Prisoner

What is that noise?

“Get me out!”

Where am I? What’s that banging?

“Ya can’t keep me here, wake up!”

My head throbs. The night light cuts through my eyelids. I’m wet. I drag myself up onto one elbow. It almost slips off the shelf. A thin blue plastic mattress holds my weight. Its wet, too.

There’s a kid stood next to the door. “Who the fuck are you?” I say.

“Who the fuck do you think?” He turns and continues to assault the cell door. “This is your mess, get us fucking out of here.”

“My mess, how?” I scan the old familiar surroundings.

“You should have brayed the bitch.”

“Who?” I ask.

“Mary, who else?” He laughs.

Memory banks fire up as it floods back in. Fuck’s sake, not again!

I remember shouting through her letter box, wrestling with the new bloke. Out in the street, neighbours fully present, digging a key bumper to bumper along his paintwork.

Head still throbbing.

“And him, that goon with the motor, look what he’s done to your face.”

Stroking my cheekbone, yep, it’s sore alright.

A burst of energy. Depressed adrenaline. Quickly covering the nine feet as I hit the buzzer. A moment or two passes before the hatch drops.

A partial face, mainly lips, “Sleep well, did we?”

“What’s there a kid doing in here?”

He laughs, “It be pink elephants next sunshine, needing a little drink are we?” His wrist flicks back and forth in glass guzzling imitation. “No need to act the loon, the desk Sargent will see you soon enough.” He slams the hatch, “You be out before the pubs open.” His parting shot echoes through the steel door.

“Another fine mess,” I say out loud to nobody in particular.

“What about me?” Says the kid.

I look him up and down. Real enough. Look’s almost familiar. I head back to the bench and drop down hard onto my backside. And finally, it comes to me; after all this time, it makes perfect sense. The drink, the drugs, violence, sick sex, every conflict and disturbance. The separation and isolation. All him!

“I know who you are,” I say.

A tear carves a channel down his cheek, “Really?” He replies. “At last, so tell me where from?”

Furious, Im up pacing the confines. I hurl words that cut; reminded of every train crash disaster, I give him both barrels, sparing nothing.

Finished, I slump down to the cold floor, exhausted.

“I should never have listened to you,” I sob uncontrollably.

He stares impassively. A child. His turn; a wordless response, living pictures in my head. I see the laughter and the love, curiosity and innocence, a connection and direction.

“Where from?” He repeats.

“You’ve alway been here.”

He nods, “Right from the beginning, when God walked you out of the void.” He looks up at the ceiling and spins round a full circle, “Im the guide He assigned.”

“Then why all the fucking mess?” I shout.

The night light flickers, buzzing, before shrouding the room with darkness. I see two kids. Laughing. Playing. I sense something wrong. An evil. A temptation. One kid senses it too. He moves towards it, entranced. I want to scream at him to wait, stop, don’t follow it, something’s wrong. He won’t listen, can’t see the danger.

“You had to chase after them, didn’t you?”

“What! Who?” I shout.

He shrugs his shoulders and says, “All of them, every experience, every situation good and bad, you wanted it all.” He laughs out loud, “It was a buzz when they wanted you, but how’d it feel when they ditched you for something new?”

“You encouraged it,” I reply.

“Not so,” he laughs. Heading back towards the door, he knocks gently on the steel plate, “You made me their prisoner. I foretold the outcome.”

“What type of guide is that,” I ask, curling my knees up to my chest, burying my head.

“Mysterious ways type of guide that’s what. I don’t get to ask and neither do you. There was only one bite of the apple, but always two choices.” He sits down next to me and the night light buzzes its way back to life. The door unlocks. “Lets go Rocky,” says the cop. “Time to leave.”

Sunlight stings my eyes as I exit the police station. The kid reaches up and takes my hand.

“Pub then is it?” he says.

Shaking my head as I reply, “What with them crazy bastards, all that performing, no thanks.”

He smiles and squeezes my hand, “Hows about an ice cream?”

Yeah… that sounds good to me.

“And them, what about them?”

“I dunno, maybe its time we learned to love ourselves first and leave others to live their own lives.”

“Ah that type of knowledge is worth a fall,” he states, “Onwards, you lead the way.”

“Really?”

“Certainly,” he laughs, “You’ve earned it.”


“Emancipate yourself from mental slavery” ~ Bob Marley

“Take off the E and let it Go” ~ Unknown

“I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you visited me” ~ Matt – 25:36

D&O in Fresno

Circadian Fall

I sit at the table, order a scotch and light a smoke. The barman knows me, “don’t be calling me son again, mister! Whiskey is it?” The room half full. Deadbeats and alkys line the walls. They search for anything to wake them from their shitkicking existence. A sudden surge of pleasure is all that’s needed to make them forget. As for me? I’m only here to see her. My need is for her to recognise me, to remember how it was, before it all went separate.

The light fades while the curtain goes back. A tree stands centre stage caught in the spotlight. Drums beat, and she makes her way out in front of the crowd; naked as the first time I laid eyes on her. This nest of losers stare silently spellbound. The dance enchants and seduces them. They drool as she rolls herself around the tree, the snake slides down; it stares into her eyes.

“Looking for anybody in particular?” A huge black guy leans on the chair to my left, “Bubba Pimp, I know everything there is to know about the whoring business.” He nods towards a dark corner of the room where some scantly clad twenty something fakes a smile and strokes her crotch. I turn my attention back to the stage, “how much for her?”

Im going to tell you a story; before I forget. You see, a Man can live a whole day in a story, a lifetime, many lives, to make one story, and then forget. Climb out of bed to a history he can’t remember. Thrown into a day he neither foretold nor requested. And that’s how my story goes. How it plays out, each and every day…

A room. It seems familiar…but the girl? I don’t recall. Naked. Skin soft and warm, her breath light. She rolls away, lost in some dream. Instinctively I grab the alarm clock with moments to spare.

Each morning the same struggle. I wonder how I ended up here, managing this hotel – ‘Paradise City’. its beautiful gardens buried deep in some stinking concrete jungle. I smile at the passing guests. My skull thick with whiskey; constantly they bark requests as the mind’s eye shows me things I was never meant to know. Eventually the darkness lands. With a flash I’m gone, out the door, pulse racing with an urge to see her.

