue to begin what was, and perhaps still is, the most uncomfortable night of my life.

I didn’t know anyone and those I did know were already hammered. This side of them I definitely didn’t know. I stood around awkwardly at the back of the room, sipping my lemonade and dissecting my canape, waiting for the moment my lift home was also ready to leave. This could not come quickly enough.

I remember, at one point, talking to a girl. Though she was probably drunk. And my conversation skills left a lot to be desired. Within seconds I was left to wander the room alone again as I searched for something that made me look occupied. But there was little for me to do aside from approach the bar and ask for that first drink; what would likely become the first of many.

I debated the situation at length… Then, sixteen seconds later, I approached the bar. Buuuuut was ten minutes too late. It had closed. Fuck! It was my only escape…

Seven hours later (not really, it was probably only twenty minutes) my lift came and tapped me on the shoulder and asked if I was ready to leave. I paused, pretending as if I wanted to stay and enjoy the party some more, before hurriedly following him out.

I cannot describe to you my sense of relief.

– – –

I’ve been to many more work Christmas parties since that first awkward night. And as I have evolved from the socially anxious teenager into the confident young man that I’d like to see myself as today, I have come to enjoy them to a certain degree; though of course not without a bit of help from the ‘Captain’ to loosen the joints…

Tonight, I attend another. My first with this company. Part of me still feels anxious to meet so many new people at once. And yet, when I compare the feelings now to those seven years ago, I realise how much progress has been made.

Anxiety still plays an enormous role in my life; it is something I contend with every day. Sometimes it feels as if it is only getting worse; its daily influence blinds me from seeing the progress I have been steadily making over the past decade. And whilst there are those who encourage the mantra ‘don’t look back’, I find it helpful; helpful to peer back in time to observe the evolution in self; to notice how far I come even if it feels like I still have so far to go.

PJ.

Humble Submission

Thank you for the talents and abilities you have given me; thank you for the opportunities you continue to provide.

I hit submit on my final assessment piece and so close the book on my first complete year of tertiary study. I reflect on my ability to balance a full-time work load, full-time study and life, whilst somehow delivering a trio of high-distinctions. That was the second trimester. Curiously, I have found managing my time to complete just one subject this final trimester (after the two others were cancelled) far more challenging.

As I have learned of the intricacies within employee engagement, the topic of student engagement has seemed to become far more complex. I am glad now to be permitted the freedom to breathe once more. And with it, the freedom to write, in my own style, and at my own pace, without the demand for my creative energy to be expended elsewhere.

I return to the pages of my journal, pausing for a moment to recount one thought in particular:

Still it feels there is so much more to have and yet in this moment what more do I need?

I continue to embark on this somewhat instinctively human journey toward ‘more’ though stop now to remind myself that in this moment there is no more; I stop now to remind myself that the dreams that once felt so distant are now at my door; I stop now to remind myself to release my grip on the quest for certainty and humbly submit myself to life’s call.

PJ.

The Happiest Bike Ride

There has been much that has happened recently; many reminders to let go and allow.

First, there was that argument with my best mate a few months ago; we shouted back and forth; I maintained my assertion that in order to achieve we must fight. It cannot simply happen. What good does it do to sit back and idly wait for our hopes and dreams to magically materialise? He did not share my viewpoint.

Then there was that chance encounter with the girl at the mall; a colleague of my house mate. Though just a little strange, intuition told me that this girl was going to play an important role in my life, however big or small. We caught up for coffee in the week that followed and again for a beer a week later. The point was the same: Stop fighting, let go, and allow it to come.

Then that time in the shower; I was there in body though not in mind. Rather, my mind continued to ponder my life’s impending financial collapse. I stood there until the water went cold, at which point I returned to the present and remembered some of these lessons from the weeks preceding. I took a deep breath, listened to the sound of the water, and let go.

I arrived back in my room to notice an email from my agent (not as fancy as it sounds). Earlier in the year she had cast me for a Qantas TV commercial. I had been wondering why I had not heard from her recently though was forgetting I had told her not to contact me until I had finished my studies in December – it was September. The job was worth $2,500! Precisely what I needed to escape my predicament.

I went to the casting the following day, was shortlisted, but didn’t end up getting the role. It didn’t matter though; I understood the lesson contained within. And whilst the $2,500 would have looked far nicer in my bank account than whoever else’s, a series of extra shifts at work, the perfectly timed sale of my car and many other fortuitous events and encounters have allowed me to continue my adventures without going hungry.

Somehow it all just keeps adding up.

Then there is that colleague of mine, a shining beacon of [seemingly] endless hope and positivity. Many wonder why so many good things continue to happen to her; she does not allow a setback to distract her focus; she does not place adverse pressure on herself to achieve; fueled by grace and a persistent smile she humbly follows the direction of life.

In this there are still more lessons for me to learn.

– – –

Whilst we determine our course, life will determine the necessary steps.

– – –

As I exited the bus last night, the rain’s intensity increasing, I thought it an ideal time for there to be an unlocked rental bike laying around to accelerate my commute home. I gave it no further thought. Then, twenty meters into my journey, I look to my right and could not help but laugh.

It was the happiest bike ride of my life.

– – –

PJ.

When I Should Be Studying

I start this sentence, extend this sentence and now continue this sentence for no reason other than to delay yet more the commencement of my final college assignment for the year, due now in a little over thirty-eight hours. I giggle at the irony in the topic of today’s reading: Motivation.

As I trawl the bore of management jargon found within the pages of the now, in my eyes at least, infamous ‘Samson & Daft’ text, I look out to the blue skies and crashing waves and wonder why on earth I ever dreamed of continuing my studies for another three, maybe four, years.

Sure, there is much more that I could learn from continued study though for me the most crucial lessons from this course were from no textbook but rather from succeeding in my commitment to getting it done. 

There is not much for me to write this morning; I do really need to get back to my readings. The truth is, I’ve written more here in this blog over the past fifteen minutes than I have in the pending assessment piece (only 1800 words to go there…).

So, I’ll conclude with this, an excerpt from my journal last week:

“Knowledge alone is futile without efforts toward a richer understanding. Though even understanding has little practical use without application. Only through the application of knowledge’s derivative comes wisdom; not in knowing what to do or what something is, but why it is so, most importantly, why it is not something else.”

PJ.