Saturday, 30 October 2010

Kindred Spirit

Tania Ahsan, the editor of Kindred Spirit magazine, has kindly published a piece of mine in the NOV/DEC issue.

Check out their website at:

and, whilst your there you might as well order a copy! : )

(I'm on page 76..)

Falling Leaves (A short story)

The following is a short story I wrote for an exercise at my writing class. My writing tutor (Gale Barker) said it had to start with the sentence, 'Almost anything in life is easier to get into than to get out of'. I thought the story would fit in well with the content of this blog. I hope you will agree. 

Falling Leaves

Almost anything in life is easier to get into than to get out of. Trust me on this one, I should know. It’s three minutes past nine, I need to pay a visit to the gent’s, and the nurse is late again. Three minutes late, to be precise. I would try and get out by myself but the last time I tried I fell to the floor like a sack of new baby spuds.
It’s funny, this aging business. I seem to be split in two: my body and my mind. My body has been declining since the day I was born, unfortunately that’s the way of the outer-world. Whereas my mind, well . . . my mind is like a seed that’s constantly being watered by experience. Have you noticed that I say my body and my mind? When desires of the outer-world start to lose their grip and you feel sure your exit is near, you start to look within yourself for answers, whereas before you just looked ‘out there’. So let me say it again: my body. Does that mean I’m not my body? My mind - does that mean I’m not my mind? Does it mean I’m separate from them? Separate yourself from your body and what do you have left? You have I left. Now ask, who am I? It’s one of those taboo questions that people don’t like to delve in to, just in case they find something out about themselves that they don’t like.
               You may think I’m some crazy old fool who can’t get out of bed. Or an old fart who needs help to go to the toilet and is losing it a bit up there, but let me tell you, I’m more with it than ever before.
            My eyes are tired, yet I see more clearly than when I was twenty. My ears are worn out like an old pair of headphones, yet I hear sounds that many people ignore.
            This is just what happens when you go within.
            Just yesterday, for instance, I showed Nina, a pleasant young nurse at the home, how to go within and see the world the way it’s supposed to be seen. It was a beautiful autumn day with a slight cool breeze, similar to today, I think. Amazing, it was. Her job is to wheel patients around the gardens for their daily dose of fresh air; poor beggar. After about five minutes she parked me up next to a bench so she could sit and have a smoke. Nothing wrong with that. I used to like the odd cigarette now and again until they took my Yelena away ten years ago. I never touched one after that.
            Where was I?
            Ah yes, so she was smoking away and I asked her, ‘Why do you smoke?’
            She looked at me and then at the cigarette.
            ‘Bored, I guess,’ she said.
            ‘Bored?’ I blurted out. ‘How can you be bored? Look around you!’
            She was a bit taken aback by my shrill response, but I couldn’t help it. Here is this twenty-something young lady with a pair of perfectly functioning legs; her joints don’t ache with arthritis; she has all her own teeth and she can take herself to the damn toilet whenever she pleases!
            ‘I don’t know why I’m bored,’ she said, shrugging her shoulders.
            ‘Look at this tree,’ I said, pointing to the large oak that was casting its shadow over us. ‘What do you see?’
            She looked up and then back down at me.
            ‘Just a tree,’ she said frowning.
            ‘Just a tree?’ I laughed. ‘We humans label everything. We do this to help us believe that we know what something is, to separate it from something else. Labels are just noises made with our teeth, tongue and the roof of our mouth. Nina, I asked you to look and you labeled. Now try again, without the label. What do you see?’
            She looked up and started to concentrate on the giant tree. After thirty seconds she looked at me with a big smile and a tear rolled down her cheek. She wiped it with the back of her hand and laughed and looked embarrassed.
            ‘Well?’ I said smiling.  
            ‘What have you done to me, Mr Harty?’ she said laughing. ‘A feeling of joy came over me and I saw the tree in a whole new light. What the hell happened?’
            I took her hand.
            ‘Well, first of all, love, call me Fred. Second of all, you saw the tree as if for the first time. But not only that, the I you speak of when you say I was one with the tree.’
            She looked up at the tree again and smiled.
            ‘What do you mean?’
            ‘You’re not who you think you are, Nina,’ I said. ‘None of us are. Only a handful of people have done what you just did. You became one with the tree. Now you can practice the same method with flowers, animals and even people. Practice it with things you hear, too.’
            ‘How do you know all of this stuff?’
            ‘I’m the book you judged,’ I said smiling. ‘And believe me I’ve had years of collecting pages.’    
            Five minutes past nine now. Where are they? I’m busting. My Yelena used to get annoyed with the size of my bladder. Not long after we married we went to visit her parents who lived down south. We got on the train in good time but I felt I needed to go to the men’s. Now, the trains back then didn’t have toilets on them, so I ran off to the toilets in the station. She was not a happy bunny. ‘What if the train had gone?’ she shouted when I sat back down. ‘What if I had to go all that way by myself?’ I always laughed at her when she was angry. It was mostly over what ifs, and they stayed that way, too.
            I miss her. I miss her company. I miss her smell and the sound of her voice. I hope she’s waiting for me when my time comes.
            Death is another one of those taboo topics. Death and people don’t tend to mix, do they? It makes me laugh how people in the west respond to it. “Don’t talk about death, you’ll tempt fate and it’ll come knocking on your door.”
            I made peace with death when my Mum died over fifty years ago. I once heard that death is like taking off a tight shoe. I like that. I like to think that my Mum, Yelena and all those who have come and gone before me have had that same ‘Ahhh’ feeling.
            People think I’m crazy when I talk about death. ‘Stop it,’ they say. But why? What is there to be scared of?
            Good old Jimmy, who used to be in the bed opposite me, died two days ago. He came to this place the same day as me and five weeks later I watch them take his body away. Covering it up like it was something that shouldn’t be seen; like they don’t want to remind us of where we’re all heading. Do you know which part of Jimmy survived death? The I he spoke of when he said I. Although I doubt he knew that.
            I’ve seen people talking to someone who they say is stood at their bedside. I’ve seen people wave to thin air and say things like, ‘I thought you had died’.
            Of course, I don’t know if there’s anything else after we pop our clogs. Do I want to know? Not really. I like the whole idea of having blind faith. It allows my imagination to wonder.
            Ten past nine and she stumbles in without a care in the world. 
            ‘Morning, love, sorry I’m late,’ she says. ‘Are you busting for the toilet again?’
            ‘I bloody am, you beggar.’
            She laughs.
            ‘Who were you talking to when I came in?’ she asks.
            ‘Never you mind.’
            She helps me up out of my bed and lowers me into the wheelchair. I look out of the window and see the golden leaves blowing off the trees onto the flower beds. A single leaf with brown, red and yellow on it blows against the window and stays there as if it’s taking a peek inside.  
I smile at it.
‘That’s a beautiful leaf,’ I tell her.
‘Why’s that, Fred?’
‘It fell with ease at its own unique time. Look at its colours, its shape. There's no other leaf in the world like it.’
          ‘You could say that,’ she says fiddling with the brake on the wheelchair. ‘I prefer summer, to be honest with you, nice and warm.’
            ‘Autumn's just as nice if you put an extra jumper on.’
            She smiles.
            She wheels me past Jimmy’s empty bed and out onto the corridor towards the toilet.
            And that's when it happened.
           ‘Fred, are you OK? Fred? Fred! I need help over here! Fred can you hear me? Fred? I need help!’

