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Friday, February 12, 2010

Back on Track

I'm back.

It's a cliché, but it had to be said. After all, it is the only way to begin a comeback post. And being clichéd doesn't make it any less true. I am back to my blog, and I thank anyone who was waiting patiently for my return (although why you'd want to do that I'm not sure).

From a sabbatical I took from technology to give more time to spiritual matters in the first part of 2009, my time away turned into a re-analysis of my life and my dealing with the death of a very good friend last summer.

Life (or Death) can sometimes throw us a punch, and sometimes a one-two fist combination some of us call a double whammy, when we least expect it.

So, we get knocked off our feet, we're out for the count. But then we wake up, have to get up, shake the dust off and carry on. It's easier said than done, but sometimes we get a helping hand pulling us up in the strangest of ways.

Taking Time Out

Before last summer was suddenly upon me, I had taken time out to go on what I had termed "my personal pilgrimage" - visiting all the local libraries in my town and starting a club of recycling books, buying copies from charity shops and hospitals and donating to libraries and vice versa.

My local librarySeeing as I'm inclined to believe that an excess of nostalgia isn't healthy (even though some believe it might make us feel good), it was interesting that I finally settled into my old childhood haunt of a local library I had spent a lot of time in during my school days. It is an old converted chapel, small and intimate, and almost unchanged from when I was a boy.

I kept telling myself that my revisits during my sabbatical were because it was the perfect place to take a metaphorical breather and meditate on the future.

What better place than these houses of our humanity that keep the best and worst of us in one roof to contemplate my own humanity? That it was one of the places I had felt most happy as a child was just a bonus. But little could I guess back then that my little chapel library would become a sanctuary for completely different reasons.

It was like I was subconsciously following breadcrumbs left for me to find places of healing, in preparation of what was to come. I'd like to think that maybe something somewhere sensed that I would need an extra build-up in my defences and gave me that time by myself to acquire some of that strength, too.

But if that sounds too kooky for you, then let's say I was just lucky enough to have built up some inner peace beforehand, and found a chapel of healing where I could go to handle the grief of suddenly losing a friend I'd thought would be grumpily growing old with me.

Temples of Healing

Temples of all denominations are primarily for healing. We often forget that at one time that was what temples were mainly for - to heal the mind, body and soul from the ills caught off living. The ancient Greeks knew that well, so did the Celtic druids that prayed in their temples of trees and stone, with a preference to open air planning. Maybe we God-fearing lot could re-learn something from the Pagans.

Today, we have made our religious places symbols for other things: pulpits on which to preach hate or superiority, places just to visit for Christmas, Ramadan or Hanukkah or places to defend or destroy as though God could be housed in stone alone. We've put a roof over God and housed God in, squashed God into the small box of petty minds.

But enough of preaching. I found solace in reading; in amongst the shelves of books with their own prejudices and points of view (some with damaged spines that so irked my eye, some shining as brand new as a baby) I found my way out of the darkness to come back to you.

My own little local chapel had turned into my own place of healing, where I delved into the wisdom of those far wiser for help and for peace. Don't cry because it's over. Smile because it happened, says the American writer Dr Seuss.

I'm trying, Doc, I'm trying real hard. I'm trying to follow my own advice, too, in celebrating what I had, not mourning what I think I've lost.

It's a slow process, and I still feel at the stage where I'm just getting up, but life will go on, with or without us. Staying back with the dead while there is still life to be lived is the greatest crime we can commit to the memory of those loved ones now gone.

No one who loved us would want us to waste the precious time that wasn't afforded to them for whatever divine reason. It would make a mockery of their own loss, because we'd be treating it like it was truly our loss - when of course it isn't. We're still here, on this side of the ground as a good friend of mine would say. It was made for walking. So, we get up and walk on.

Don't cry because it's over. Smile because it happened.

It's easier said than done, but sometimes we get a helping hand.

Helping Hands

So, this penultimate bit is going to be one of those "thank you" posts again, and, as I always say, if you don't like the sickly sweet spiel that such thanksgiving always extends, then look away now.

First off, I have to say thank you to those that have kept Tarkan Deluxe alive during my absence, and in this respect most notably to Adelind: the Tarkan news section of this blog hasn't been me for a long time, for the past couple of years now it has been all you. You've allowed me to go off and do my thing, while you tended to this blog as lovingly as if it were your own. Not once have you moaned about the bullshit. Not once. I used to inwardly thank Tarkan for his music, now I just thank him for being the catalyst to meeting you. Your husband is the luckiest guy in the world, and if your child grows up with all the qualities of the mother, then your husband will be doubly lucky.

Secondly, but never second in my book, is my American friend Alison: I know you're going to hate the gush, but as you're so fond of saying, too: Suck it up! I'm not going to thank you, because I can't - where would I start, how could I even try? You have stuck in my corner through thick and thin, and mostly its been thin - even when in a strange twist of coincidence you contracted cancer, too, your thoughts were how to spare me the news. I know I never say it, but I do this only because I know I don't need to say it: our MSN chats have meant the world to me. Whatever happens next, you have a friend for life. It may not mean much, and it may just mean you have more shit to put up with as well as beating your cancer, but you have a friend for life. Plus, you have the patience of a saint and the sturdy kick of a donkey for lazy behinds, which always comes in useful for wandering spirits like me.

Last but definitely not least, to all those regular readers that have emailed me constantly throughout the long time I've been away: Thank you for your kind words. Thank you for not giving up on me. Thank you for persuading me that I needed to come back and share my thoughts with you again.

Back on Track

I've realised that although silence can sometimes be good, sometimes it can be selfish, too. If my personal grief made me selfish, then forgive me. It's a learning experience, and I'm still finding my way.

I needed to be reminded why I had taken the sabbatical in the first place - to try and come up with answers to guide me better through this life, and then share as much of it as I could with you all.

So, just as soon as I'm back, I'm off again - leaving England for a short trip to Istanbul, which has become a European Capital of Culture during my absence no less.

But this time I'm taking you with me, if you feel like coming along for the ride that is.

Read it here: The Making of a Moment >>

Read more: My Life | My Say >>

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