I trudge uptown brandishing the stick at the swarm of oncoming human traffic. The city bursts skywards. Giant advertising screens flash baseball stars and sportswear.

“Fucks your problem?” screams some fat cunt in linen pants and a fedora.

“I come in peace, son.”

“Ain’t your son shitbag, watch where ya walking next time. Fucking cripple!”

Without breaking stride or looking back I wonder at how many times Ive heard this and smile. The night air warm and sticky; taxi cabs blare horns, the smell of hotdogs drift from the street vendors. I push on.

La temptation’ Gentleman’s club and Bubba Pimp is in full pitch, a girl on each arm. The crowd of losers holla at the show, throwing twenty bucks a pop. The snakes tongue flicks at her snatch as she writhes on the stage.

“You couldn’t afford that one,” he says.

“Oh, I’ve paid for it.” I laugh, “many times over.”

The snake rises to attention then dips back down flicking its tongue across her nipple. The audience goes wild. My heartbeat reaches critical as fingers tighten round the stick. Urge turns to rage. I’m up and out of the chair stick held high. The reptile turns it head. It taunts me. I see my reflection in its eyes. Teeth grind, my chest thuds and I swing heavy. The branch from an ancient tree shatters its skull. The bums go psycho.

“What the fuck is wrong with you,” pleads Eva “Why don’t you just leave us alone?”

“Axel, son of man, pleased to meet ya.”

“You’re not the son!”

“What ya talking about?”

“Don’t you remember? You didn’t want us.” She points at the snake, “you’re not the son… he is!”

The serpent disappears, a half-eaten apple takes its place.

A voice shouts across the room, “you’re not the fucking son!”

“Not the son, not the son, not the son…” Faces chant, charging towards me. Stale whiskey and body odour rise with the heat; a nightmare scenario.

“Bitch” I shout, raising the stick towards the oncoming human traffic.

“Not the son, not the son…”

Blows reign in. I’m on the floor. I feel the snake slide against my leg. It’s soft and warm. I hear my breath gently moving in and out. The taste of whiskey sour in my mouth. Instinctively I reach out, grabbing the alarm clock with moments to spare.

Guests at the hotel come and go, forever needing something. They are always asking for help. I tire of smiling at them and take a walk in the garden. My buckled legs ache and the damp shirt clings to my skin. It will be dark soon, almost dark enough to see her again. I sense an urge and it begins to rise…

“If I were to begin life again, I should want it as it was. I would only open my eyes a little more ” ~ Jules Renard.

“To live a spiritual life we must first find the courage to enter into the desert of loneliness and to change it by gentle and persistent efforts into a garden of solitude” ~ Henry J.M Nouwen.

“You don’t know my mind, you don’t know my kind. Dark necessities are part of my design” ~ Red hot chili peppers.

D&O in Fresno

Resurrection

Vegas looked at the betting slip. What chance did it have really…14/1 against the heavy favourite, in the big race as well, complete fucking long shot! He lifted the pen to his eyebrow and scratched. A voice in his head said, “Leave now before its too late.” The shop door bursts open, all eyes are on the interruption as two snivelling shitkickers accompany some lover of sun beds and Armani. Staring deep into him, they float by close to the nose. Too close. An elbow clips his mid drift as they descend on the roulette machine.

A scene like someone he once knew. Way back. That night in Caesars Palace. Wasted on Don Perignon and Cocaine, strippers and 70 Grand to the good. Long back, a whole fucking Universe from this, and that walking overestimation stood at the gaming machine.

The Armani Kid barks orders while his stooge moves to the counter.

“You sure Tommy?” He says, looking back over his shoulder.

“Place the bet dipshit.”

The dipshit lays down a wad of cash. Then the unexpected happens, nothing but something. As the assistant picks up the money there’s a pause. She glances through the crowd straight into Vegas’s eyes. A fraction of time, and in it he sees. He sees fear mixed with something else – Respect.

“Is that really you Billy Boy?”

“Yeah Colonel its me, how you been?”

The old man looks him up and down, “Prostate Cancer and Malnutrition thanks for asking.”

“Sorry to hear that Pops, got a tip for the big race?”

“Since when do you take tips from the likes of me? See you’ve met our rising star.”

“Who is he?”

“The new you.”

“Bullshit Frankie I wouldn’t be seen dead dressed like that.”

“Things have changed while you been missing.”

“How come?” Vegas asks.

“Drugs!” The old man turns his attention to the gang at the roulette machine. “They peddle that shit on the streets then make a stake over the counter. Play with somebody else’s money.”

Vegas notices the assistant look over again; pretty thing, good tits, looks a little tired, maybe squeezes the headboard too tight.

“They cleaned this place out last month. Took it for 50 large, place was shut for a week.”

“Nature of the business” said Vegas.

Lights flash, the machine screams and the sideshow give it their best Zebedee impersonations. The kid turns, stares straight at Vegas smirking. Abbott and Costello congratulate him with puppy dog appreciation.

Around the room feet shift nervously.

Vegas holds the stare, “what’s his fucking problem.”

“You” said the old man.

The assistant takes a ticket from the stooge. A slimy looking bastard in Stone Island jeans and a Hugo Boss T-shirt. Arms animated he badgers her impatiently as she calls for the manager. Vegas strains to hear what’s said as the TV announces runners and riders for the next race.

“Fuck it, add it to what I dropped on Bonsai Baby in the next race Dave, ya can write me a check if ya short.” Armani Kid laughs. The manager develops alopecia on the spot. Again the kid darts a look at Vegas as they move towards the big screen.

At the counter Vegas asks, “How much?”

“Excuse me sir” the assistant replies.

“Smart arse with the chuckle brothers, what’s he got on the next race?”

Anxiously lowering her eyes, “we don’t want anymore trouble, its best you leave Billy.”

“Why’s that, and how come you know my name?”

“A Grand, even money! You like to place a bet? There’s customers waiting sir.”

Noise rises. The shop springs to life. Vegas looks on from behind the crowd. Bonsai Baby crosses the line in first place as the dynamic trio explode into revelry.

Vegas heads for the door; almost makes it, hears the shout, “Leaving already Mr Big Shot?”

“Business of yours is it?” He turns to see the whole crowd staring. The Colonel moves to the flank, pulls the peak of his cap, lowering his eyes.