‘Ahhh. Hello, love.’

Friday, 29 October 2010

Suffering is Learning

From the age of 14 to 24 I had a dream that I so desperately wanted to come true. That dream was to become a successful recording artist. I wanted to be on the front cover of every music magazine under the headline 'THE NEXT BIG THING!' I dreamt of signing along the dotted line and headlining venues here, there and everywhere. Every night (honestly, I can't remember a night I missed) before going to sleep I would visualise myself on stage with thousands of people dancing to the music that I had created. I could smell the sweat, the alcohol; I could hear the bass thumping my chest from the sound system that shadowed the crowd. 

Well - I got what I asked for. At the age of 23 I signed along the dotted line and began to release EPs and headline venues across the UK. 

Was I happy?

Hell no.

All those years my mind had created a false image of what I was to expect. The reality of it didn't match up to that image at all.

I became miserable, and as the months stumbled forward I ended up nearly having a nervous breakdown (people who know me will know that doesn't sound like me). 

I can remember crying on my bed not knowing what to do.  

I turned to friends (thanks, Coxy. R.I.P, man) who listened and were honest with me.

I held my mobile phone, took a deep breath and made the call that I knew in my heart was the right decision.

I quit what I had worked nearly ten years to achieve.

It took me ten years to realise that what I had wanted for so long, the thing I had dreamt of for nearly a decade, wasn't for me.

What a relief that was.

Suddenly the sun started to shine again. A huge weight had been lifted from my sore shoulders.

I was free.

...And everything was OK.

If only I had seen that when I was stressing over the drama I had found myself taking so seriously.

The reason I'm telling you this is because whatever you're going through, whatever's causing you stress and anxiety, it will come to an end.

