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Saturday, 1 June 2013

A Walk With A Spiritual Irishman - Chapter 1

Another place apart from the Devonport Folk Club I got to sing in before I got more confidence to sing in other places was The Birdcage, thanks once again to Paul. When I found out that he was playing there I would go along and catch up with friends and make new friends. I also enjoyed dancing there among the beautiful tropical plants that make the place so bewitching and unique to my minds eye. Around eleven or so we would make our way to a cafe in Ponsonby called Cezanne’s. There we would order something to eat and drink, then share some of the things that were happening in our lives in one degree or another with laughter or a touch of sympathy. Some amazing things came out of those conversations  for me, and it also brought with it a lovely form of bonding for all of us I’m sure. Sometimes it could be the early hours of the morning before we departed. Those times still remain very special for me.
I am going to give you a little poem to follow up those last words of mine. I will call it A Glimpse.

                The times we share together
                           Will never be experienced again
                       they pass just like a glimpse at the sun.
                                     Some never to be forgotten
                                               some best forgotten.

During the week, to occupy my time and help to keep my body and brain on alert, I played tennis and snooker, swam and played golf. Then in what seemed no time at all, it was time to pack my humble belongings and head back to Australia and try my luck with whatever Australia had to offer me, and I, it. I left my old bomb of a car with my daughter Rachel and asked her if she could give it away to someone very hard up. To try to sell it I felt would be a cardinal sin that even the Pope couldn’t forgive. Mind you, I now have to ask God to forgive me as it’s gone beyond the Pope’s reach as my daughter sold it to someone who was trying to teach his daughter how to drive. I won’t make any more comment on that than to say thanks Rachel for all the dirty washing I left you to do for me over the years.

When I got to jot to Sydney I took a taxi to a reasonable priced motel in one of my favourite hunting grounds in Kings Cross. I booked in for a couple of nights to give me a little time to read the local rag to find a more accommodating venue to suit my dollar- worn bank account. The next day, early in the morning its off to Social Welfare to get back on the Australian pension. I must say that the man who interviewed me was a really nice guy and very clever and understanding in the way he went about his job. Mind you I was always treated well by the pension authorities In Australia and New Zealand. In less than a week I was back on the Australian pension.

After reading the local rag I found a room in a hotel in Enmore Road in Newtown. I must admit that it was not a good choice as I had to keep the windows open because it was very hot. Now normally that would not have been much of a bother to me as I got pretty used to noise living around certain places in Sydney, but both the traffic noise and the so called music at the weekends got the better of me this time so thats why I said bad choice. Then about a week later good fortune struck me as I came across a room to let for ninety dollars in the same road. So I called into this house and was greeted by a very pleasant gentleman whose name escapes me and taken to this small room at the back of the house. Yes, I must admit that it was quite small, but what caught my eye was this lovely, small but well foliaged tree just outside the window. I fell in love with it straight away, I just love trees. And not only was that a good omen for me, but also the gentleman who showed me the room seemed a really happy-go-lucky kind of person who put me at my ease straight away. He and his wife lived there as caretakers of the house. That of course made up my mind on the spot, so I handed him one hundred and eighty dollars for two weeks rent.

I must say it was a great relief to be out that noisy hotel room and into a small but very peaceful room at the rear of this house. During my previous stay in Sydney I had rented quite a few rooms but this one was quite something else. And what made it it something else was this lovely tree outside my window. As the days went by I used to sing and talk to this tree as I lay relaxed on my bed when I was not gallivanting about. And when I saw the the leaves move in the wind I felt it was returning my sentiments.

I started to go back to that home for destitute men called the ‘Matthew Talbot’ that I talked about in my book to catch up with my lovely friend Sister Yvonne and the people I shared a part of my life with. One day while I was clearing the dishes from one of the tables, a guy came seemingly out of nowhere and punched me on the jaw. I can can just remember him looking down at me as my eyes seemed to be covered in a glaze. It all happened so suddenly that all I was left with was a hazy reflection of my assailant, but enough to remember that I had seen him looking at me in the past with a strange look on his face. Mind you I had noticed this before with others during my stay there. I guess my happy-go-lucky attitude can rub certain people up the wrong way, especially in a place like The Talbot. But at the same time if one is false to himself, he will always be false to others.

But thank God the guy who hit me left it at that- he didn’t try to put the boot in, just moved on. I was  helped to my feet by another member of the voluntary staff who eased me into a chair to nurse my jaw and get over the shock. I made no further fuss about it other than feeling sorry for myself, and a little later my way back to my room to nurse my very sore jaw and to reflect over the incident. As I lay there I got this feeling that things were not going to plan. It seemed that I was into a whole new ball game. The magical game of cards I once held in my mind had more spades than hearts. And a short time later this was to become very evident.

I went back to the Matthew Talbot a few days later to see Sister Yvonne to tell her what had happened. She had heard nothing about it. After offering me a few kind words of sympathy, she hit me right in that place I needed to be hit in. “Terry,” you should never have come back here. You did a wonderful job, and learned a lot of valuable lessons, and I enjoyed your company, but now it’s time to move on and fill your life with something else. Well two K. O.s in a short time of space of time was quite a shock for ones system, but I must say they were very cleverly delivered. So after a few tears and hugs I left the Matthew Talbot for good. I said that I would keep in touch with her.

About two weeks later, my left shoulder was giving me problems. I could not afford to play golf, but tennis, snooker and table tennis were still available to me. So I took myself off to the medical center in Newtown and later after having an X-ray on both shoulders I was informed by the doctor who saw me that I had arthritis in both shoulders and that I would have to give up playing tennis. I can’t really put into words my feelings at that particular moment because it seemed to be one thing after another was grinding me down and down and down. Though I couldn’t understand it at that time because of the emotional strain I was under, another very important lesson was coming my way.