“Heard you were good at this, maybe you just lucky.”

“Get fucked.” Vegas replies.

“Take a bet?”

“On what?”

The Kid smiles, his friends look on with excited faces.

“I match what’s in your pocket, horse of my choosing against that betting slip you been hanging onto so tightly.”

Vegas feels the roll of notes through his trouser pocket. The fabric aggravates callouses on his hand. Months gripping the front rope attached to a pipe from the concrete pump. Hours of overtime. This new life. Straight as a dye. The shop across the street. Jewellers. A ring sits in the window. An honest girl and a warm home to go back to every night.

“Gotta say I’ve been having second thoughts, don’t think the distance is right for my horse.” His fingers loosen, hand opens, the crumpled paper drops to the floor.

Armani moves in close. His forehead on Vegas’s nose, sweet liquor breath rises into his nostrils. “Like I said, lucky thats all.”

The Kid spins round Michael Jackson style; throws his arms skyward, announcing victory, he shouts, “All of it Dave, fifty big ones I took from ya, stick it on Click and Collect next race.”

“But but…”

“Never mind but but but you stuttering fuck, this still a bookies isn’t it, hurry up man they’re at the gates.”

What happened next is better seen than told…

In a betting shop a long way from Las Vegas a group of men stand watching a horse race on TV. An old man pushes up the peak of his cap, leans into the wall and lights a cigarette. One betting shop assistant glares at an individual who watches from way back near the door. Eleven horses complete the first lap. Four fell attempting the fences. The punters scream as the horses reach the second circuit. The manager grips his chest, falling to the floor. A button pressed, shutters screech as they lower and lock into place. The 6/4 favourite Click and Collect heads the field at the final fence. He makes the jump. 100 yards to go. The small crowd go wild. The camera pans back slightly. One horse makes a final dash. Franticly the rider deploys the whip, he’s gaining ground, its looking close.

“Open these fucking shutters bitch or I swear I will carve you up.” The kid yells.

“What happened, thought you were good at this” says Vegas “or just lucky?”

“You fuck off ya has been, think coz ya scored once in Las Vegas, I’m telling you ya don’t know jack shit.”

Raising an arm out straight Vegas opens his had. A crumpled piece of paper in his palm.

“Take it, look what ya could have won.”

A shriek echos the room as Vegas turns the door handle. Pausing to smile, he knows what’s behind it. 14/1 The winner ‘Resurrection’, “Good luck with all this kid, you’re gonna need it.” Not looking back he walks out, crosses the street and heads towards the Jewellers.

June ‘19

I first had the idea to write this six months ago. Sat down, fired up the keyboard and waited for the Muse to show up. Like I have any control over that. I quickly shut the whole thing down and done something else instead. It was the beginning of what has proved to be the most challenging period of my recovery and maybe even life itself. I’d be lying if I said I’d never thought of a drink. I have, many times. Twice I’ve been on my way. Stopped at the line by something outside of or deep down within me. Im still no closer to knowing what that is. All I know is that it is, and I continue to seek the experience of Him, Her, It, or none of the above. My job is just to remain teachable and open to the lessons that often come disguised as demons, then reveal themselves as blessings later down the path.

I love you JJ, trust the journey, wherever it takes you, “More will be revealed to you and to us…”

“Live in the layers not on the litter.” – Stanley Kunitz

“My Father didn’t tell me how to live, he lived, and let me watch him do it.” – Clarence Kelland

“For what will it profit a man, if he gains the whole world and forfeits his life?” – Matt 16:26

D&O in Fresno

The 4th Step Flamenco

“Those who do not recover are people who cannot or will not completely give themselves to this simple programme, usually men and women who are constitutionally incapable of been honest with themselves”.

 

The first thing apparent was something wasn’t quite right. I had no idea what and even less of an idea how I knew. But I knew. Of that I was certain. Simply put – my insides didn’t match others’ outsides! But no way was I going to say that out loud. Who would? Even though I had the love of some beautiful people, I knew from the word go I was dancing this one alone!
Looking back there was a few who could see and one or two who tried to raise the issue but that door was firmly closed. Besides all this I quickly found a solution and it was to accompany me every step of the way across four different decades. The journey with the illusion had begun 

Flamenco;
Noun- a style of dancing (solo) that is strongly rhythmic and involves vigorous action (including clapping of the hands).

 

Humans in general have nothing more than a nodding acquaintance with self-honesty. Everybody is quick to point out the other mans faults and almost blind to recognise them in themselves. The funny thing is, we don’t need to see them to be aware, we just need to listen. My problem is no different to anybody else’s. Its not that I chose to look the other way it was more a case of “soak in the praise and reject the appraisal”. Basically I surrounded myself with people, good or bad, who through no fault of their own, co-signed my bullshit. The delusion was in full swing and the masks fitted comfortably… for a while. Drink, drugs, violence, disastrous relationships, all from an early age had me believing I was some Romeo in a porno show. But whatever it was that was apparent first thing just kept clapping louder and louder until enough of the self imposed crisis routine embarked me on a journey into honesty…  

Education and information are wonderful things. Personally I love them and happily endorse them but on their own they are a fucking horror show. Since the invent of Google and social media everybody is an expert and a world leader in their chosen field of the day. Just so happens that since the internet made an appearance the insanity level powered up a few notches. Our planet is now the mental institution of the Universe and all sides think the other side is to blame. Infants in charge of an ego – dangerous game!
Thats where my issue with others has to end. Quickly I recall it all started long before any digital mindfuck and even if the Matrix really is a public information film instead of an action movie what good is that going to do me. The Flamenco is a solo dance but never danced alone, it requires vigorous action. There is action and more action… 

Throughout all the chaos, peppered with high octane excitements and soul crushing lows, the dice landed favourably enough often enough to warp my perspective. Education, information and greater efforts all mean jack shit without an awareness. What is awareness other than honesty in action. Am I honest enough to see my resentments are not the responsibility of somebody else’s efforts or can I see that Im a resentful fucker regardless. It matters not who’s name is on the list, it could be Micky Mouse, when it asks ‘Who is resentful?’ Its always my name in that column. Its the same with fears. It looks like the world and his wife have all got some form of anxiety disorder they are popping pills for. But honestly when I ask myself why I have them isn’t it because self reliance reminds me Im applying for Gods job but Im not qualified to sit in the interview. What about conduct? Does selfish self-centredness explain it with any justice? All I know is when it came to sex, money, prestige, there was never enough for me.

