Suggested Audio Candy:
The Animals “House Of The Rising Sun”
 Simon and Garfunkel “Homeward Bound”
 Eva Cassidy “Over The Rainbow”
I have been on many pilgrimages over the course of my lifetime, some excellent adventures and others bogus journeys. However, none are perhaps as significant as the one I am about to embark on. This time tomorrow I will be in the company of the oldest friend I ever had and this weekend proposes to be a truly spiritual affair. Those who know me well will be all too aware of my personal turmoil and how this has threatened to overspill on occasions too numerous to mention. They will also know that I have pledged to address the issue of steadily diminishing health and, despite my very best efforts, this has never quite come about. So what is so different this time then? Everything, you see, there has been another priority over the past three years and this has been uppermost in my estimations. My mind has teetered on the brink of collapse many times as I have struggled to overcome my personal demons and overbearing guilt over the breakdown of my happy marriage. This has threatened to consume me and needed to be addressed first and foremost. My body has, therefore, had to wait.
And wait it has. Actually, credit where due, how it hasn’t capitulated by now is a mystery I will never solve. Heaven knows the amount of punishment it has been subjected to, surely sufficient to provide me with an altogether different kind of closure. However, for whatever reason, it has weathered each storm. Indeed, had I not been in the midst of such a gargantuan undertaking with my mind, then I’m assured I would no longer be sat here but I will take last every act of charity it donates. I’m not about to single out any one poison that threatens me most as it’s their amalgamation that supplies the true hazard. The bottom line is this: I spend three-quarters of my waking hours cooped up in a shed as it is here that I scribe away day after day. There have been sub-zero conditions, leaky roof tiles, heater malfunctions, broken chair legs, exploding cans of soda, dropped laptops, and affable snails snuffed out in their prime due solely to my lack of alertness. While all of these hardships have contributed in some small way to delivering me to the point I’m at now, one glance at the ash tray to my left tells me all I need to know about the pressing need for risk assessment.
Needless to say, there have been various warning signs presented by my aching shell and, up until now, I’ve been my own worst enemy. With my mind playing so many callous tricks, hopes of reprieve have been slender to say the very least. I once met a polio-ridden T-Rex (through manner of daydream) and his withered limbs looked positively chubby alongside my hopes of reprieve. What said mind provides is both curse and blessing in equal measures and the former has been prevalent during this three-year slump. I am a creature of habit, a slave to O.C.D., and my mind is worse than a fucking attorney to a body trying its darndest to drop hints. I didn’t want the truth, I COULDN’T HANDLE THE TRUTH! Instead, reassurance was all I craved, and my mind happens to be a silver-tongued devil when backed into a corner. Nobody has been able to shake me out of my funk, none of the many uncomfortable home-truths have turned the tide, no voice has spoken louder than the one inside my head. Herein lies the issue as I can’t outfox this particular master of ceremonies by vacating the room. When everything is silent, it calls the shots once more.
Fret not if this is all sounding a dash sombre as there is nothing that pleases me more than a kicker and I happen to have one of those right here. Somehow I have managed to solve as many mysteries about myself as I am ever likely to without going doolally and learned to prioritize my time better. At best, I shall devote one tenth of my day to trying to win the elusive cash money prize and keep any questions to a bare minimum. The rest of the time I shall be learning any positive lesson life can teach. I have been truly comfortable in my skin for some time now and, here comes that kicker, I am now truly comfortable in my mind. Next up I would like to become truly comfortable in my respiratory function. No more killer thirty-minute migraines brought on by early morning coughing fits; I really am not fond of the way they muscle in. Diet shall remain reasonably abysmal for the time being as Rome never claimed to have been built in a day. But those lungs, those sorry, sorry lungs, are due a little downtime.
Around five years back, some awfully congenial lady at the local chemist tested their capacity. When she informed me that my lungs were in their late sixties, I was duly taken aback. Time marches on, of course, so I dread to imagine their state of disrepair now. If I’m honest, no organ transplant surgeon in the world is going to waste their time on this pair, and rehabilitation will only ever mean damage limitation from hereon in. I’m okay with that as there is still time on the clock, as long as I don’t press the issue any farther. This brings me back to my chosen weekend activity. My mind is now primed for the fight but cannot hope to land any knockout blows without a spotter. The gentleman I’m paying a visit knows me better than most and we’re talking on a neuroscientific level. There will be no pulling of wool over his eyes and I have no intention of doing so either. Speaking truth is something we are both adept in and together we can tool me up for the journey home. When I arrive back on terra firma after two days of elevation, I will have found the closure I need to the current chapter of my life and that just leaves me a fresh page.
My hope is that this article will be transferable in some way to whatever hardships I know many of you are facing. It’s a tough slog sometimes, walls have a tendency of closing in, worst enemies are often of our own making, and the light at the end of the tunnel never seems to be getting any closer. I know all of the above feelings well and will never claim to have found all the answers to defeating them. However, I first recaptured my soul, then mind, and body is now set to take care of itself. It has taken identifying pain, learning how it manifests, succumbing to its many jabs but enduring them, then finding a manner in which to release. Once each puzzle has been solved, you move on to the next. Eventually, there are no more puzzles left, at least, none that are worth bothering with. This is the point at which I find myself currently – happier than I have been for some time, able to cope with any banana skins strewn across my path, no longer burdened by culpability, and free to roam once again. Got my hiking boots, got my compass, got my back pack, I believe that makes me ready for the come what may.
One day at a time. That is the only way this is going to work. Should I say never, then my mind will begin to build its case accordingly. Making things final invariably ends in dissension, better to just focus on the next twenty-four hours and repeat that shit to fade. After a while, I will have clocked up some air miles, and my defense will then be stronger. I have no intention of setting myself up to fail as that has been my undoing so many times previous that it just isn’t funny. I have never been more ready for anything in my life as this. Granted, the penny has taken its sweet motherfucking time in dropping, but even Dorothy made it home in the end. I thank every last scarecrow, tin man, and cowardly lion for accompanying me on my yellow brick road. And I have had a ball dodging any flying monkeys en route. But the Wicked Witch of The West is dead and I miss Aunt Em and Uncle Henry. Time to go home Grueheads. On three…
There’s no place like home!