dawn-time dawnings: i’m writing a memoir!

I think I really am actually writing a coming-of-age memoir. I’m coming of age, I know that much. And I’m writing about it. Bloody oath I’m writing about – I can’t friggen stop writing about it. Some friends are telling me I need to get out of my mind, away from the computer – and what?, into their car!? No way Jose. I’m on my own trip, and today I’m fucking thrilled about it. Yesterday and the days before that? Not so much. Tomorrow? Who knows. But today I’m really actually writing a memoir. I wrote down a summary as a potential pitch recently, when i got excited about an unsolicited email from an agent. But now i can’t find it, which is good – it’s the sort of thing that should be written and re-written from scratch, even as an exercise for writing the actual damn thing. It was something like:

High-school suburban stoner makes it good in publishing before growing disillusioned with the industry and the whole entire industrialised West, heads to Thailand in pursuit of peace, returns an alcoholic, has a nervous breakdown, finds God, travels to Turkey thinking he’s got this peace thing under control, does a lot of hardcore meditation but returns to alcoholism nonetheless, returns to Australia, has another breakdown, catches up with God again and decides to share his story.

Something like that. If i rewrite it every day as i approach the idea of thinking about maybe extracting these Adventures in Sobriety posts and developing them into a manuscript, maybe in ten years i’ll have the concept distilled enough to fit it on a blurb that people might actually care to understand.

The summary i wrote for the agent was a lot more succinct and far less sarcastic and it sounded like a cliché, but whatever.

I have long maintained that clichés are clichés for a bloody good reason – when enough people can relate to an idea easily expressed by some phrase, story or experience, it can become cliché. Cliché gets a bad wrap among the over-educated arts elite, because there is this obessesion with originality – as though using cliché is somehow shamefully derivative. Not necessarily – it’s not the nature of the boat, it’s how you use it. I’m not sure if that really works, but you get the idea.

My superego gets in the way sometimes, suggesting I can’t tell stories for shit and who would care about my story anyway. But then my ego chips and says, Abhijan, you’re fucking awesome! Write this memoir and share it with whoever will listen. Your story is great – you’re a fucking trooper.

I don’t really care what either of them have to say. I’m going with my gut. I’m going with feeling on this one. And right now, the hours I spend sitting down at my journal getting longhanded with my story – they are the most peaceful hours I get, at a time when my life is in a seemingly constant state of upheavel and change.

So that’s what Adventures in Sobriety is about for now. All of the above.

I worry sometimes about whether putting this all up online is a kind of narcissistic exercise – a cry for help, a plea for attention. But right now I don’t care about that either – in one sense because i actually don’t care, but in another: i bloody do need help. Help!, i’m a drunk and a stoner.

But also it’s a cathartic process for me, and I’m arriving at insights I might never have arrived at if I hadn’t been scribbling away at this. So telling the story is as much for me as it might be for you. Of course I’m keen to hear if it resonates with you – that would be grand. We can learn from each other in sharing our stories. So bring it. Yes, I’m looking at you!

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desperate times

in which i discuss pooing and Buddhism with one breath

I just used my hands and a teaspoon to dig a hole in someone’s yard so i could take a dump, like some humanoid-cat-dog hybrid. Desperate times call for desperate measures. I am also sun-drying mushrooms on Massive’s back rack because they began to attract ants and sweat inside their stupid-plastic container. They were already reduced for quick sale. Should i eat them? I don’t know. Dodgy mushrooms have a bad reputation. I was going to make mushroom dhal.

deceptive lead image

deceptive lead image

This experience (the pooing one) is something that i’m proud of when, according to society’s standards of respectability, i should feel ashamed.

I feel proud because a vague reason i’m doing this Berri to Somewhere cycle tour is i knew it would force me to be more resourceful than i generally am. Also, one of my main men, Milan Kundera, convinced me long ago that we need to start talking about poo if we can ever hope to escape a life of kitsch.