Whats the common denominator in all this? Me? You? Us?

“The first thing apparent was this world and its people were often quite wrong. To conclude that others were wrong was as far as most of us ever got. The usual outcome was that people continued to wrong us and we stayed sore. Sometimes it was remorse and then we were sore at ourselves”.

The first thing apparent was something wasn’t quite right. What was wrong? I thought I could and would dance this one alone. But we are never alone. There is no me, there is no you, there is only us. Talking of honesty, there are some people that I will never like, some that I tolerate through gritted teeth. But it doesn’t matter. They are as much a part of the ‘Us  equation as anybody else. None of us qualify for the interview. The same life force, the rhythm, that flows freely through me flows through you flows through us. Separation is the illusion.

We don’t mature through age, we mature in awareness~ Byron Katie

“The fundamental delusion of humanity is to suppose that I am here and you are out there” ~ Yasutani Roshi

“Whatever you do to the least of my brothers and sisters, you do to me” ~ The Carpenter 

D&O in Fresno

Bloody Mary and the Trinity Square Sermon

Pennsylvania 2014, Poconos Mountains – somewhere about half way… 

 

We had drove for about an hour. Climbing all the way up a twisting narrow road that cut through thick forrest. The trees were so high as to block out most of the fading natural light and cast a darkness over the road. A shadow deep enough to make driving at that speed a little challenging. The tarmac snaked up and up till we reached a flat clearing and on it stood a building. We had travelled a long way to be there. I certainly didn’t have a personal invite and at that point didn’t realise exactly what I was walking into. My good friend and travel companion had spoke many times about the man who was celebrating there that night. As it turned out we weren’t the only ones who had travelled… both in miles and experience! 

The men in that room were of various ages and it turns out some of them were bordering ancient. The top man himself was in his 80’s and a few, one in particular, was quite a bit older. Some of these guys go back almost to the first 100. They had came from many parts of the United States just to be there that night. The experience itself was incredible. There was an energy in that room I’ve never felt before or since. One I will never be able to forget. One thing more than any other sticks with me and I knew it meant something as soon as I heard it. I had no idea what. Three men spoke from a podium for no more than fifteen minutes each. They had been hand picked by the Gentleman in question and what they shared was inspirational beyond words. But the last one, a real big fella who was in his 90’s barely looking a day over 60, stole the show with a poem that ended… “I would rather see a sermon than hear a sermon”. There was electricity in the air and I felt plugged into it! I knew right away I would never forget those words. Speaking with the old boy later I felt like I was around somebody who knew something I didn’t. Confirmed by the warmth of his laugh and the knowing look in his eyes as he listened to me, it was a silent “Good luck kid”.

Fort Worth Texas, Dallas Airport – around 2 years later… 

 

I had a 4 hour wait till my flight to Heathrow and was propping up a bar stool chasing that sense of ease and comfort. Half a dozen Bloody Marys, the beers I had sank in Fresno, and a short skin full on the plane into Dallas were starting to take effect. I was busy hitting it hard and amusing myself with the waitress for over an hour. Her cleavage was costing me 20 dollars every round and it was now starting to feel surreal. I was surrounded by Stetson hats, cowboy boots and bootlace neckties. The psychotic party for one was in full swing as ZZ Top blasted out of the sound system. I was reminded of the ‘Titty Twister’, like been stuck in a Tarantino movie. I knew I was heading into blackout and decided to make the call before it was too late. On the other end of the line would be a friend. He had known I was struggling, that I was in over my head and that soon I would probably crash. He didn’t at this point know I was heading home or that I was drunk. It works both ways! In the build up to this train crash I had become totally self absorbed. Self-centredness reigned supreme. He picked up the phone. He had been drinking! Turns out he had had a whole load of shit of his own going on. Shit I had been incapable of seeing due to been a Grade A selfish fucker totally absorbed in me. He had been sober a good while and his crash equaled mine and some. 

Ive Came to Believe that the God of my understanding doesn’t create problems. Humans have always done a grand job of that without needing assistance. Rather he develops solutions by using whatever is at hand. Me and my friend where heading in a parallel direction and it was about to get worse before it got better. 

We met up in a coffee shop in a place called Trinity Square. My evaluation of the situation at that point was… “Deep shit fucked up beyond repair”. I had never in my life felt that bad. He looked worse! As we parted company that day he turned and said “One day we will look back and laugh at this”. I seriously doubted it.

In the weeks that followed we stayed close. A couple of hours together most days. Taking turns to talk and periods of silence and staring into space. We cracked jokes while always on the edge of cracking up without a hope of return. There was times when his sickness would aggravate mine and vice versa. I would make a few days sober then fall back into the bottle and repeat. He went on his own mission to make things worse causing personal chaos that he can describe much better than I can. In short he worked himself chronic with most people. Eventually he was carted off to a rehab in some seaside town promising to get in touch as soon as he was allowed to make contact. I settled down to the thought of a marathon period of rebuilding. One I had no idea how to run. It was very hard work and I had the same conviction as listening to that parting comment in Trinity Square. Even though many people who matter commented on the fact I was doing better than I thought it still felt like the circus was in town and the monkey on my back was here to stay.

Weeks passed and with the help of others I managed to stay sober. Then the phone rang. It was him. He had walked out of the rehab and was at a train station heading home. I worried for him. I remembered us been on a platform not that long ago and I was convinced he would throw himself under the next train. But something had changed. There was an enthusiasm in his voice when he told me he knew what he was doing and what was going to happen next. 

Back home he took to the task. He stayed close to those who could help. We met up regularly and talked about what happened, where to go next, and what was it that was deeply wrong with us. No darkness remained hidden! Impressively he went about cleaning up the shit he had made and managed to gain a foothold when some wanted to cast him off. He got put on shift in the Bentnick Hotel and spread some peace to those going through personal nightmares of their own.

Moving around jobs to better his own situation has always been accompanied by a never ending commitment to help those who ask him. Myself included. His crash was public and massive. His comeback has been monumental. Ive learned so much and am incredibly proud of him. Throughout all the rigorous honesty he has always pointed and never lectured. A few years have passed and we got to “look back and laugh”. The growth has been amazing and the journey though rarely easy has at times been very exciting. I wouldn’t change a second of it. But above everything… I got to see a sermon.

