Middle Life Management.
I met my Brother on Friday for a coffee and we had a great ole natter about life in general and more fittingly as we were in Queens library future work re Master’s and PhD’s; stuff like that. Although this was after my opening question “Well ho does forty five sit with you?”
I was curious to see his reaction as I vividly remember my own reaction to the same question one year and nine months previous, without the coffee and without the company of people who know one inside out. He looked at me and said in his own unique way, “you know what? It sits very nicely thank you. I’m very comfortable with it. It suits me.” I let a roar out of me as I’m prone to do and sat there beaming as I realised that we had both made it to middle life/middle age.
I will draw the line here as our life journeys have been apart and extremely dissimilar but we sat there in the library on Friday with comfort in our own skin, mind and body.
So what’s the secret and where’s this leading to I here you say. Well, I can’t speak for my brother and I will never do so; so what follows is my views and not anyone else’s. I strongly believe that most of us have been born without madness and lunacy and it is only when we wade through the treacle of life do we get bogged down with the crap that surrounds us. I was sent this short clip on Facebook last week as there was much furore around a possible aurora borealis in Northern Ireland. The way I like to think of it is that life is a bit of an aurora borealis and all that we do is a load of borealis if one takes time to stand back and look at it; the bigger picture that is. I urge you to take a look at this clip and ask your ‘Self’ “Why do my problems seem so big when in the grander scheme of things I am so small?
The idea that we are perched on top of a spinning bomb amid billions upon billions of stars, space, and infinite time is real mind twister but it allows ‘me’ to become more levelled. Life is precarious, time place, chance, luck, good/bad fortune, circumstance etc. All of these combine and funnel us through life but we/I/You are no different from anyone else. We all go through life this way but it’s how we deal with the present that’s important. History is history. Future is future. Only ‘now’ this very minute is how we make our life choices. I never know what I’m going to do when I wake up in the morning. I know for a fact that I will wake up (until one day I don’t) and until then I will continue make my decisions on a daily basis. These choices are formed over time by hap and circumstance and gleaned from many different knowledge bases; mostly painful. The trick is not to worry too much. Have a rough plan and strive for hope and dreams but don’t expect everything to work out. And, is more often than not they won’t but for goodness sake let it sit, let it be, let it go. Accept what it is. The beauty of all of this is knowing what acceptance is. My wee course teaches this so if you want to find out more you will have to visit your local Art of Living Foundation.
The most amazing thing about accepting being in middle life is that I don’t really get annoyed about the stuff that used to annoy me. Ironically as I write this two young students are chatting away right beside me. I’m in the ‘silent zone’ not the ‘whisper zone’ but I let it go because I do the same and it only last for a minute or two. I left HMP just over six months ago with a burning hatred for the people in it and everything that it stands for. I vowed I would never rest until certain people where held accountable for how they treated me and others. As I mentioned in previous blog about the fireworks at Brixton forgive me if I repeat myself but I think this has been the pivotal point of my acceptance of what I’ve just been through – letting it go. In November 2008 I was sentenced to twelve years in Prison serve six in custody six on licence. On New Year’s Eve 2008 I sat and watched the Fireworks on the telly as the chimes donged away in the background. Simultaneously I looked out my top floor en-suite hotel room Block C Cell 24 and saw the very same fireworks soar over the rooftops from the Embankment not more than half a mile away. I changed the channel after the twelfth dong only to find Dave Gilmour playing “Shine on You Crazy Diamond” on the other channel. I remember the wee voice in my head saying “How the hell are you going to get through this you crazy fekin diamond? Five more of these to go. How will you survive? Will you survive yourself more like?”
For me, life in prison was a very long tightrope walk. I could have been handed a life sentence most days. I sit here now and think “I simply cannot believe I made it?” However, I won’t dwell on this as the point I’m trying to make is that on New Year’s Eve 2013 I sat and watched the fireworks in my own house, on my own, free from drink and drugs and more free of me than I’ve ever felt in m entire life. I turned the TV up as loud as I dared, listened to the music and I roared at the telly. The fireworks were spectacular and the finale enabled me to scream at the world and vent even more of a release and then to quietly accept where I’d been and what I’d came through. Around 1.00am I looked over the texts and messages and conversations I’d had on Facebook with different people in different parts of the world. I’d shared a live meditation with Sri Sri and thousands of others as they’d seen in the New Year in Germany around 11pm our time. I’d Skyped with mate in the Bahamas’, received a text from my friend in Dublin, chatted with a friend in California and got another text from a dear friend who lives directly across the road from me. It was then that i realised that i was on my own in this world. But, and there’s always a but, I was not alone. This was the moment I cracked and cried and smiled and laughed and accepted that it is what it is. Well done you. You made it.
Thus, I have decide to base my PhD on how all of this sits within a fare and just society. I should still be mad and angry at those who caused me harm, but I’m not. It simply doesn’t matter to me any more. I suppose this is how the system continues to survive in its present state. People accept what has happened to them and move on and the old system breathes a sigh of relief and carries on. I think I had my mid life crisis every day in prison and this stayed with me until recently. I will continue to bring my experience to the fore in my poetry, my ramblings and via my academic endeavours. I haven’t gone away you know. I’ll leave you with a quote from a young man in a programme called ‘Tutu’s Children’ which was on Al Jazeera this time last year. He was talking to a fellow South African who was white about apartheid “I can forgive you for what you have done. But, I don’t have to forgive you to move on.”