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.

 

 

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.

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.

Let It Begin

Today is the 1st of December meaning that today is the first day of Summer! A fitting day to re-commence my writing given the title of my last post!

I have been planning a return to this blog for a while. My drafts folder has grown ever larger as questions pertaining to the quality of my work [and my abilities as a writer] have clouded my confidence.

Self-doubt. What a bitch.

But as I have continued to wonder what 2018 [and my life] have in store for me, I have continued to write. Every day I sit at a cafe, or on the bus, and fill pages and pages and pages in my journal[s] with thoughts and ideas.

It’s simple, really. Writing makes me happy.

It is not just the content nor freedom of thought, it is the way the sounds and syllables combine and contrast to form intricate webs of literature so lush that suitably delights my soul. For me, it is even the feel of the pen as it graces the fibers of each page; the disconnect between my mind and my hand as I watch in awe as the shapes of the letters and words beautify the English language yet more.

I’ve known for a long time that I am meant to write. It is what I feel good at. And it is definitely what I enjoy the most. The frustration I feel when I cannot find the right word, am unable to articulate the right metaphor or fail to identify a third example to satisfy the flow of a sentence (like now), is perhaps evidence of my desire to become better and to really make this my jam.

Though isn’t this the scariest thing? To pursue the thing that could really be our jam? It is so easy to leave it on a pedestal for the rest of our life; to keep it in that comfortable place of ‘I could do that if I wanted to…’. It makes sense too. If all of our other pursuits in life fail there is always ‘that’…

– – –

Before writing here again, I have been waiting for ‘the right time’. To start this new chapter could have been met with more delays. I could have waited until my birthday in three weeks, my 25th Birthday. Surely this would have been an adequate enough milestone to pull my finger out and pursue that which truly means something to me? Or what about the beginning of the New Year? Cliche, yes, but justified. Or perhaps May the 28th? The day that all of my adventures began six years ago? That would have really made sense! No, I’ve got it… August the 10th! The day I fought back from the clutches of suicidal depression and returned to the UK in 2014 to achieve what I said I was going to exactly a year before? Surely that fits best with this renewed feeling of vim and vigour?

Or, if none of these, than surely to begin on my birthday next year, the 26th anniversary of my arrival, would make little sense. So, I guess I would then have to wait until my 30th? Because that seems logical… But supposing I was not ready then either, well, I guess I would then have to start on ‘Monday’, like everyone else.

– – –

Behind these pixels are commitments that I have made to myself for the upcoming year. Over the coming months you will observe the result of these. In many ways I am scared to witness the result of these decisions. I will be putting myself out there; embracing vulnerability; making friends with fear. And yet I know that it is what I must do.

– – –

“Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns and yet still they are fed. Are we not much more valuable than they? Who of us by worrying can add a single hour to our life?”

– – –

On the 22nd of October I wrote in my journal the following:

“The future you seek is not as far away as you might think.

“Harness that vision and make it your reality.

“Be definitive in the steps and decisions you take.

“It goes beyond mere belief now; the time has come to act.

“You are not alone.”

– – –

And so, with this in mind, let it begin.

PJ.

I Really Hate Winter!

I sit down for my morning coffee; before me a stunning view of Sydney Harbour glistening in the sunshine. I start work in 32 minutes so I don’t have much time to piece this blog together. I’ve been meaning to write more (as always) however life has had other ideas…

I’ll start by happily declaring Winter to be officially over! Spring has definitely sprung and the cold depression that was the last three months has frozen to a halt. Will it be my last? I hope so. Year round adventures to maintain my place in a suitably warmer climate are my goal come June next year!

Winter 2017 began with some unfortunate news. It was my first time stepping up from part-time to full-time study and I was nervous as to how this would impact me. These nerves were then compounded when on the first day of the trimester I was called by my employer and advised that my employment was being terminated amid widespread cutbacks (that’s the short version of a very long story!).

I was angry and frustrated and very well aware of the financial strain this would place on me. I wallowed for an hour or two and then resolved to keep marching on. I reminded myself of the many situations similar to this that I had been in in the past that I had endured; situations that had in fact lead me on to far better things!

That afternoon I got a haircut, printed my CV and drove to a shopping center nearby to start my job search. Later that night I began searching Gumtree and Seek, applying for yet more jobs. A week later I had a job trial at a small marketing firm after breezing through the initial interview. It was an amazing opportunity and one that I had been dreaming about for a long time! And I still hadn’t even finished my diploma…

It was a scary day that job trial. I barely slept the night before. And the day seemed to go on forever! I dabbled in many areas of the business and sat down with the owner a number of times to assess my thoughts and feelings on things. We went back and forth, trying to reach an agreement though something within me just didn’t feel right. As great of an opportunity this was on paper it just wasn’t the right one for me.

Back to the drawing board.

I sat down in one of my favourite Coogee cafe’s the morning after to begin following up the other job applications I had sent around. There was one, at a men’s clothing store, from whom I still hadn’t heard back.  I phoned them and within a week I was offered a job. Win.