“The Steps are not the work, they remove the blocks that stop you from performing the work” – Don P

“Nothing is important life is just a comedy ~ Aye a fucking black one” – In conversation

“… tried to carry this message…” – 12

 D&O in Fresno

Bordering the Clusterfuck

“I’ve come to expect challenges. In fact Ive Came to Believe that at the exact moment I realise sanity has returned I’ve already started the process of restoring myself to insanity.”

Its a recurring patten. Each time I peel another layer from the onion the next one smarts my eyes. Its kind of fun in a sick way like playing heads or tails with a coin that declares ‘Outright Serenity’ & ‘Manic Serenity’ on opposing sides. I get to play and it appears thats my game of choice on this journey called life. Eventually the coin lands ‘Serenity’ side up and during the cooling down period Im allowed the opportunity to reflect. View the progress and collateral damage equally, formulate a plan for the next layer, take a deep breath and relax. Who knows, next time I might just say “Fuck this I’m off to the pub to get loaded” but where would the fun be in that. 

The layer of recent experience has been original to say the least. Ive been guilty of just about every defect in the book at one point or another. Me and the ‘Seven Deadly’ were in the same class at school, ‘Snow White’ joined us later. But when it comes to judgement I only ever had a nodding acquaintance. Hardly strangers, just never quite close buddies. The way I always saw it was we all have opinions and if yours didn’t match mine then you were history. Dropped like a hot stone. Not saying I disliked you or even thought about you. Rather where was the value in bumping heads over different perspectives when there was more interesting topics to wash drink and drugs down with.

Almost 48 years in and my acquaintance of the nodding variety decided it was time for a full introduction. Much more of an interesting chap than I originally thought. A fucking mirror and a teacher. We would of made good drinking partners back in the day. So where am I going with all this…

Lately Ive been fed up with humans. Nothing out of the ordinary there, ‘Those Fuckas’ always find a way in. But normally I can separate (keep this in mind for later) them into groups – those that piss me off and those that charge my battery, keep me going so to speak. Then out of nowhere it seamed as if God appeared with an Oxyacetylene bottle and a blow torch and welded those fuckers together. One big clusterfuck of opposing opinions. Making noise, lots of it! 

Now lets be honest, I don’t give a fart in a shitstorm about who’s right and who’s wrong. I don’t believe there is such a thing. Opinions. One man’s meat is another man’s poison. I don’t go around telling others whats for supper. But it appears everybody all of a sudden wants to be king or queen of the pissing and moaning party. Worse still a lot of them claim to have an understanding of the 3rd Step. They have spoken many times of the disaster zone their life became when they tried to run the show. Now they demand how things should be done according to them. Everything from running the planet to picking the England team’s starting eleven in the World Cup. Its not exclusively them (remember the Big Fella with the blowtorch), everybody’s at it (and I mean everybody. If you think I don’t mean you then take another spin, in fact take as many as you like). The way I see it is if they were in charge of the team sheet the highlight of the season in a few short years would be a derby agains the Bullfarters Arms in some Sunday league over 40’s competition in front of a record crown numbering the grand total of 42. As for taking charge in an office of power then the whole planet would probably implode within 5 working days.

All of a sudden the sting from the onion starts to ease and I get to ask – “Who is the madman here?” What was it the Carpenter said about ‘Forgive them they haven’t got a Scooby what they are doing’ – infants in charge of an ego and here I am judging them like I’m any better. I get to look in a mirror held up by a teacher. Painful like an onion sting to the eyes. Another layer pealed, another layer removed from the core, getting closer, growing through pain. Entered and returned from the illusion of separation. Even though it feels good for brief moments, self-righteousness is still the pathway to self-destruct. I need ‘Those Fuckas’ even though they make noise that robs me of serenity from time to time. Who else would hold the mirror up? I made a decision to face and be rid of the things that feed my demons and block me from whatever has my highest good in its interests (Whatever It looks like, whatever It calls Itself). I got to face and be rid of some more thanks to Judgement and I’m grateful for the lesson so bring on the next one and make it equally as interesting or who knows I might just say “Fuck this I’m off to the pub to get loaded” – Not today JFT.

Step into the fire of self discovery, this fire will not burn you, it will only burn what you are not” – Mooji

“It is easy to criticise and break down the spirits of others, but to know yourself takes a lifetime” – Bruce Lee

“For (because of)  judgement I came into the world, That those who do not see (own faults) may see and those who see (defects of others) may become blind” – JC.

D&O in Fresno

Spiritual Warfare

“On the 11th hour on the 11th day of the 11th month the guns fell silent…”

For a short while… After 4 years of a living hell that with all the best of intentions we are unable to fully comprehend… the guns fell silent! Just a few weeks ago I was looking at some recent photos of the battle fields of France. Even after 99 years the landscape has only partially recovered. The mud is long gone, trees have obviously grown back but the visible signs of the trenches are still there. A fitting tribute to a destruction and suffering of the highest order. The guns fell silent in France and brought an end to an episode and nothing more!

The thoughts and feelings of those guys on both sides when the reality of the ceasefire kicked in is again something we who weren’t there are unable to fully absorb. Regardless of who claimed victory it must have been a huge relief. That silence. That peace.

Unique in its own right because without that extreme human riot the absolute beauty of one second of pure silence can be vacant in a whole lifetime.

Whole lives have been lived without ever experiencing the total wonderment of a moments peace. The world and its people have constantly been at war. We are at war with ourselves.

Somebody with a greater understanding than me once said “All wars are fought due to mans inability to be in a room by himself and sit the fuck down and shut the fuck up” – Spiritual Warfare!

The ego will constantly try to force the idea of separation into the human consciousness… Im right and you are wrong! Like there is such a thing. Right and wrong! Never has there been and never will there be a situation where everybody concerned is satisfied. Somehow it just doesn’t work that way.

