A good percentage of the population are level headed, safe characters. They are the ones that follow the advice of their elders, finish school, study in a field with good job prospects and put away a little of their income. When warned about the dangers of speeding in cars, excessive alcohol consumption and drug use they heed the warnings and exercise caution. Rules are common sense and apply to them.
And then there’s the rest of us.
My friend Tony is one of “the rest of us.” He studied for his pilot licence when he was 31. During his training the instructor was clear “ see those white fluffy clouds stay away from them, you wont be able to see and will lose all sense of direction.” On obtaining his licence he was flying solo and came across a white fluffy cloud, the first thought “don’t go near white clouds” was quickly overruled with “what would he know?” He entered the cloud and immediately heard the engines’ tone change as it hit the density of the air inside, the visibility was zero and he couldn’t determine if he was going up or down. Until then Tony had been a fan of the principles of prayer but had always omitted the G word. As the engine started to stall a prayer was bellowed out, clearly addressed to his maker. He survived to tell the tale and the big G remains with him to this day.
My initiation into the clan started a little earlier. When I was 5 my Mum left the room to help my brother on the toilet, her parting words were “don’t touch that iron it’s hot.” Like a moth to a flame I walked straight up to the iron and placed my flat palm on to the scolding plate, resulting in stuck skin and weeks of painful blisters. Now you would think that given such an early experience one would have no need to tempt fate..
Don’t hit your brother with a pool cue
Don’t let the neighbours’ bird out of it’s cage
Don’t lie to your parents
Don’t leave school at 14
Don’t drive without a licence
Don’t drive drunk
Don’t ring people drunk
Don’t smoke / inhale any substance that is not oxygen
Don’t have unprotected sex (teenagers are fertile little things)
Don’t try and sleep with your girlfriend’s boyfriend (protected or not)
Don’t try and meet your life partner in a front bar
Don’t move in with violent men
Don’t leave a womens’ shelter with an instant replacement
Don’t ring people drunk
Seriously.. stop ringing people drunk
That’s all before I was 20 and just the ones I’m prepared to go public with.
About half way through the next decade and somewhere down the road of “have you had enough yet?” I came across a book about meditation with a grinning Tibetan Lama on the cover. I was impressed with the explanation of the mind but some of the results that could be attained by training it seemed a little far fetched.
While concluding it’s all very well for a monk from Tibet I read the closing paragraph, “Don’t believe everything you read or hear even if it comes from a highly respected teacher or long established tradition and that includes this manuscript. Thoroughly examine all teachings with your own experience, then if you find them to be true you still won’t need to believe, you will know.”
Finally my kinda guy. It was then I realised I can put the same inquisitive energy into positive pursuits as I had into destructive ones. I began to practice mindfulness meditation with the same vigour I had pursued self defeating behaviours. Starting with a 30 day commitment my inner skeptic powered me on “lets just do it for a month properly and see what happens.” When the month finished the experiment was going so well I decided to check out a few other techniques and hey while I’m at it I might as well get me a Yoga mat and go and see what that lot are up to.
Im not suggesting it was all instant peace and transformation it was more that I got to see my own craziness and a fierce resistance to stuff that was good for me but it was my stuff, I put it there and now I could do something about its’ removal. So if you are one of “the rest of us” all I can say to you is
© all images and text carole migalka