I’m guessing that this slightly less than positive title may have a somewhat limited appeal and not a huge natural audience. I am of course aware that it’s more “en vogue” to eulogise to the world about the success of mind numbing spiritual self transformations, rather than the story of how to throw one away. However I don’t really care. I am at least being authentic. And as I’ve come to learn, my main reason for writing is actually to make myself feel better, and if it helps others feel good about themselves along the way, then great. And if it doesn’t, then so be it.
Now before I start let me make it really clear that I am not your typical epiphany type of guy. Cynical to the core, humorous & sharp (on good days and/or with alcohol) but prone to bouts of laziness that make the idea of something momentous – like a eureka moment – far too much like hard work to be practical. And far more likely to be sniggered at. But believe me it happened, and it happened hard. This is my story – not of the explosion itself (maybe later) – but instead of how I handed my epiphany right back in to the epiphany prefect, and what I’m trying to do to come to terms with that.
The experience of “it” was quite simply mind blowing – a full measure of immense, with an equal splattering of intense. From the unknowing fog to the searing flash of light. It was like finding a beacon guiding the way to enhanced understanding. To realisation. To truth. Of situations. Of others. And most importantly, of myself. I felt whole and happy and worthy. And then the aftermath. To many I was a vastly improved version of my former self. A pleasure to be around. Positive. Energetic. Measured. To others I was some gatecrashing weirdo who had come to wreak havoc on their ordered world and I needed to be destroyed. And then on. Into the darkness – but now a known darkness as opposed to unknowing fog – and then finally left bereft, with only dreams of the dawn.
Talking of dreams, I’ve recently been having nightmares. Nightmares are something that dried up around the same time as my interest in Matchbox cars and Hornby trains. While I don’t remember all my recent mares, the latest does stick in my mind. I was happy at the top of a mountain when I started to descend, surrounded by close friends and family. Suddenly from nowhere a tiger appeared. No one else in the group seemed to recognise there was any risk in this tiger travelling with us in various forms of enclosed transportation as we hurtled at pace down the side of the mountain. Whilst it didn’t end in death, the sheets were certainly pretty damp the next morning. And I’m not yet old enough for the only other explanation, so it was sweat. Now you don’t need to be Freud to work out some of the nuances there. And I can tell you it’s not helping my quest for serenity and spiritual calm.
For the time honoured reason of the popularity of simple lists, I have broken down the woes of my journey to a list of 5 things. 5 key reasons for the predicament I’m in – for my losing my way.
1. Circumstances. The ultimate namby pamby excuse. Things that happen that you can’t control. Or more tellingly – decide NOT to control. For me these have included losing a stable and well paid job. Losing touch with friends. Moving from a palatial penthouse to a pokey one bed flat. And struggling with it all far more than I thought I would in the post-epiph bliss of being confidently in full control.
2. Weariness. Being a new born, live in the moment, positive thoughts only, confront your demons, sort your shit, courageous conversationalist is great; but by God doing it all the time is so bloody tiring! Especially when the fickle finger of fate does not seem to be tickling your belly button with much regularity, to help keep you engaged.
3. Time. The simple truth is that with the passage of time, unless you are right on top of your game and consistently backing your thoughts with actions, you do seep blindly back to your old ways. Or at least I do.
4. Guilt. This one’s hard to write. I tend to feel guilt. Too aware of the impact I have on others. Always have been. And my post epiphany impact was seismic. Once the chinks started in my armour the flood gates opened and guilt poured in. Any yet deep down I know that this guilt is ridiculous. I’m feeling guilty about the sudden change to a better and more authentic version of myself. Why can’t others see it? Why is it my fault. Too bad. It just is.
5. Lack of courage. Different to fear. I believe I have recognised how much fear held me back in the past and have dealt with it. But lack of courage is fears younger sister. A quieter, meaner and far more subtle relative. Less confronting but continually gnawing away at you. And currently beating me.
Those are the sad facts. Now – what to do about it. The infamous “they”, say that recognising the problem is half the battle. With that in mind I’m going try to work my way out of this hole. And the only way i can think of is to focus on the positives. The good bits that have lasted. And so here they are – the 5 positive things I’m left with to help me rebuild.
1. The writing. No surprises there. Writing soothes the angst and nurtures the soul. But you know that.
2. The running. I honestly don’t know where I’d be without finding running over the last couple of years. Undoubtedly the greatest externalisation of my personal transformation. From hater to addict. Long term friends and colleagues perpetually left gaping opened mouthed. I can’t imagine the day that my body finally gives in and I’m stripped of it.
3. The fleeting moments I still find when outside, where I remember to breathe deeply, smile at strangers and truly live in the moment. And not get locked up as a result.
4. The memories of the epiphany and all that came with it. And the realisation of how lucky I am to have experienced it.
5. The fervent yet fading hope that it will come back.
So there it is. My journey down from the mountain top in all its gritty reality. And despite the nagging at my core that I’ve squandered something precious and rare, it’s only fitting that I should end with hope. The hope. It’s always about the hope. As any passionate supporter of a mediocre sports team will tell you – it’s the hope that kills you. Well, here’s hoping…