Five years ago I found myself at a point in life I just couldn’t go on with. I could sit in a room by myself, in fact thats what the majority of my days consisted of. I could sit down, again most of the time thats what I did. But shut the fuck up… not for one second. Even in my sleeping moments my head was screaming! A Passchendaele and Flanders in my own personal living room. I prayed for a ceasefire and eventually one came. A surrender in a war I had been fighting for over 40 years. A war with myself. Drink drugs violence ego and insecurity had been the machinery of war that I had bombarded myself with in a continuously progressive way. Like France the guns fell silent to an episode. The world and its people are constantly at war. It appears we are made that way. The constant illusion of separation fed by the ego.

We have the option to opt out but that feeling of separation (the ego rebuilds and reconstructs) makes it difficult to “Sit the fuck down and shut the fuck up” but I felt it for the first time way back and looked for it ever since…

A few weeks ago I was waiting with my mate outside a locked up yoga studio at 6:55am five minutes before the session was due to start when the instructor turns up in a taxi. I made the comment to him that me and my friend had decided to give him a few more moments then go find a bar. We laughed and hugged then went inside and hit the mat. It wasn’t the first time a drink had crossed my mind since getting out of bed that morning. In fact theres very few days when its not my first thought. Theres hundreds of times Ive found a bar at 7 in the morning if not a shop that serves booze well before that. Theres something about morning drinking that really stroked my nuts from the very first time. Something non drinkers will never understand. That opt out feeling of surrendering to what is…

I remember been around 14 years old coming down stairs first thing and going out into the back garden. My old man was sitting there in his work clothes but obviously not going to work. I walked into the kitchen, grabbed a glass and went back out and joined him. I cant remember much about what was said that day, it was sometime ago, but I remember that total feeling of been at peace. That middle finger, go fuck yourself to the rest of the world. That pure silence response to the bullshit that humans in general seem completely unable to take a break from. Most if not all of them appear incapable of stopping themselves from adding to the noise of that circus ground cluster fuck. They are absolutely unaware of it. Its not their fault, the world is full of sick people – Im one of them!

“Selfisness, Self-Centredness that we think is the root of our troubles” Right or wrong!

So opting out without taking a drink takes a lot of hard work and practice. The ego screams separation. All that right and wrong bullshit! “Selfishness Self-Centredness…”

The guns fell silent just to mark an end to an episode. One I am doomed to repeat if I “fall victim to the delusion that happiness and satisfaction can be wrestled from this world…”

There is a lot about this world I don’t like. People, Places and Things that just don’t sit easy with me. But Im no better qualified to judge whats right or wrong anymore than they are.

The real peace that those guys must have temporarily felt as news of the ceasefire spread round the trenches can be experienced by one thing only. Surrendering to the fact that the war was always internal “This world and its people are often quite wrong and that is as far as most of us ever got…

“Above everything we must be rid of This selfishness, we must or it kills us” – Big Book p62.

“I should be content to look at a mountain for what it is and not as a comment on my life” -David Ignatow.

“I leave you with a new commandment, Love each other as I have Loved you” – The Carpenter.

D&O in Fresno.

Raging Bullshit and…

a brief acquaintance with Samadhi

A reintroduction;

Thirteen months have passed since the blog first burst out onto the Net. This is currently the 40th post and there have been over 1600 views so far. Averaging 123 views per month from all corners of the globe. Hardly New York Times Best Seller List material but still its done ok across various platforms. August 25th 2016 (first post) still holds the record number of hits in 24 hours (118).

So I thought now was as good a time as any to redo an introduction. Plus with the blogs theme of my daily practice of staying present and real to the moment along with been true to myself, coupled with the passing of the late great Jake La Motta it just seemed too good an opportunity for a great title.

I thought I would update on how Im doing with all this alongside a quick recap of previous posts and a list of my top 5 to date. I need to remind myself sometimes…

The world pulls at all of us, or the ego, whichever way you choose to look at it. People, their bullshit, false drama and constant mild or strong projected irritation can drive the sane totally crazy. Along with things such as debt, overworking, the economy, world war, world peace or any other fucking nonsense have got the majority of the population in the grip of a complete state of anxious depression.

Fuck that! The worlds problems are caused by one thing only – the human mind and its refusal to allow the sufferer to sit the fuck down and shut the fuck up. What has been seen can never be unseen. Knowing this is both a blessing and a curse. Sometimes it feels like Im walking through the set of The Walking Dead but along the way I’ve met some incredible people who remind me that’s all I’m doing… just walking through! Simple but rarely easy.

“In samādhi the mind becomes still. It is a state of being totally aware of the present moment; a one-pointedness of mind. It is a growing extension of the gap between thoughts and the conscious realisation of this without actually thinking about it.”

The world is full of sick people, I’m one of them. I can love them or hate them. The spiritual path tells me its better to love them and experience confirms this. Its a daily practice! I have a much deeper understanding now why I remained completely intoxicated with drink and drugs for decades. Along with why its so necessary to practice diligently what Ive learned since sobering up. If I don’t then I start buying into all the bullshit and then the dark side of me starts hinting that the crack pipe might not really be such a bad idea. The purpose of this blog has been to document all this.

Let’s take a look back…

Starting with NYC (15/9/16). Coolspring, Terrorists, Pancakes& Grits (21/9/16). Some time staying present in the big city, meeting up with mutual friends, a terrorist attack and enjoying some incredible food!

Familiar Ground (27/9/16). Connection (11/10/16). All that been back home entails after a trip to the greatest city on earth.

Onion Skin, Rehab and Parliament (11/12/16). Digging close to reality, working in a rehab and a trip to London after an invite to the House of Lords.

(5/2/17 – 9/3/17) Taking time to reflect in the posts…

Learning to let go.

Observing the illusion.

Easy does it.

Awake.

(15/3 – 14/4/17) The WordPress Challenge brought 16 posts.

My favourites been –

Taking tea with Tesla (a cuppa with anybody you choose).

On Location (write what you can see).

Just Meditation (a critique).

Zenphoric Recall was posted 18/4

Journey of a Single Step (27/4) & Process of Subtraction (25/5) were both published on the U.S Recovery Website DrunklessLife.com

Frontier (31/5) – looks at a close call and some Dejavu.

Night Watchman at the Crease (11/6) – exploring the wilderness of discomfort.

Roland (21/6) – a book review.

Seeker of Experience (29/6) – saying goodbye with a touch of Faith.

You can hear it in my accent when I talk (12/8) – back in NYC.

