I had a very odd dream a few months ago: in it I was diagnosed with terminal Cancer and the Quack told me I had a mere 3 months to live. I guess the dream was no doubt inspired by poor old Wilco Johnson’s recent brush with the Reaper, tho’ I’m happy to say he’s doing fine and Cancer free. Anyways, it was a beautiful day, and as I left the surgery the sun shone warm and brightly, and the birds were singing loud enough for me to hear. I thought that if indeed I only had 3 months of my life left to live, would I really want to feel bad or negative about anything for the rest of my days?
I woke up, not a little disconcerted, the dream still running around my head. And the thought of wasting the rest of my life with bad feelings and thoughts really came home to me: surely whether I had Cancer or not, shouldn’t I let go of all of my negatives? Why waste whatever time I have left on fear or worry? And I guess that dream has had a serious effect on my outlook……
I reached the grand old age of 58 recently. When I was a young Punk rocker of 20, a 30 year old was old to me. And a 58 year old positively geriatric! Anyway, back then I felt it was unlikely I’d live beyond 30, and proceeded to cane the shite out of the sex, drugs, booze ‘n’ Rock’n’Roll lifestyle, to great effect I might add.
I guess my life has been spent mostly having good times, and I can’t say I’m ashamed to say it. Whilst some of my friends were working in a noisy factory, damaging not just their hearing but their general health in sheer drudgery, I was laying on a beach in South Florida, devolving into an Alligator, plotting my next adventure……
So I asked myself recently, now that you’re 58, have you discovered the secret to living a happy life? Well I guess I have, or should I say, several wise and beautiful people showed me the way to. Just 2 words: let go. Let go of the past, let go of the future, enjoy the now.
In 1990, I lived with a wonderful gal by the name of Kat Young. She was from Cherry Hill, in New Jersey. It’s been 25 years since I last saw her, but she left a huge imprint on my life. She was an amazing woman. And she gave me a book called “Love is letting go of Fear” by Gerald Jampolsky, and via my Cancer dream, I was led back to it recently. I’ve read it countless times, and it still resonates more than any other book about philosophy or spirituality that I’ve ever read. And God knows, I’ve read quite a few.
It’s a really simple concept, as a book it has few chapters, but they’re all totally pertinent. To summarise: a lot of the time we wander around either being sad about the past, or worried about the future, both of which states are total fantasy. It’s like we constantly project old movies of our past onto our present. Sure, the past exists ( if only in our memories ) and in my case, I can look back and remember some wonderful times. But they’re dead and gone, as wonderful as they might be. And the future is a matter for conjecture, as many of us have found out, via losing our nearest and dearest.
Life is transient, continually changing, and when we impede it’s progress I believe it can make us spiritually unwell. It also prevents new people from connecting with us, something we all desire in one way or another.
Above all, what we should be looking for is peace of mind. And again, for me that has never been found in material possessions, in fact as I get older, the less I have, the happier I am. When I sleep I own nothing ( said the Lovely Roshi ).
So how do we find that peace? Well, most of us have a faulty perception of reality. We rely on our external senses, which are easily tricked, and we are fed lies by the world around us. Television, the internet, radio and newspapers continually feed us lies, mostly to rob us of our money and control us, but also to make us fearful of the world we live in, and divide us as a nation and a people.
As anyone who has lost family or close friends will attest, the only lasting thing that gets left behind when someone dies is love, pure and simple. That tells me that love is the one permanent thing that we can rely on. My Mother’s clothes are long since decayed, all the material things she valued are dust or landfill, but the one thing that still shines from my memories of her is her love, it is indestructible, and I love it.
What we own now will vanish into history eventually. Our material goods are passing trinkets, so much rubbish. But the love between me and my Ma and Pa simply won’t go away, it’s still strong and beautiful and warm and alive. And I can say the same for all of my dear departed.
A lot of us are continually fearful: thinking of the wonderful times we had in the past ( or how we re imagine those times ) we get sad and afraid, because as we get older we begin to think we will never experience those warm and happy feelings again. And whilst we think this way, we block any chance of happiness now, because we are living in a fantasy past, and that past is just that, it has passed. I spent years reliving all the happiness I had with several women that I absolutely loved and adored, not realising I was killing any chance of meeting a new wonderful someone.
We also worry about our future: what if this happens/what if that happens? We are living in a completely negative fantasy world. We simply cannot anticipate the future, by and large, it does not exist, yet we spend our time, hastening our death, by worrying about what might be. We are wasting our time……
We really do need to get a grip: many of us would like to believe in an afterlife and reincarnation, but many religions and philosophies tell us we have no chance of experiencing either unless we let go. Let go of our past and our future, and see the world in a constant now, otherwise we are reliving the same mistakes and guilt that we’ve always held so dear, even tho’ we know they’re toxic.
When we realise everyone in our society is afraid, we can begin not only to feel more compassionate towards them, but towards ourselves too. And when we feel compassion, we can begin to forgive, and when we forgive, we let go, and then we have peace of mind. Everybody knows that holding onto a grudge, continuing to be angry about something is like being poisoned: it affects our whole existence as our world is coloured by anger and rage.
I guess I can say I’ve made peace with my past, and now I can let go of it. Sure, certain things remind me of beautiful people that have long since departed, that’s only natural. And I can enjoy those memories, tho’ unlike the past, I don’t have to live them every day. I’m not saying letting go is easy, we have to train our minds and become more compassionate. And sure, there’s still times when my anger rises, and I have to press the spiritual reset button and pray. If we can make ourselves feel really bad about something, surely we can make ourselves feel really good too?
By and large I have few regrets, I’ve had a wonderful life and I’m thankful I’m still alive ( against my better efforts ) and now I’m ready for part 2……