I never saw myself working in a retail clothing store. Not after five years travelling the world, climbing the ranks to management positions in the fitness world, racing cars and marketing other drivers. It seemed like I plummeted all the way back to ground zero. This has been hard to get my head around and yet it’s allowed me the freedom to focus on my studies. High Distinctions overall in all three of my subjects confirm to me that I’m on the right track.

Let me add to this a note on sacrifice and commitment. Last year I commenced my studies though somewhat reluctantly. I had convinced myself that study wasn’t for me. I vowed never to go to uni. I wanted to be that successful entrepreneur who bypassed ‘the system’. I guess this originated when I dropped out of school six months early. And thus I dropped out of my first four college subjects too with no intention of ever starting again.

These past three months I have felt a level of commitment only felt when I was preparing to go back to the UK to race cars. I had completely resolved in my mind that whatever it took to excel, I was going to do. And I did. And I’m very proud of myself.

This came despite a painful winter, a painful relationship breakup, the painful search for a new job and the painful financial consequences that came alongside. Still there are many challenges that face me in the coming months face and though I do very much hope that I don’t have to fold T-shirts for very much longer, Summer is on it’s way and life is rewarding me in ways that I could never have imagined.

These lessons I am learning are so valuable and though it is hard sometimes, I am very very grateful.

PJ.

How Much Can You Learn From A Trip to Dominos?

I’ve been sick for a few days now. Bound to the couch for the most part. Sleeping excessively. Letting my body catch up and adjust to the rapidly changing seasons. Though still, between naps, my food supply, already rationed, had depleted. It was time to venture out to replenish the pantry.

Of course, I was still too lazy to cook, so a detour to Dominos en route from Woolies was necessary. Returning home, this meant a delicate balancing act was needed for the walk to my flat to transport the four grocery bags and pizza box, with a garlic bread baguette balancing precariously on top.

It took me long enough just to get all of these items in hand to commence the two hundred meter trek. I dreaded having to put everything down at the door to my apartment complex to contend with its awkward outward opening and subsequent three-flight climb to my apartment. Surely at least one egg, or my garlic bread, god forbid, were going to be casualties of this arduous journey.

As I neared the half way point, I decided it best to practice what I have been learning in one of the books I’m reading: Think and Grow Rich. Instead of focusing on the difficulty of the impending task, I decided it best to believe that somehow, someone would be entering the flat complex at exactly the same time thus assisting with this dreaded door. It is worth keeping in mind that in the seven months of living in this complex I had seen my neighbours less than half a dozen times. I accepted that I didn’t need to know how this would happen, I just needed to trust that it would. I took a deep breath and found a place of calm.

The moment drew ever closer and I turned down the final pathway. No one was in sight. I expected someone to be coming in at the same time. But as I arrived at the door no one was in sight. Maybe someone was going to come out? I peered in through the glass: No one. I inhaled deeply and began bending over to place my groceries down whilst closely monitoring the position of my garlic bread.

Then, just as the first bag began to touch the ground, I hear a voice, ‘Don’t worry, I’ll get that for you’. I paused for a moment, thinking that it was coming from the flat complex adjacent. Two or three seconds elapsed in my ponderous amazement before I turned to see if that call had indeed been for me. It had been. Leanne, my neighbour, hurriedly approached the door and opened it for me as I maintained a solid grip on all of my groceries AND, most importantly, my pizza.

This might all seem a little silly. You could say that it was a coincidence, chance or luck. But I would disagree. When you know you know. I have recently become aware of two distinct thought processes that I would typically employ in situations like these.

The first? Wishful thinking. Or attachment to a specific outcome, let’s say. The trap of ‘Wouldn’t it be nice if…’. We don’t genuinely believe that the desired outcome is possible. Instead, it’s place in the fantastical realm remains.

The second thought process feels vastly different and is difficult to explain. But I would describe it as ‘faithful thinking’. It does still maintain the element of desire but, unlike wishful thinking, lets go. It says, ‘Okay, this is what I need right now, but I can do no more.’

We are taught that faith the size of a mustard seed can move mountains. And yet this teaching’s ties with religious origin confuses exactly what this means and detracts from its enormous power. We talk of ‘people of faith’ and people without faith. But what we mean by this is people who identify there to be a ‘higher being’ and people who cannot fathom the possibility. Faith I believe to be independent of this belief.

Faith is stillness. It is not so much about emitting an energy to seek out a desired result but rather calming yourself in order for the required frequency of energy to find you. This stillness, this letting go, is the most important part and is where we will find what it is that we seek.

Let me put it this way: You cannot say you ‘trust’ your partner yet still check their messages and incessantly question them on their whereabouts. This would be silly, right? And yet how many of us still do this not just in relationships but in life?

It is about letting go.

These lessons I have only recently learnt. Just three weeks ago I found myself in an argument in which I stood firmly on the opposing side of this philosophical position. Though as I am beginning to practice what I am now learning more and more I am very quickly changing my perspective and am excited to share with you some of the amazing outcomes. On this occasion it saved me a garlic bread (win!) but I’ve no doubt over the coming years it will save me a lot more.

What could it do for you?

PJ.