No Mas (25/8) – Roberto Duran with a 12 Step perspective.

Spiritual Hooligan (9/11) – the latest to date.

My Top 5

5 Thinking and Drinking with Mick & Mel (14/4/17).

4 Just for Today 24 Little Hours (6/4/17).

3 Fear (4/4/17).

2 Letter to Santa Claus (23/3/17 – its a Gratitude List).

1 Zenphoric Recall (18/4/17). Looking at even though the scars are real their influence on today in reality is nothing more than a dvd playing in the head.

As for Fresno she still out there just where I left her. Surrounded by the scorched California desert, her heart pulsing in tune with a flaming nuclear sun. Yosemite to the east and the Pacific to the west. Occupied by a massive Homeless population, some of them surviving daily battles of insane complexities. Some don’t. Alongside all this chaos half the United States’ Methamphetamine is produced and consumed. Block after block of Suburbs gives the City an eerie plastic twilight zone feeling as each resident participates in their own fresh fillet of hell. Somewhere amongst all this are certain groups and individuals who know there is a better way and battle to stay in touch with reality on a 24 hour basis – maybe down but certainly not out…in Fresno!

As for me… well I’ve had a blast.

A Zen Buddhist Poem…

“If you prefer smoke over fire

then get up now and leave.

For I do not intend to perfume

your mind’s clothing

with more sooty knowledge.

No, I have something else in mind.

Today I hold a flame in my left hand

and a sword in my right.

There will be no damage control today.

For God is in a mood

to plunder your riches and

fling you nakedly

into such breathtaking poverty

that all that will be left of you

will be a tendency to shine.

So don’t just sit around this flame

choking on your mind.

For this is no campfire song

to mindlessly mantra yourself to sleep with.

Jump now into the space

between thoughts

and exit this dream

before I burn the damn place down.”

“Its not a daily increase but a daily decrease, hack away the inessentials” – Bruce Lee.

“You punch like you take it up the ass” – Jake La Motta.

“Life’s tough… get a helmet” – Aiden.

D&O in Fresno.

Frontier

Radiate – “Diverge or spread from or as if from a central point”

It was dark and pissing down with rain. I was in a state of emotional and mental disrepair. Very different from how I’d been throughout the previous moments of that day, which in itself was surprising. I was seven days back from a relapse. A short excursion back into the madness, it had lasted only a few days but it had been extremely intense. The suffering brought about by reacquainting myself with my old friend wasn’t unexpected. I know how it works. He try’s on a daily basis with a cunning so baffling its beyond powerful, it’s tripped me up more than once. I’ve never took a drink I didn’t need, it was always to shut that fucker up!
I’d spent that morning and afternoon the same way I’d spent the last week, in the rooms of the Fellowship. Surrounding myself with those whose old friend is on first name terms with mine. 2-3 meetings a day. Though still obviously shook up I had quickly began to repair physically. I was tired but felt satisfied that I’d put 24 hours between me and the assassin that lives somewhere deep in my psyche. On that I decided to take some time to rest up and spend the night on the couch. The obsession kicked in within the hour and even though Im more than fully aware I can’t beat it on my own I chose to play with it rather than disclose it.
So… I find myself soaked to the skin, takin the longer way to go buy what I need. There’s a quicker route but that would mean taking the chance of bumping into people who would want to help me. The mental obsession has got me in its death grip now, literally. I’m conscious of the fact that I’m fucked. I haven’t got the strength to repeat the last 7 days. I put a drink in me now then I’m gone, along with everything that came with staying sober.
It’s a Saturday night and the street is unusually quiet. It’s never a busy tread path, except for the steady flow of amateurs on a pub crawl, always somebody around. Not now. Just me and the dark rain! Im half way to where I need to get. The mental obsession along with the growing physical compulsion has me feeling exhausted. I see the bar all lit up like Christmas. Standing across the road staring at it as it calls me in. The pull is amazing, everything I need to make this go away is in there, everything I need to make everything go away! The rain is getting heavier.

In the book of Genesis after God discovers Cain has murdered his brother Able he decides to banish him way past the frontier rather than destroy him. Stating his reason for sparing him as “Man is inherently evil by youth”.
Interestingly ancient civilizations and believe systems of Spiritually orientated peoples have a theory that we hold in our DNA – mental thought processes, personality traits and more importantly – Memories that we inherent from our ancestors. Passed down from generation to generation at the time of conception. More times than not this happens at a stage in the parents’ lives that could be considered as youthful. This would explain déjàvu, a phenomenon that most people are aquatinted with at least casually. I’ve experienced it more than a few times but most powerfully during my first trip to New York. Granted it was before I got sober and I spent the whole trip intoxicated, but turning a corner from one street to the next I was suddenly aware of a deep recognition of my surroundings. I felt sure I had been in that street before! Only that was impossible as it was the first time I’d crossed the Atlantic. It’s a fucking big Ocean so I couldn’t have accidentally found myself there previously during a drunken blackout unable to remember making the trip. However my Grandfather had been there during his time in the Navy back in his youth!

I knew both my Grandfathers well, as well as you think that you know anybody, we are never sure. Both had similarities and differences. One grew up in an Orphanage and climbed on-board a ship for the first of many times at the age of 14. The other stayed at home nearly all his life building boilers that powered those ships. They were both hard working, heavy drinking men. Both incredibly stubborn and self-sufficient. My father fits the same bill. I can’t imagine any of them ever asking anybody for help. Inherently I fit them same description. With one difference – I had to adapt. Had to otherwise I can’t seriously imagine sitting here today writing this blog. Not when I’ve saw with my own eyes what happened to those who I could see where not yet at the stage I got to. They sharp did. Not all of them, some didn’t make it!
Humans are powered by ego. All of us! We suffer from a collective insanity. The world is full of sick people totally identified with the bullshit swirling through their minds. In a near constant state of fantasy, anxiety, guilt and resentment. Always planning, plotting, scheming and day dreaming. Never really present to the moment by moment miracle of life itself. Never fully connected to the ever present reality of the Now. Spirituality is the realization that survival is a savage battle between me and myself. A battle that I can’t fight alone and one that can never be won. One that will continue till I either die or quit, there’s always a chance that could happen on the same day. Today I know it doesn’t have to be that way. I made a decision to practice a different way to live, a way of living that gives me a life beyond my wildest dreams. Not OF my wildest dreams… that shit would kill me quick! Staying focused on what’s in front of me and always finding something to be grateful for… it’s always there!
At work I’m in a position to help others, people with a complex chaotic lifestyle that have multiple difficulties, none of them lead to a healthy conclusion unless big changes were to happen. However most clamor for my attention without a desire to make changes. They want a quick fix for whatever problem confronts them and then to go on with the normal level of self-destruction. I was very much like that myself. The Gift of Desperation can only be found at “Rock Bottom”. As crazy as it seems, some people just never find their way there no matter how bad it gets! I love the fact I’m not just in a position to help others but also that I’ve developed empathy and a willingness to think of others. It’s the opposite of the immense selfishness I displayed for decades. That is where the whole problem starts. “Selfishness, self-centeredness that we think is the root of our troubles”
But having said that it never serves anybody well to rob them of their own personal rock bottom. They say if you can’t remember it then you haven’t been there yet! I was 41 years old and what I found there was the ability to ask for help. That was a first!