A week or so later I realised the writing was definitely on the wall for me. Do I move out of Sydney and try my luck somewhere else in Australia, or head back home to familiar territory? So I put what pride I had left behind me and went back to New Zealand. I am not a quitter by any means, but sometimes discretion is the better part of valour. I think this poem of mine might fit in here. It’s called,” To Hunt Or Free Me.

Whatever comes to hunt or free me
                can take some time to figure out
                          if that’s at all possible,
                        but one thing’s for certain;
                 I’m never the same after each episode.
              But, then again, if I’m not here for change,
                                what am I here for?

When I got back to New Zealand I was offered a change of scenery. A lovely lady whom I will call  Kathleen because I don’t have permission to use her name offered me a room in her house in Howick. It would have been in my circumstances more sensible to stay with my daughter in Birkenhead, close to just about everything I needed not having a car, but as you would have gathered by now I am not a sensible person. But then again I love that saying “Life is too serious to be taken seriously. that zest for adventure was still flowing in my veins. What I had to try now was to keep my expectations at bay. It’s not easy I will agree, but at the same time your expectations can be a soul destroyer.

This move turned out a lot more beneficial than I ever dreamt it would as you will see if you are still with me. There are a lot of undercurrents in my story than you may realise. And I also realise that only those who are willing to take risks will appreciate where I am coming from. And the meaning behind that is to encourage you, not to say that I am better than anyone else. What I have written in my book and this follow up is all about trying to help others believe in themselves. It took me a long time, but believe me it’s well worth that inner trip. I call it an inner trip because it’s all happening within you. Where else could it take place?

I would now like to share something that made me do a lot of thinking when I was changing my life around. The punch line comes at the end of this simple little story called ‘The Little Prince’, by Saint Exupery. The story is built around a lovely, wondrous little boy who lives on a star. Please let your mind be open to this as best you can. He has nobody or nothing on the star except a great baobab tree and a couple of volcanoes. For instance, he loves sunsets because they’re both beautiful and a little sad. Because the planet is so tiny, every time he moves his chair, he can see another sunset, and so he can see as many forty-four sunsets a day.

One day a little seed comes, and he watches it grow into a rose. He watches intently as it blossoms and becomes a gorgeous flower. he has never seen a rose, but along with becoming beautiful, the flower becomes very vain. She preens herself, and says, “Protect me from the sun!,and “Protect me from the wind!” and she is literally driving him mad until he decides that he doesn’t understand her at all. He leaves her and flies down to other planets to gain wisdom by finding out about love, life and about people.

He encounters some pretty strange things. On earth, among others he meets a very wise individual, a fox, and the little fox says to the little prince, “Tame me”. The little prince says, “well, I don’t know what that means. What does it mean to be tamed?” And the fox tells him how to form relationships with people, how to get into people, how to care. The little prince says, “If I tame you, remember that I can’t stay with you very long. I’ve got to go away. And the fox replies, “Indeed, when you do, I’m going to be very sad, I’m going to cry”. The prince asks, “Why on earth would you want me to tame you if it is going to cause you pain?”. And the fox replies, “It’s because of the colour of the wheat fields”. And the prince says, I don’t understand. The fox replies,”I do not eat bread. Wheat is of no use to me. But you have hair that is the colour of gold. think how wonderful that will be when you have tamed me! The grain, which is also golden, will bring me back the thought of you. And I shall love to listen to the wind in the wheat.

And so began the ritual of taming, which is the beautiful ritual of getting into each other.
So the little prince tamed the fox. And when the hour of his departure drew near, “Ah”, said the fox, “I shall cry”, It is your own fault,”said the little prince. I never wished you any sort of harm, but you wanted me to tame you. “Yes that is so, said the fox.”Then it has done you no good at all. “It has done me good”, said the fox, “because of the colour of the wheat fields”, And, then he added “Go and look at the roses. You will understand now that yours is unique in all the world. Then come back to me, and I will make you a present of a secret.

Then the little prince went away to look at the roses. “You are not at all like my rose”, he said “as yet you are nothing. No one has tamed you, and you have tamed no one. You are like my fox when I first knew him. He was only a fox like a hundred thousand other foxes. But I have made him my friend, and now he is unique in all the world. And the roses were very much embarrassed. “You are beautiful, but you are empty”, he went on. One would not die for you. To be sure, an ordinary passerby would think that my rose looked just like you, the rose that belongs to me. But in herself alone she is more important than all the hundreds of you other roses, because it is she that I have watered, because it is for her that I have killed the caterpillars (except the two or three that we have saved to become butterflies) because it is she that listened to, when she grumbled or boasted, or even sometimes when she said nothing. Because she is my rose. And He went back to meet the fox. “Goodbye”, said the fox. “ And now here is my secret, a very simple secret. It is only with the heart that one can see rightly that what is essential is invisible to the eye. What is essential is invisible to the eye, the little prince repeated, so that he would be sure to remember.

The bell that rings it’s tone for me from that is what is essential is so vast and constantly changing that we lose sight of because of our perception. Our fixed minds. More is going on in our lives than we will ever have time to really understand because we limit it for one reason or another. Wonderful things are out there, and always have been that we have never taken the time to discover. And you might say, how do I find them because of where I am for one one reason or another. All I can say to that is please Try. I don’t I would have made it had it not been for that great longing that developed deep down inside of me. No, I was not conscious of it at the time but I can see now how conscious it was for me.