Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Being moved

I have just begun to learn to play Memory from Cats. Andrew Lloyd Webber is not my favourite composer but this music is OK (My teacher gave me the right to veto it!) and it is a useful piece to practice some piano skills to. Last night my piano teacher Rebecca played it through for me. I was very moved by her playing, lifted up and got tearful. She has a real talent as a performer but has not performed in years.

I would die for such talent. Indeed with only a fraction of such talent I would be out there performing but that's me. Rebecca's extensive high powered training as a musician had a closing down or spoiling effect on her as a performer.

Part of me has always been shy almost reclusive but another part which seems to get bigger is, for want of another word, a performer. I love working with people around stuff that interests me and touches me and them. Thankfully I no longer feel drawn to being a therapist but I love facilitating people's doctorate study (how weird is that?). I love teaching mature students who are often eager and motivated to learn. I love speaking to 400 people for an hour at conferences and I love working all day with 20 people in a workshop on spirituality. And I love performing my poems usually as a Manky poet.

My career as an academic is probably on its way out as I have lost the urge and energy to keep holding the space that I believe needs to be held, the currents in my institution and in me are flowing away from this. I would need a lot of holding and support to carry this work on beyond the next year or so and frankly no-one apart from some of my students gives a damn and that is ok.

But I want to continue to touch people through my spoken and written words and of course through my silences. I want to continue to spark others to find their voices. And If I ever get to grow a musical talent inside me one hundredth that of Rebecca's I will be out their playing!

I was and still am a small town boy who 'jumped the tracks' by going to a Grammar School - thank God - and this and a student grant(!) got me easily out of the town I was born into which I could never go back to. I found people able to echo back to me who I was and so began the long slow, too slow perhaps finding my place in the world. I can never forgot that early gap between who I was and the place and family I was born into. Education has saved my life in a very real existential sense.

So? well find a way to be more of who you are and less of who you think you ought to be and that way some kind of fulfilment and happiness lies.

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

Meeting Q again

The Boss consults his spiritual director Q once more:

- Hi Q
- Hi Boss, what brings you here?
- Well Q, I have this feeling, this fear, that I might not ever reach retirement from work, almost a feeling of dread that my work here will go on forever, or at least until I drop, or perhaps even worse until I am incapacitated..
- Hmm… there is so much in what you are saying. I hear your fear… None of us knows when we will die or when we might become incapacitated… but you do have some choices however limited
- True and I have begun to work through my things to do when I retired list. The trouble is I have got too busy…
- Good problem!
- Too busy, so the only way forward is to semi retire!
- Sounds good
- I just get anxious that I’ll never escape work
- Would that be so bad?
- Well it would if it carries on like it is now
- Hmm
- And there is so much I think I want to do but I can’t truly know until I retire. It may all be an illusion…
- The word retire implies a retreat
- Retreat now there’s a thought…. Retirement as a withdrawal from my current work followed by a retreat and then who knows?
- That sounds better!
- It sure does – retirement -> Retreat -> new life

Wednesday, 7 July 2010

A heart beat away -poem

A Heart beat Away

In California
Dreaming of you
Separated by thousands of miles
But closer than ever
A heart beat away

I carry you in side me
A heart beat away

Am I inside you?
A heart beat away

For I am missing bits of me
A heart beat away

The older I get the more scattered I feel
A heart beat away
One of these days the wind will come for me
A heart beat away

Tuesday, 6 July 2010

The Boss meets with Q again

The Boss meets with Q his spiritual adviser
- Hi Q
- Hi Boss, long time no see
- Yes, well (the Boss squirms ion his chair) I’ve been busy…
- There’s no need to justify
- No… no but it’s true
- So what brings you here today?
- I have been wrestling with serious illness and death and what it means
- Hmm
- I have realised though it is hard to accept that I can’t do anything about death – it is inevitable - and I don’t believe in physical resurrection... maybe my soul or spirit continues but I think it’s Heaven or Hell split polarised like that. I am more inclined to Carl Jung’s idea that if there is an after life it is rather like this one…
- You sound pretty figured about all this
- Sound yes, thought out maybe, but it doesn’t feel that way at all. I am scared of death even though if it is the end I wont be there to be scared of it. I am scared of dying though it is inevitable, I am sacred of the pain of it and most of all I am scared of becoming older and frailer
- I here a lot of fear there
- Sure and I see friends of mine becoming frailer and I think what’s the point of that? Why can’t we all just die in our sleep?
- Good question
- And?
- Look it is clearly not what happens
- Yes I know that (the Boss begin to get grumpy)!
- Can you not accept that even increasing frailty could be purposeful?
- It’s hard especially when it involves me directly or indirectly
- True but you will just (‘just!’ interjected the Boss) you will just have to live with it
- OK…OK but that still doesn’t explain it
- I know, I guess we are asked to surrender to what it is
- Not that damn word ‘surrender’ again. I am sick of surrender
- What is is what is
- OK Q but you don’t have to be so smug and gnomic
- I think I would insulting your intelligence to suggest that karma might be being resolved
- And in any case if God is so compassionate and merciful why do any of us suffer?
- Death, frailty and now suffering!
- Yes Q
- I know it is a challenge to faith but the world is as it is and we have to find a way of best living with what it and raging against the inevitable is probably rather futile
- A bit of rage never hurt anyone!
- Makes a change from fear
- Rage, rage against the dying light!
- Why not… and afterwards?
- Peace

They fell into a deep silence. In its depth the questions and challenges fell away. The Boss became blissful fro no reason other than the experience of the silence. At last he had an answer to his nagging questions as they dissolved in the silence.

[As told to me this morning]