I wonder what it says about me that i should feel proud for shitting in someone’s backyard because it makes me feel resourceful. It is a vague consolation for me that part of this experience is also about exploring the idea of “respectability”, which is (sort of, i think) one of the Eight Worldly Concerns described in the Dhammapada and expounded upon at length by Osho.

you are me, a found kōan

My friend Emilio put me on to a guy called Barry Long, a so-called tantra master from Australia. I don’t know if he is a master, and i don’t know if he is a master of tantra, but

i took the first seminar about his fundamental teachings to a hammock in the riverbed at Afroz, and i lay there to listen, ready to immerse and fall asleep if that was to come, which it was—in and out, i listened, to three of his fundamental teachings:

  • there is only one ‘i’
  • there is only one ‘me’
  • there is only one life

Though these are simple, and sutras, he elaborated somewhat and the words resonated somewhat, but the words were not entirely essential because instead of understanding what he means, i received another understanding in the thought form: you are me.

It stuck with me—I don’t know why. It stuck with me and it feels profound, a delicate sutra containing all the world in eight letters.

My rational mind is inclined to elaborate, but my heart just wants to put it on a t-shirt.

Another fundamental aspect of his teachings that continues to reverberate in me is contained in what he says at the beginning, which is that we don’t need to remember teachings, because when we immerse ourselves in something like this, it is in us.

This is a real departure for me, who previously has been debilitatingly compelled to document everything, to record every thought-based understanding, in the hundreds of notebooks i keep for what? It makes everything feel so much easier, so much more enjoyable, to just immerse myself in listening and trust that what goes in must come out.

So, you are me: immerse yourself in it and see what comes out.

You are me.

To Be Coming Home

I have changed my plans again, this time to stay in Greece for a few more months because i have a sense of home here, now. Something shifted when i decided to stay, which wasn’t as much a decision as it was a relinquishment, a letting go of some idea i had about the future.

I was going to Thailand and India via Australia, China, Laos and a few other places in between: back to Australia to get Mulga Bill Massive, my poor neglected touring bike, so i could cycle around in search of another community.

But around the thought of leaving Greece there was a feeling of an anxiety, which fell away when i knew i wouldn’t yet have to go back through Istanbul, Dubai, Adelaide, just to get my bike and ride to Byron or somewhere. I need community, communion, and here i have it, now, so why leave? Leaving a community in Greece to go in search of a community elsewhere is like going into a shop with a dollar and asking to buy a dollar.

When i realised this, the anxiety fell away and relief emerged, bright and luminous as the stars appear to be when you get out of the city for the first time.

Continue reading

Starting to Breathe, Part I

a rambling five-part exploration of how spiritual healing must complement lifestyle changes that will facilitate spiritual healing – the Introduction is here

Fits and Starts

There is a new comb. It can be used without reference to the ‘i’. There was a festival, and there is an OSHO commune on Lesvos, Greece. Here, there and now, there is an alternative way of living. It is the way of light, of love, of uncontrollable and inexplicable laughter: laughter that bubbles up from the well-spring of a healthy spirit.

I have been experimenting with writing without reference to the ‘i’, to the ego, but it is proving difficult – it feels detached from reality, disembodied. Maybe it’s too much for now, because the thing is i’m still attached to my sense of ‘i’, to a sense that things happen to me, or that i do things.

It’s complicated. I’ve been reading Eckhart Tolle again, A New Earth. He has a lot to say about how we invest a sense of self in objects, things, people, whatever – things that ultimately exist outside ourselves, and are not us. And i have obviously been reading and listening to Osho, who has a lot to say about witnessing, about that part of our consciousness that can observe our ego, thereby separating us from what Eckhart would call the mind-made self – a way to start moving toward liberation.

Continue reading

Starting to Breathe, Introduction

a rambling five-part exploration of how spiritual healing must complement lifestyle changes that will facilitate spiritual healing

Introduction

For years now i’ve been implementing lifestyle changes from habits that are bad for me toward a way of being that is most conducive to spiritual progress. To a considerable extent i have succeeded, but sometimes i relapse and binge. Through experiences i’m having lately between an OSHO festival in Turkey and an OSHO commune in Greece, i’m learning that the reason some of these changes don’t stick is i am not focusing on the root cause of these behaviours – i am trying to treat the symptoms of a spiritual malaise rather than working on the wounds and conditioning underlying that malaise.  Continue reading

Melbourne’s New Anti-freedom Law

After reading about the recent protests in Istanbul after the death of Berkin Elvan,

i was appalled to find that the anti-protest laws have passed in Melbourne, Australia,

a city i once considered my second home.

This, especially, smacks of a move against freedom of association:

The change will also allow the courts to issue an exclusion order preventing those repeatedly told to move on from entering a particular public space for up to 12 months. The maximum penalty for breaching an exclusion order is two years’ imprisonment.