Mind The Coffee.

I’m sitting outside my favourite cafe in Sunbury. I’ve got a mug of cappuccino, a fag, a notebook and I’m trying to write myself into the moment. I was reading a bit about mindfulness yesterday which talked about getting lost in the act of writing. I like the notion. Like the idea of being caught up in the act of something and forgetting about everything else. It made me think though, that when I write I’m surrounded by voices. Too often as I lay down each sentence I’m worrying about what this or that person will make of my ramblings. It’s not a good way to operate when writing and I’m starting to see it’s not a good way to live.

My readings about mindfulness has made me realise I don’t spend a lot of time in the present. I’m usually regretting the past, worrying about the future or flicking aimlessly from one to the other. Just lately all this internal stuff is wearing me out. Perhaps as I get older I’m realising how precious time is and I’m trying to break my old way of thinking. Over the years I guess I’ve just let my worries, my fears and my daydreams just run loose in the paddock of my mind. But maybe this mindfulness stuff has something in it. What if now and then I could just be in the now. What if I could wash the car and instead of thinking about ten different things at the same time. What if I could just feel the sponge sliding over each panel and marvel as the shine appeared. What if sometimes I took their advice, closed my eyes, take a few deep breaths and appreciated the moment.

I know logically that there is no one listening when I write. When I sit and scribble it’s just me the pen and the paper. It’s just my thoughts, my truths, my ideas of what the world is like. It may not be the way others see the world but it’s the way I see it, and that’s ok. Maybe in part I’m still a skinny young kid in the commission flats who wants to please everyone and be liked by everyone. But like I said before I’ve walked too many miles on that treadmill and I need a new pair of Reeboks. They reckon you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, but then again they also say your never too old to learn.

I read a book recently called the Art Of happiness. It was written by an american psychiatrist who had spent a lot of time interviewing the Dalai Lama. I loved the book. Loved the simple Buddhist philosophies and as usual thought, ” I know, I’ll become a buddhist and then I’ll find peace.’ But in the cold light of morning, outside the old coffee shop I’ve decided against it. I was a christian a while back, thinking talking to God would complete me. But all it did was make me feel guilty about everything I did or much worse, everything I enjoyed. So the concept of signing up for another religion leaves me a bit wary.

At 56, I’ve come to the realisation that my answers can’t be found in other mens quotes, however comforting and profound they might sound. Likewise my happiness can’t be based on shopping sprees. Cause I’m finding that the comfort of shopping is a bit like a cigarette, twenty minutes after I have one, I’m craving another. Where is contentment then? Where can I find my peace? Where am I in this crazy game of finding myself?  How can one man, however good, hold all the answers for another? After all a priest is just a bloke. The local vicar is no brighter than most. Both feel hunger, pain, love, anger, warmth and disdain, just like us mere mortals. How then can they instruct me on how to live my life. Maybe by looking for answers in religion, I’m really lookin for a quick fix and trying to escape the fact that after all these years, I’ve just got to be happy with me.

So anyway, I’m gonna give this mindfulness stuff a go. I’m going to try to seek out those verandah moments, and lose myself in the writing. And try rather than listening to the echo of others, to trust my voice even when it’s faint.

Keep The Faith People!


Flying Too High?

Well, here I am. It’s 6.00 am Sunday morning and I still Haven’t written the blog I’d intended to write on Friday. I’ve been procrastinating, spring cleaning, smoking, doing anything except writing. I feel like a bit of a fake. Over the past few weeks I’ve been teaching a writing class and urging new writers just to jump in and splash words around. But here I stand on the writing shore to scared to dip my feet in. When I started this blog I intended to post once a week regardless of how I felt. It was a personal challenge I’d set for myself. I wasnt’ thinking about an audience, because at the outset I didn’t imagine having one. Writing this blog was going to be pure therapy. It was going to be a way of ordering my racing thoughts and something that would exercise my writing muscles.

Much to my surprise along the way I’ve been blessed with a group of readers who cheer me on. You’ve stuck with me during the weeks when I was to crook to write. You’ve rode on trams and trains with me. Listened with your hearts when I’ve written about the black dog. And trudged around Sunbury at my side as I’ve stuffed Coles catalogues into letter boxes. The blog that was going to be a solitary activity has become a shared journey. So as I sit here this morning scratching around for something to write I feel the only way to go is to be honest.

Today I don’t have a neat little homily. Over the past week my energy levels have been through the roof. I’ve been rushing around jumping from one job to another. I’ve been feeling invincible. Feeling like life, talking, teaching were the easiest things in the world to do and that I’m doing them with panash. I’ve got to admit to you my friends that maybe I’m a bit manic.

I’ve never admitted that before. I’ve always been prepared to share when I’ve been depressed, but the highs that come with being bi polar I’ve always been reticent to talk about. I’ve always wanted people to think that the guy with the quick one liner is the real me. Fact is when I’m being my funniest I’m not being me at all. When I get manic I find it hard to focus on anything. My mind races like an out of control movie projector. Images flick across the screen of my mind and each dream each leap seems possible.

There I said it. It’s been a good week.It’s been too good a week and it’s time for me at 56 to be mature enough and honest enough to say It’s time to slow down. When I was unwell at christmas my doctor put my antidepressant up. I’m going to see her tomorrow and tell  her it’s time to put it back down. In the past I wouldn’t have done that. I would have ridden the high for as long as it lasted. I would have told myself that I am invincible, cool, articulate, sexy. I would have ridden the wave for all it was worth and ignored the fact that eventually it would have spat me out on the beach.

Maybe I’m getting a bit wiser. Maybe I’m just getting a bit more honest with myself. In some ways I’ve seduced myself into believing that I want to be that over-confident bloke, who always knows what to say and how to say it. I’ve wanted to be the guy with endless stamina who fancies himself as a bit of a rock star. But the truth is being that guy wears me out and is always followed to closely by a fall.

But this time I’m not going to tumble up onto the beach. This time I’m just going to be honest. I’m going to take action, ignore the lure of the high and save myself before I fall off the wave.