Young People Have It So Easy These Days…

16/06/2010

Welcome Home…

Filed under: Meditation,Photography — davedoyle87 @ 01:15

Olympus have finally returned my E-510 DSLR after 5 months of waiting for spare parts to be shipped from Japan. I’m overjoyed to have it back; having missed so many good photo opportunities since January I’ve begun taking pictures again in earnest. These are two I took today.

The first is a collapsible two-piece meditation stool, constructed in MDF by my friend Matt at the Birmingham Buddhist Centre. He wanted to see his creation after I had attacked it with a can of antique gold enamel spray paint. I was pleased with the result, myself.

The second photograph is of my Mk. III British Army sighting compass, manufactured in 1941 by TG. Co. Ltd. of London. Unfortunately, it appears to have been demagnetised. If anyone has any idea how I might go about restoring it to working order I would be very excited to hear from you, it being an antique and a gift.

The third is a self-portrait, of sorts, taken under a weeping willow tree in my local park where I had been meditating this afternoon.

All (c) Dave Doyle, 2010

P.S. Feel free to let me know which is your favourite using the poll below. (I don’t mean to sound conceited, but I’ve just realised that you can insert polls into your posts and was curious to see whether/how it worked!)

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15/06/2010

Meditation Poetry

Filed under: Meditation,Philosophy — davedoyle87 @ 15:06

These words came to me this afternoon while I meditated in my garden on the sad end of my long relationship with my (now ex-)girlfriend, which has affected me more deeply than I thought anything could.

I had been missing her touch in particular; the lack of physical contact was making me feel desperately alone in the world. I’m publishing these words here out of a desire both to record and to share them. I hope that they bring you some enjoyment. If so, please do leave a comment.

As I sit,
in my hour of aloneness,
the sun has for me
a warm hug.

I turn my face up
to nestle in its breast
while the breeze plays its soft fingers
through my hair.

Meanwhile, a blackbird
whistles reassurances
in my ear,
over my shoulder.

And I realise:

we are all interconnected,
life with element,
my isolation perceived
but not real.

(c) Dave Doyle, 2010

14/06/2010

A Little Perspective

Filed under: Meditation,Philosophy,Psychotherapy — davedoyle87 @ 23:23

People meditate in order to relax.

Everyone knows that, surely.

But what is the link between meditation and relaxation? And if it’s such a great tranquiliser, why aren’t millions of meditation addicts overflowing from rehabilitation centres worldwide for the positively sociopathic amount of time they spend alone (or indeed in groups) with their eyes closed?

It was a question which puzzled me too, as a particularly stress-prone young man, before I was introduced to this ancient and life-enhancing practice: what about all the time that you’re not meditating? Did meditation provide, at best, brief respite from… well, the world? Given that my anxiety generally came about as a consequence of exams or social situations, and not sitting with my eyes closed, this unanswered question seemed like reasonable grounds for scepticism.

Of course the way to learn about such things is not to avoid them, but to try them for yourself. And learn I did. The answer, based on my own experience of meditation, is perspective. Focussing on one’s inner self, one’s own continuous, vital life processes (i.e. breathing) or the propagation of metta (universal loving kindness, very roughly translated) encourages a greatly improved perspective on the relatively trivial matters which can all-too-easily cause distress in even the most emotionally stable people in their darker moments. And you don’t have to be sitting down or have your eyes closed to have a perspective on something; it stays with you indefinitely, as long as you sit and foster it occasionally.

As such, little stuff just bothers you less. It’s as simple as that. It’s a beautiful thing, really.

For the ordained Buddhist who has pretty much devoted his life to meditation, it seems to be a ticket to perpetual contentment (judging by the content smiles they permanently wear, at least). To those of us still driven by more material concerns, life remains complicated. Just a little less so. Go on; give it a try.

Written in memory of the twelve Cumbrian individuals murdered by Derrick Bird on the 2nd of June and with metta for the families who survive them: proof that no matter how distressing your life may seem, it can almost always be infinitely more so.

20/05/2010

Comfort in Sound

Filed under: Uncategorized — davedoyle87 @ 14:03

I just listened to a beautiful piece of music. I’d heard it before—plenty of times, in fact—but I’d never really listened to it. My present situation no doubt has a lot to do with my new-found appreciation for this song, so allow me briefly to set the scene.

I’m currently sitting on a train which is snaking its way lazily across the England’s East Midlands to the historic city of Lincoln. In Lincoln is a house; one which I used to call my home. In this city and in this house I enjoyed one of the three and a half beautiful years that my now ex-girlfriend and I shared as a couple, and to this day a lot of my possessions—as well as a lot of my memories—are housed there. Today is the day on which I clear out said possessions into the basement of a good friend who has kindly offered up the space until I can shift it all back to Liverpool.

The song in question began to play in my earphones as I pondered the no-doubt unpleasant task ahead. I was wondering exactly how I was going to react, faced with the space that we designed and furnished together, and which is now no more my home than is my friend’s basement. The lyrics couldn’t have been more apt, and they moved me more than any piece of music I had listened to before. They have given me the encouragement I needed to face my past without reliving or trying to recapture it. Should anyone reading this find themselves in a similar situation now or in the near future, I hope that they can bring you the same comfort. I’ve included the most poignant verse, along with the beautiful chorus, below.

Hold up,
Hold on,
Don’t be scared,
You’ll never change what’s been and gone.
May your smile,
Shine on,
Don’t be scared,
Your destiny may keep you warm.