If you’re wondering what happened that night as I stood in the rain staring at the bar, soaked to the skin, needing a drink. Not wanting to but knowing I had already lost the ability to choose whether I would or not. That night when the inherent insanity drove my thinking and compelled me to go ahead and continue where I had left off… on that desperate mission of self-destruction.

The short answer is you had to be there!

I don’t fully understand it myself, don’t expect I ever will. I try not to demand understanding nowadays, accepting things are just the way they are. I reached out for help and it came. I found myself putting one foot in front of the other and backtracking what felt like a marathon. It was a short distance, only a few hundred yards but it felt like I was wearing deep sea diver’s boots. I flopped down on the bed and slept till morning. Waking up sober I spent the day with my young son. He was oblivious to what had just happened the night before and I was just too happily relieved, not needing to talk about it.

We carry more shit than we realize! If we are not there for each other than where are we? If we don’t ask for help then how can we receive it? If we don’t know how it feels to be helped then how can we help others? If we can’t help others then how do we expect to survive, and more than that, how can we expect to be happy?

This blog entry was inspired by the WordPress “One word – Daily Prompt” (Radiate) and also a Facebook post from my good friend Justin – C. It was as follows…

“Dearly beloved we are gathered here today to get through this thing called life ….today I will be trying to bring as much joy as I can to myself and others ..there’s enuf shit and pain In this world already the last thing it needs is me adding to it ..peace”

“Your wounds happened for you not to you” ~ Jeffery Van Dyk

“Am I my brothers keeper?” ~ Gen 4:9

“Deep beneath the white there is a redskin suffering from centuries of taming” ~ Adam & the Ants

 

Process of Subtraction

Process of Subtraction

(Love more than Judge)

Attending my weekly morning meditation group I was overjoyed to see an old friend I hadn’t seen in a while stepping in for the regular facilitator. A guy with a good few years in the Program, he has a way of saying things and giving off this very calm vibe that most if not all people pick up on. He wanted to convey a message to the group before settling into meditation. A message of how things where once very different. He described a situation he found himself in many years ago when he first got sober. He was out in Canada working on a farm. It was winter, the snow was deep and they were subtracting syrup from the maple trees. His job was to go round the trees, collect each bucket when it was full, take it to some kind of boiler, then after emptying them return each one back to the tree. He was frustrated and angry each time he fell on his face or sank to the waist. It was hard work. He was red in the face and constantly cursing, getting more tired and frustrated as each minute passed.

Then something happened. At the point of giving up and walking off he heard the sound of the syrup hitting the bucket, all at once, then picking out each individual tree. He described a scene of deep tranquility, solitude, and a wonderment of what was actually going on around him.

Recovery is such a beautifully powerful Journey, but its a double edged sword just like the scene our friend paints of his time in Canada. It is by no coincidence that I spend the majority of my waking moments working the 6th & 7th Steps! Humans ya gotta love them!! The world is fully populated by sick people, Im one of them. The problem is that once I became aware of that then my own defects (which I had remained blind to for 41 years) where mirrored back to me by people who are totally oblivious to the soul sickness that sweeps our species. Buddha was asked… “What have you gained in all your years of meditation? He replied – ‘Nothing! But let me tell you what I’ve lost… Ego, Anger, Resentment, Hatred, Self-Criticism, Self-Pity and Fear’

The joy of working the 12th Step, helping another is an incredible experience. Watching as the penny starts to drop. Listening as they describe what they can see as if its the first time, that gradual awakening process and then –  Booom!! I remember it well, that instant desire to share this with the world, all those other sick fucks.

I slow things down and we take a look around!!!

Bringing into the conversation what it says so simply in Chapter 5… “We are not saints.” Explaining to the new comer that this is my 12th Step, Im doing it for me. Im the still sick and suffering. 

Learning to accept who I am along with all my faults and shortcomings wouldn’t be possible if I then thought the process had rendered me whiter than snow and I had the right to Judge others.

I may not be, and God willing I will never (Just for Today) again be that crazy lunatic powered by self will run riot, anaesthetising the pain of unmanageability with copious amounts of drink and drugs, caring not one bit about who got caught in the crossfire.. But until I took the 1st Step in its entirety then I had every right to do that! Not very responsible, but then again I wasn’t the responsible type. I didn’t know any better! People may have pointed this out, Im not too sure how many, I wasn’t really listening!

The point is (We are willing to grow along spiritual lines) that this process of change I have went through (With the help of others and guidance from something much Greater than myself) and am still going through one day at a time, as wonderful as it is, has at times been incredibly painful. I’ve had more than one relapse, none of them where down to me wanting to drink. But the flip side of this is I’ve learned to love myself, I’m comfortable in my own skin at last (well most of the time). So if I deserve to reserve Judgement on myself after everything that happened during that long former life time, then why wouldn’t others be just as deserving of my forgiveness and compassion? Remembering always what the first 100 so Majestically put down on paper… “Perhaps they too are spiritually sick!

No one can get rid of the spirit of judgement by an effort of the will ~ Paul Tournier

People suffer because they are caught in their views. As soon as we release those views, we are free and we don’t suffer anymore ~ Thich Nhat Hanh

Its a process of subtraction ~ Greg C

D&O in Fresno