Reflecting on our moods can be fun. It’s good to be able to laugh at ourselves. We can be so concerned about our changing moods, fretting about feeling down and concerned about moments of high anxiety, that we may even be tempted to analyse ourselves and come up with some important sounding label.

It may be useful to simply accept that our moods fluctuate and that this is quite normal. Feeling up or down, calm or anxious is part of being alive. On reflection, we are usually able to pin point the reason for our change of mood and can sometimes have a good chuckle!

This blog is obviously not trying to make light of mental illness, it is simply saying that we sometimes take ourselves too seriously. In fact, even when contemplating our eventual death we can become far too morbid because we focus on the demise of our “important” selves and forget that we are an integral part of the great mass of humanity.

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He’s a stubborn old chap, well a time will come when stubborn doesn’t work anymore
She’s a control freak, controlling ways will have to stop at some point
There are many different ways of dealing with life, most work for a time but none work for ever
We have to give up the old ways and embrace the new
If we don’t, others will take over and we will have no say at all
So stop being an old fart, a young speed freak, a workaholic or whatever
And wise up to better ways of living and enjoy life to the full
Better by far to start adapting to change sooner than later
It will be less of a shock!

rudyardh

Yesterday I caught myself out praying for help with a plumbing crisis at our home. I reflected on this mental lapse and came to the conclusion that my “prayer” was in fact “an expression of hope” that the plumbers would find the cause of the obstruction. I think that is a good definition of prayer, “an expression of hope”. Spiritual maturity does not allow for “asking prayers”, God does not reach down and pull roots out of a sewage pipe! We have trained people who do that work. Praying for things or situations that we are perfectly capable of addressing, is pointless.

This morning I awoke to the news of the horrific terror attack in Nice. How do spiritually mature people deal with these unspeakable acts of violence? We do not pray and ask God to intervene! We pray to “prepare our minds for action”. We ask ourselves “what can…

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Trudging ‘cross mindless sands us hominids
Catching glimpse of universes yet unnamed
Struggling with visions sometimes sordid
Trying to get why we’re often blamed

Countless pillars loom before us
Propping theories yet untamed
What is true and what is false evades us
Brains befuddled by ideas still unclaimed

Where’d we come from, where’re we  going
All these millions some still chained
Reason becomes a hostage sewing
Garments of false hope ongoing

Sometimes a certain person crosses your path unexpectedly or a certain event occurs unannounced and you begin to wonder…this can be dangerous or simply unwise. Imputing experiences with all kinds of meaning can result in some strange “explanations”.

Some of us have become rather tired of religious people claiming relentlessly that God is behind everything that happens to them. They will go further and find divine reasons for almost everything that happens in their community or in the world for that matter.

We may rightly mutter to ourselves, surely they understand that there is such a thing as chance, or random effect, or serendipity, or a simple coming together of events. Much of the time events cannot and should not be connected. Stuff happens and often in a very arbitrary manner. Everything is not connected by someone up there pulling the strings.

Hopefully most people reading this blog will be nodding in agreement…until now! Sometimes, probably not often, things intersect in an uncanny way and it leaves some of us very puzzled. Once again, we are aware that we love to impute events with special meaning, so we need to tread carefully! We find meaning in a particular experience and our heart beats a little faster.

But obviously that does not imply that there is some other worldly significance! In fact, it matters not one jot if there is something weird behind the event. The important thing is that the event or experience is significant to us.
Having said all of the above, from time to time there is this very strange feeling that a particular incident is not random, or chance but has some special significance. Well, of course, this can simply be a figment of the imagination but it is quite nice to occasionally feel the rush that comes from experiencing a totally unforeseen event! Enjoy them when they come!