‘Cause all of the stars,
Have faded away,
Just try not to worry,
You’ll see them someday.
Take what you need,
And be on your way and
Stop crying your heart out

Oasis — Stop Crying Your Heart Out

11/05/2010

Young Love(lessness)

Filed under: Philosophy — davedoyle87 @ 17:04

When the chips are down and you feel that the ship of your professional and personal development is foundering on the rocks of unexpected circumstances, a loving relationship can be the life-saving raft which keeps you afloat. Conversely, should you be fortunate (or skilful?) enough to find yourself plying a relatively comfortable course through the strait connecting the rough Arctic seas of your adolescence and the Bermuda Triangle of your should-be-blossoming career, love (or rather, its sudden tumble overboard) can be one almighty iceberg in your path.

There are, I have to admit (read: ‘I would go mad if I couldn’t admit’) advantages to being single. “Course there are,” cries my id,  lairily, “you can ‘ave whoever you want, whenever you want. Get in!”. But of course it just isn’t that simple if you will not stoop to sexual assault. No: for those of us with even a modicum of respect for women, loneliness is pretty much inevitable in the short-term.

On the upside, though, you do rediscover music. You begin to register the subtle but carefully crafted interaction of the harmonies with the melody, as you did when you became aware of music at a young age. You actually listen to the lyrics; appreciate their pertinent, if often stinging, sentiment in a way that you couldn’t before you knew love. You realise that, while you spend half of your life in the familiar company of your MP3 player, you don’t actually hear most of what it has to say. And although it frequently laments love or the loss thereof, moves you often and scorns you occasionally, you appreciate that music—like your parents—is more worldly wise than you ever gave it credit for. And that comforts you a little.

07/05/2010

Live to Work/Work to Live? Is There a Choice…?

Filed under: Work — davedoyle87 @ 22:24

So I’ve just clocked off my last ever shift for my most recent employer, Homebase. All in all, it wasn’t a bad job. The hours were pretty lousy, but the work was varied and the people with whom I worked couldn’t have been more supportive. A (now former) colleague seemed genuinely surprised that I had turned up for my last shift at all: “I wouldn’t have bothered, if I were you” he admitted, without letting slip any hint that he meant it in jest.

And yes, the temptation was there; I could have done any number of things tonight, other than work. But instead I turned up, and by gosh I gave it my all for those last four hours. Now I’m not suggesting for a second that I was wrong to take this conscientious and self-sacrificing path. I do not, after all, take any pleasure in reneging  on my promises or letting people down. But I have to admit that guilt was not my main motivation for seeing my final shift through. It was, rather, the lasting impression that this month-long period of employment will leave on my CV. Because like it or not, an impression it will leave.

Is this really right? That it is now essentially impossible to take a job for any length of time without it having a permanent impact on our employment records? Perhaps it is; perhaps it promotes us all to shine in the workplace for the good of both colleague and customer. But there’s a part of me which yearns for the freedom that our grandparents must have had: to earn a few quid from time to time, when career plans are on hiatus for whatever reason, without fearing the potentially cataclysmic effect that some minor disciplinary issue might have on the impression that we leave with our manager, and which works it way into the less-than-commendatory reference they provide when we finally happen upon that career opportunity about which we always dreamed…

The alternative, of course, is to leave the job off our CV altogether. But then we are forced to explain a ‘lazy’, post-teenage period of feckless unemployment which was actually spent working like a proverbial resident of  Troy. Either way, the fact that I am forced to spend so much time worrying about the impression of me formed by a completely hypothetical person—my future employer, should my life not spiral into the employmentless abyss I irrationally fear these days—is pretty darned frustrating.

Thoughts? Comments? Please do leave them below, should you find the time between panic attacks…

Oh, The Irony…

Filed under: Philosophy,Psychotherapy — davedoyle87 @ 13:40

Just in case you hadn’t already guessed, the title of this blog is meant to be ironic. Not the most jaw-droppingly clever use of the English language, but there’s at least a reasonable chance that it was largely responsible for the fact that you’re still here and still reading.

But before you snort derisively at the cheap, attention-grabbing habits of the author and ‘Back Button’ him, please allow him a second to pitch his philosophy to you.

I began writing this blog for two reasons. The first reason is a personal, long-held and recently-resurfaced aspiration to be a journalist, coupled with the realisation that I had not written anything at all for some time and the sudden, accompanying dread that I might just have forgotten how to. If practice does indeed make perfect, then logic leads me to believe that my lack of practice must have rendered me virtually illiterate by now.

My second motivation is in some ways similarly self-centred, yet simultaneously more altruistic. I will be 23 years old this month. It has dawned on me, during the particularly turbulent and uncertain life period which has, so far, comprised September 2009 to May 2010, that young adult life is altogether more complicated and tumultuous than my parents, teachers, lecturers or other assorted role models could ever have prepared me for; the smooth transition from undergraduate to graduate to content employee never materialised for me personally, nor did it for my close friends. We’re all unemployed, we’re all in a monstrous amount of debt and we’re all more than a bit pissed off: that the degree parchments for which we toiled so hard and the diligent, polite, professional demeanours which we have conscientiously upheld through our various interviews (should we be lucky enough to be offered one) seem–at this point in time–to count for nought.

In short, I felt the need to vent. In addition, I felt the need to connect with other young adults who might be experiencing the same aspirations/frustrations as myself. Finally, I wanted to offer a supportive hand-on-shoulder to those in the same boat; as a current part-time student of counselling and psychotherapy, I’m feeling pretty empathetic, despite it all.

So please, if you wish to share any thoughts on the broad general topic of young adulthood, or if you have any pearls of wisdom for the rest of us who are struggling to navigate the minefield of our twenty-somethings on the long road to career satisfaction, home ownership and the other tantalising promises of middle age, then do. Or indeed, if you wish to read the same, please keep checking back for updates.

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