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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trucking insights

nothing worth doing is ever especially easy

By going trucking i have already identified 2.5 massive things about myself that will greatly enrich my character if i persist in seeing through what i have to learn from this experience, much thanks to Mum and my friend Kathy.

It has been hard and it will continue to be challenging, but i am determined to (re)produce evidence for myself that nothing worth doing is ever especially easy. (My whole life i have been over-extending myself in the pursuit of personal growth, and i don’t want to quit now.)

I say 2.5 because i haven’t yet fully unpacked the third and biggest insight, about the importance of relationships, family and community in supporting us through the hard process of becoming the best we can be.

The other two insights will be revealed in my forthcoming adventure-memoir, due for release in 2025—after i execute my first long-distance adventure and wend the story of it with my growing understanding that a sense of adventure is essential in the pursuit of happiness and wellbeing, especially in this fractured modern world where we have to make shit up as we go along all the time.

For now, goodnight or good morning, wherever you are—i must return to my state of tortured sleeplessness in the tee-pee i found on the outskirts of Berri.

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.

I told Mum i took a sannyasin name and of course she understands.

The more time i spend in conversation with my mother as a friend, the more i understand how much of an enlightened being she is.

I tell her things i am learning about myself and the universe and she says “Of course!”, like i am finally catching on.

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.

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An Experiment with Pronouns and Perspective

consciousness

consciousness

Consciousness is a witness, an observer of the mind. But we confuse consciousness with mind – we think we are the mind: i am has come to mean i am the mind. We say, ‘I think, therefore i am.’ It’s Descartes’ fault – not mine!

A new pronoun is needed, so that we can begin to move away from conflating ‘i’ with consciousness: i is not consciousness; i is the mind; consciousness is consciousness. From now on, consciousness is represented by the symbol ‘!’.

In our current usage, ‘i’ is too much loaded with mind-identification, and we tend to think consciousness is of the mind – the two are conflated and it’s confusing. Sometimes we talk about something like ‘collective consciousness’ if we want to refer to that consciousness that transcends the individual human mind, but this term is also too much loaded with ideas about groups made up of yet-separate individuals when really, the term ‘consciousness’ should be enough to imply collective consciousness.

So i’m experimenting with alternative pronouns for making a distinction between the mind-made ‘i’ and consciousness – for now, a symbol, because i don’t want to coin some new word, words being too much loaded with ideas from our linguistic intellect.

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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.

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Bir Dil Bir Insan

“Bir dil bir insan” is a Turkish proverb meaning “one language, one human” and implying that when you learn a second language you become two humans.

Extrapolating from this affirms my belief that if we share one language we begin to live as One, as a single expression of unified humanity. When we begin to live as a single expression of unified humanity we begin to move toward Understanding, where differences are no longer problems but expressions of diversity, opportunities to live a vibrant life in harmony with one another.

UPDATE
When i posted this, auto-correct got one by me and changed “insane” to “insane” … which wouldn’t be the first time insanity was aligned with the concept of humanity.

Songs from Two Continents, poems by Moris Farhi

Splooge?

Splooge?

Redemption and the Hope for Understanding through Liberation from Separation

As part of my haphazard research into the divergence of East and Western cultures, I picked up a copy of Moris Farhi’s first book of poems, Songs from Two Continents on my tour of Turkey with Mum and Rashid.

This is the first poetry i have read from a Turkish poet, and the second book of any kind by an author from Turkey—the other being The Flea Palace by Elif Şhafak, a Márquezian novel i am picking my way through slowly, the second book i have attempted to read in its entirety on an eReader, the first being, foolishly, Plato’s Republic.

Between Socratic dialogue and the pithy poems of Moris Farhi, there couldn’t be a much greater divide. The first poem is quote worthy not only for its sheer brevity, and is just a taste of the redemption-through-passion theme pursued in the collection:

Paths to God

many paths lead
to God

mine is through
the flesh

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The Thing About John Updike

The thing about John Updike is, I found yet another inspiring post on Brain Pickings recently, about John Updike and some ideas of his about writing and death, and how various things we do (addictions, writing) are merely ways of avoiding accepting the reality of nothingness, of our imminent demise and the likelihood our death will be our extermination.

Happy stuff.

It was inspiring because I really like to think of a guy who’s dedicated himself to writing and contemplation,

and contemplation is a key qualifier to writing here, because lots of people write, but there is a way of writing purposefully and meaningfully that I think adds an extra dimension of importance to writing,

and that is to use writing as a tool for contemplation.

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