A few years ago I was fortunate to interview American neuropsychologist and author Dr. Rick Hanson. He has written a number of best-selling books that draw on his scientific and clinical knowledge of how the brain works combined with Buddhist concepts to teach people how to shape their brain for greater contentment, love, and wisdom.
I got back from a holiday in the US a few days ago and it was one of those trips with a before and after – I left as one person and returned another.
It was a bucket trip list; over my 53 years I’ve traveled widely but every time I had plans to go to the USA something always seemed to happen. But there is nothing as persuasive as a cold Wellington winter’s night, with the wind smashing against the walls like a berserk toddler while the rain pounds sideways against the windows.
A question often asked is: “What if you only had five years to live?” Or the favourite of job interviewers everywhere: “Where do you see yourself in five years time?” A lot can happen in five years, a lot can happen in six months or even a week. But what if there are no options left, what if this is it? Today is your last day, no more one day I’ll learn a language, climb Mt Kilimanjaro, or do a skydive?
It has been a shit few months for me. Apart from my relationship going south, I also have been recovering from back surgery for a prolapsed disc which I had in November 2013.
Prior to that, I had always been fit – I had trained in karate and obtained my black belt, been a keen sailor – going out weekly – and generally thought of myself of being in rude good health. It was a real shock when my back blew out and I went from being a fit health person to being in constant pain and barely being able to climb a flight of stairs. Couple that with the stress of a highly dysfunctional relationship, I became dependent on painkillers and piled on the weight. Even though after surgery I was much better, I became scared of pushing my body too hard in case my back went again. Continue reading Zen and the art of surfing – riding a wave as therapy.→
Every so often, a show comes along that rocks your socks off. Last night I attended a performance by the Auckland Music Theatre of the musical Next to Normal as a fundraiser for the Matt Skellern Bipolar Trust. The trust was set up after Matt took his own life two years ago after struggling with bipolar disorder. Matt’s father Graham and sister Emma established the trust with the hope of inspiring and finding effective support for people with bipolar disorder, and to increase public awareness and reduce the associated stigma.
Fear no more the heat o’ the sun; Nor the furious winter’s rages, Thou thy worldly task hast done, Home art gone, and ta’en thy wages; Golden lads and girls all must, As chimney sweepers come to dust.
Fear no more the lightning-flash, Nor the all-dread thunder-stone; Fear not slander, censure rash; Thou hast finished joy and moan; All lovers young, all lovers must Consign to thee, and come to dust.
I’ve been there. Standing outside a funeral home as pallbearers loaded a coffin into a hearse. A coffin in which lay a beautiful laughing woman, while mourners stood about, dumb-founded, in shock, dismayed – wondering how it had happened, wondering if only they had done something, anything. How could we be here? Only nine months earlier, this beautiful woman with a laugh that filled a room had been a bride. We, the mourners, had gathered together to celebrate a wedding. She had been so happy, laughing, toasting her big day with champagne.