I touch the old man dying in his bed
I cry

I see the dog on the street long dead
I cry

I hear the squeal of a pig being slaughtered in the shed
I cry

I smell the burning of a village wreathed in red
I cry

I taste blood and think of the thorn stuck in his head
I cry

I count the street people standing in line waiting to be fed
I cry

You say I am morbid, seeing darkness instead of light
I say, I cannot enjoy the light until I have met the darkness

The neighbours, a sincerely lovely family, never travel or even take a holiday as far as we can see. A question, are they in some way seriously deprived? Maybe they are quite happy and contented staying at home, enjoying the pool, the barbecue and the warmth of their togetherness.
Travelling, for those who can afford the financial ruin, is said to be enriching and mind broadening. The sense of history in the old cities of Europe, the spanking newness of the cities in the East and the grandeur of the natural wonders of the world do not leave the traveler unmoved.
Here is a word of caution, try not to become the willing victim of the camera ‘phone! Twenty first century travelers are frantically snapping every new scene with their latest ‘phone and selfies are all the rage. They simply must post their snap shots on Face book immediately so that family and friends can be suitably impressed with their travels.
We have amazing technology at our disposal, that does enhance our lives, but it can also enslave us to the point of becoming immune to the real wonder of our surroundings. Mindfulness is still in vogue and hopefully always will be! Be fully present, fully aware, fully receptive in the moment. Look, listen, learn… let’s practice soaking up everything around us and we will be truly enriched. When all the social media messages have dried up, we will be able to re-live our exciting travels in the comfort of our armchairs.

After listening to yet another couple go hammer and tongs at each other in my rooms, I am about to pull my hair out!
Love…what’s that got to do with it! Of course they all confess their undying love for each other, they just can’t like each other or live with each other! Can’t live together, can’t live apart. They need the adrenalin rush that comes from abusing each other! They have the bull be the udder! They cannot grasp that marriage has nothing to do with falling in love or with maintaining an on-going ethos of romanticism.

It’s hard bloody work! It’s about learning to communicate in a clear, unambiguous, congruent, open, honest manner.
Think well before you speak, you obviously cannot retract your ill advised, hastily spoken words. Learn to phrase your thoughts and feelings carefully. Express them at an appropriate time and place. Ask for feedback and give feedback. Be willing to rephrase comments in a more palatable form. Above all, listen to each other intently.
Listen to the meaning as well as the words. Be attentive, focus fully on your partner thus showing your willingness to understand.

Stop all bad behavior! Stop attacking, stop blaming, stop all hair trigger reactions, stop accusing, stop shouting. Take responsibility where it is appropriate. Apologise where appropriate. Forgive and forget past hurts. Move on, do not keep digging up the past. Start a new way of interacting based on mutual respect, compassion, integrity, self-sacrifice, humility, honour. Marriage is about living together in a supportive, caring and nurturing way. Don’t even talk about love if you have not learned to do these things.

Joe: Another funeral! At our age it gets quite depressing…
Don: It does, and listening to all these silly tributes…
Joe: Sometimes the minister can’t even get the families names right!
Don: Darn embarrassing I say!
Joe: How many have you attended this year?
Don: I have lost count…maybe half a dozen?
Joe: Let’s hope this is the last one for a while…
Don: Absolutely!
Joe: By the way, what’s this dead chap’s name again?
Don: You mean you don’t know? Why It’s your funeral Joe…!!!

When the triangle is removed and the neatly arranged balls are scattered by the opening blow of the cue, well, it’s a bit like life! Everything is going smoothly, you have a sense of being in control and then all hell breaks loose when the pool cue of life breaks up the order with one mighty thrust.

Coloured balls roll rapidly across the table and settle in unforeseen and random positions. One little bugger may even roll straight into a handy pocket. The game has started and you are forced to deal with the chaos on the table.
You cannot ignore the balls, you have chosen to play the game…you have chosen life!

You take aim at a ball that hovers temptingly close to a pocket. It is the obvious way forward, first choose the life issue that appears to have the best chance of being resolved. Give it your full attention, ignore for the time being the other balls on the table.

When a crisis strikes it raises many issues not directly related to the crisis. Don’t try to connect the dots, that can be futile, even dangerous. Deal with one issue at a time, you cannot multitask in this game. Give it your full attention. Make space for the unknown, the unplanned…for random.

Approach each issue with an open mind, separate thoughts from feelings. Forget about expectations, assumptions and judgments. Try not to worry about the will of God. Trust yourself completely. Don’t take yourself too seriously.
Play the game well!