Friday 27 December 2013


You mustn't be yourself, they say. You must follow our path, for it is the right one. They lie. You must avoid yourself and consume as we do, for it is good. Hide from yourself and be thankful for the hiding places we provide, they declare. Meaning is meaningful only with us. We will take your responsibility and answer for you, they answer. Emptiness is fullness at our table, they disassembling say...but, I reply, my heart remains hungry for something more.

Verily quoth I, the meaning of the world and those in it is equally unsubstantiated, untestable and meaningless as the perception of it. Authority is inconsequential pageant for, quoth I, all equally afear the dark of an indifferent world and their unjustifiable position in it. They all cry, "what is left?" 

I say unto you, "Honesty".

Take off the masks we wear, take back responsibility, learn to be yourself in all you are, learn to make mistakes because in their meaninglessness we can make of them as we wish. Does the burden of the childhood question "why?" scare you? Good, be scared! They scoff and laugh, "You don't know that?!" I say, "I'm glad I don't know your answer!" To pretend to know is to deceive yourself and close off your nature. Learn to say, "I don't know ". Question everything because there is no absolute reason we can wrap around our curse of consciousness to give us comfort. Your answer and your comfort is equally as made up as mine. We are in this together, not separately.

Question everything! There is no more honest way to be than with "I don't know". Only then can we know ourselves!

Thursday 26 December 2013

What makes the possible actual?

There are endless possibilities but seemingly only one actual world that we can experience. Where are these possibilities if not in the actuality of the world? What makes the possible actual?

It is only with hindsight that we can truly know whether a possibility can be made into an actuality in the world. Therefore, an observer is needed to verify at this moment if a possibility has occurred and become actual. However, human observers are limited in that we think one thought after another and are therefore stuck in the present; the future is unknown to us. We can predict what might happen in the future by assuming what happened in the past will continue to occur in the future. But the further we try to leap from the present the more unlikely we will be able to predict what actually will happen. This is because of the vast number of variables in the world, including the free will of others. If we avoid the present, we are left with only a world of possibilities.

As observers we are the ones who introduce possibility into the world; we create it to enable us to navigate a path through our complicated world. But the world is a series of actualities and takes little notice of our possibilities even when we try to impose our free will onto the world (unexpected things happen and unexpected consequences of our actions can occur). In other words, possibilities are only predictions located in our heads as actual thoughts; the world is not a possibility, it can only be actual. Thought seems to detach us from the immediate sensory input we are receiving and in its place enable us to sense possibilities; we do this by taking all we have learnt, chopping it up into its component parts and being free to glue these parts back together in any configuration. For example, the idea of "seal sister" isn't actual (I don't have a seal for a sister) but its component parts ("seal" and "sister") are things in the world I know about. We become lost in the thick forest of these sorts of possibilities.

We can manipulate the world to make things like computers and phones but we can't change the laws that govern such things; we can only discover them. The discovery can be made actual. Similarly, we can live a life but we can't choose the state in which we exist; it is only a possibility glued together from the component thoughts "we create things", "I was created" therefore "I created + myself". Thoughts only influence other thoughts within ourselves. Thought can influence something outside of yourself if it is translated into action. However, in this translation process the possibility is reduced down to an actuality of the world.

Therefore, living with Parkinson's requires me to focus on the actuality of the disease and not get lost in the possibilities, which are just thoughts with limited influence. Using the actual as the basis of my response I have more chance of successfully changing the context of the disease to cope better with it. For example, I can stubbornly ignore the presence of Parkinson's in my life but this makes the symptoms worse because I am not adapting to them.

One crucial aspect of thought that is supremely beneficial in dealing with difficulty is the privileged access we have to our thoughts. We have the ability to think different thoughts, which can trigger many different trains of thought. For example, when I was diagnosed I could have thought, "My life is over" and closed myself down. Instead, I thought, "There is space for me in my disease", which opened up thought and the world again.

We cannot change the fundamental actuality of the world but we can think and act to achieve a closer, more beneficial relationship with it. 

Wednesday 25 December 2013

The richest person in the world

Material wealth is immaterial to the true value of the state of your existence. In a world devoid of internal justice the worth you place on yourself is not determined by how much of the world you own nor is it the power you have over other people. These are fabricated social constructs; diamonds are just another form of carbon, gold is just another metal, political power is illusionary, heaven is just a noble lie to protect the lie of a just world.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO) 57 million people died in 2008. Assuming that figure is typical, it means that today around 160,000 people will die worldwide. The certainty of our own death one day means that we only ever lease our material wealth.