It will pass.

And everything will be fine.

I would like to think that you're on the right track that is unique to you.

After my melodrama where I cried like a small child who has just tripped over his own foot, I realised that it was all a learning experience. 

So, for me, suffering is learning.

Remind me that the next time I'm complaining over something petty like getting a parking ticket.

Happy travels.....

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Watch the Sky

I looked up at the autumnal sky yesterday and it made me laugh out loud.

It dawned on me; the sky is a constant reminder that our so called problems in our illusory dramas are incredibly small.

'Watch the sky.
Keep looking.
Watch the sky.
Keep looking.
Keep looking.
Keep Looking.
Tell this to everybody wherever they are.'

Transglobal Underground - Temple Head

Monday, 25 October 2010

Lucky You!!

I felt calm this morning as I drove to work. It was a fresh, crisp morning and the sun was just beginning to cover everything in a blanket of gold. As I stopped at a set of traffic lights I began to watch people as they walked to work. They all had the same expression on their faces; a look of concern, a look of being lost in thought, lost in their dramas. 

Every person I looked at seemed to be searching for anything that lasts forever. Constantly on the hunt for something that can't or won't slip away - and that thing they're hunting for 'will bring them happiness and fulfilment'.

The hunt goes on and on.

That thing is not out there.

We live in the world of forms, and all forms are in a constant state of flux. 'All forms are unstable' as Eckhart Tolle says in A New Earth.

All forms will become formless within time.

Contentment and peace are found in being, not doing (and especially not in buying).

Open your ears.

Open your eyes.




It's all here, right in front of you.

Watch the universal breath enter your dense physical form and then calmly leave - only for the cycle to start again all by itself.


Lucky you!!

Thursday, 21 October 2010

Bad Vibes

I could sense the low feeling gradually creeping up on me yesterday, and it was just that - a feeling. I found it very easy to 'blame' something, anything, that I thought might have caused this crappy feeling to arrive uninvited, but I took a step back - mentally.

Instead of making the feeling a part of my story (the story of Gavin) I tried my best to separate myself from it, becoming the observer of the feeling. Now I say 'try' because, depending on the intensity of the feeling, it can be very difficult. They suck you in and you end up looking for people or circumstances that may have caused it, when, in fact, they've got nothing to do with it.

When you become the observer you see that these 'bad vibes' (which are not bad at all) are perfectly natural. They come and go like waves and it's entirely up to you how long they stay in your presence. If you cling to them, making them a part of your story - your drama - then they will last so much longer than if you just watch them do their dance.

Just accept them as a feeling, a change in your energy vibration and nothing more.

My star sign is Cancer, a sign renowned for being moody, but also a sign that's governed by the moon.

I'm fascinated with the moon. I could spend hours just looking at it. I find it very meditative and therapeutic. I'm now very aware of when there's a full moon; I get very irritated and almost depressed and lose focus. My thoughts get amplified and I end up taking them literally and to heart. 

This is something I need to work on and prepare for in the future!

Does anybody else feel this?

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

The Book People

On Sunday my girlfriend and I were watching Jamie Oliver's new program, the one where he makes a decent meal in 30mins.

I said to her, 'I'd like the book that accompanies this.'

The next day she rang me from work and said, 'You know the 'Book People' that come to my work? Well they have that book you mentioned. Do you want it?'

Yes please!

She came home with it that day - the day after I had asked for it!

The law of attraction at work what!

Check'm out:

The 'R' Word

I was wondering how long it would take for there to be cuts in the office I work in: today the 'R' word was mentioned for next year. Supposedly they're getting rid of about 50 of us.

Never mind. What will be will be, I guess.

Even though there's the credit crunch and the government are making cuts left, right and centre, I still think there are plenty of jobs out there. 

No need to worry.

Everything always sorts itself out.


Friday, 15 October 2010

Perfect Pond

Every Monday from 18:30 to 20:30 I do voluntary work at my local hospice. On the signing in sheet I'm down as 'Security'. This means I have to go round the gardens checking the doors and windows are shut properly and there're no 'undesirables' hanging around on the premises.

A lot of work has gone into the gardens to make them what they are now. A path snakes its way through the flower beds, with benches dotted beneath large oaks. It leads to a pond where, in Summer, you can watch the newts beneath the murky water. It was this pond that, on Monday, I sat and meditated for a few minutes. It was just getting dark; I listened to the river (that's just beyond the boundaries of the gardens) crashing behind me and watched as the bats caught their supper above me. 

An overwhelming sense of gratitude came of over me. 

Everything was perfect.

...and it still is.