Therefore, what do we truly lose when we die? We lose the ability to do one more thing. No matter if the next thing you do is to buy a diamond ring or buy an onion ring what is valuable is the act of doing. So, when you are opening your gifts today appreciate the contents of the gift and the loving thought behind it; also appreciate the ability to open a gift. Don't take that for granted. Treasure the gift of doing one more thing! It makes you the richest person in the world!

Tuesday 24 December 2013

Fade out and Fade in again

It is a particular feature of Parkinson’s disease and the medication (Levadopa) I am taking that my symptoms initially ease when I have a tablet but about three hours later my Parkinson's suddenly comes roaring up to me like a vicious dog. I shrink back from my body as my Parkinson’s, with bared teeth, takes over. I feel as if I fade out into what is called an “off” period: the boost in the levels of dopamine supplied by the medication is used up my body. As a result the levels of dopamine I naturally generate isn’t enough to control my movement and that’s when I freeze up. It's as if I am walking against a very strong wind. I literally have to fight control of my body back from Parkinson’s. When I take a tablet again I slowly fade in and can take relative control of my body again. The strong wind goes away.

The oscillation between “off” periods and “on” periods has become worse in the past few weeks. Before I would go down a gradual decline into an “off” period. Now, at the end of a dose I am literally falling off the cliff of the “on” period into the freezer of an “off” period.

At the moment my life consists of fade out…fade in…fade out…fade in…fade out… Try dancing to that rhythm!

Monday 23 December 2013

An emotional hand grenade with the pin pulled out

I’ve had to deal with the aftermath of three major emotional explosions in my life. All three involved a period of deep mourning for the loss of who I perceived I was and eventual reconciliation with myself. It turns out the explosions took away a perception I had of myself that wasn’t really part of me; like a sculptor who creates by chipping the marble away.

The first explosion occurred when I was 16 and in the final year of secondary school. I had been going to speech therapy throughout my childhood in the hope I would get rid of my stammer. I had unwavering faith in this. I had to get rid of my stammer so I could cope with being an adult, or so I thought. I constantly asked myself, "How could anyone function as a grown up with a severe stammer?" Also, I heard that it was easier for a child to get rid of their stammer and much harder for an adult. Therefore, I had to catch the last boat to Fluent-ville and I was already running late.

I attended speech therapy as usual one day when my speech therapist handed me an emotional hand grenade with the pin pulled out. She told me "I am going to pass you on to a therapist who deals with adults who stammer".

I thought, "Sorry, what did you just say?" I said, "Sssssssssssssss..." and stammered, both verbally and emotionally.

And that's when the hand grenade went off. I was dragged into adulthood before my time and in the process lost hope and lost my perceived fluent future. I simply wasn't ready to be called an adult nor was I ready for the realization that I would have to live the rest of my life with a stammer. I felt I had failed myself in the worst possible way. I had failed to give myself the means to be myself.

I saw myself as horribly disfigured from that explosion and the ringing in my ears deafened me to my voice for years. It took 12 years of emotional turmoil to come to terms with being an “adult who stammers”.

The second hand grenade I had to deal with was my depression and nervous breakdown. The explosion blow away my flesh so I was just a skeleton; it drove away everything except my bare bones. I had to layer each muscle back onto my skeleton and repair each nerve fibre and tendon. I had to rebuild my emotional wellbeing one cell at a time. It took two years.

The third hand grenade that was handed to me was Parkinson’s disease, “You might have Parkinson’s disease”, my disease said and dangled the pin from the hand grenade in front of me. The wait was agonising to find out whether the hand grenade would explode or not. It eventually did and separated my mind from my body and catapulted me into the clutches of a prognosis which tries to dictate to me, “you will be severely disabled”. I’ve been trying to glue my mind and my body back together ever since.

Ultimately, the three explosions have enabled me to know how determined and resilient I can be in my life. The aftermath has helped me to refine how I see myself and become a lot more realistic about who I am. I’ve learnt to be alongside the problems I have. Each explosion taught me something new and gave me the opportunity to learn and challenge my perception of who I am. I’ve slowly emerged from the marble…