Today a man died.
I barely knew him, but had met him a few times at a few of the Men’s Gatherings I go to. Ian was an honoured Elder to all of us; a ‘peaceful warrior’ as someone put it today. I can never quite get that term, but I’ve sat a few times in the presence of this man, and yes: he was strong, and often silent, but he was always there if you cared to look. ‘Present’ is the word.
Now he is absent. His spirit has gone, damned if I know where, and like anyone I wonder about death. Have done so since I was about seven years old and lay in bed freaking out totally upon the idea of non-me, nothing, void, absence, the ceasation of awareness. It seemed so utterly impossible!
Anyway the Men’s Community is now in mourning, and the emails talk with great respect for this man Ian. He is honoured and remembered. He did something of value, he touched a lot of lives, and that will continue to resonate. Something ‘achieved’. A life lived in a worthy manner.
Oh, I’m sure he was no perfect. He would have been a lot like me: doubts, anger, wasted moments, wasted love, wasted opportunities, depression, confusion, wondering what the fark it was all about.
So what’s it to do with this blog, and this place, and me writing to you? And why do you keep reading? Is there a good joke coming soon? Some bon mots? Is Ged is about to pull a swifty and pop the mood open?
No, Ged is about to tell you a story.
It began a long time ago, aproximately fifty years ago, with a little boy who lay in bed many nights in a row, and on the nights when he was not pondering death he was created a sort of dream, a ‘visualisation’ if you will, and in this vision he was speaking. Always speaking to a huge crowd. And he was not necessarily a child; he was a human being, an equal to all those in his audience, and the words he spoke were about a better world. About creating that better world. And about being better. How to behave towards each other without harsh words, and without abuse, and without going to war over every damned thing, and about treating EVERYONE with respect, and as an equal. ESPECIALLY CHILDREN! And older brothers would not beat up younger brothers in the world my people made. And step-mothers would not be abusive to their step children. And fathers would be stronger, and more attentive, and more fun.
There was going to be a lot of good things about the world my people make, and they made it because of my words. I made most excellent speeches. They were fantastic! They were inspiring! They came from a place in me that really mattered, from within my bruised heart, and they were about what mattered to me when I was seven: Truth! Justice! Kindness! Respect! Being Kind To Kittens! Not Wasting Electricity! And most of all: Doing Good Stuff!
Now curiously, and ironically, I admired Adolf Hitler at the time. See; he gave great speeches too. He inspired! I wanted to be like him. I wanted to inspire! (That was all I really knew about him at the time. I picked out that one vital detail. Vital to *me*.)
Anyway life rolled on and even though I got depressed with alarming regularity and often wanted to die I didn’t, and that urgency to cry out to the world kind of faded away. I found other ways to cope with the physical and emotional abuse that was a regular part of my life. My family were not monsters. Pretty normal by most accounts. I survived, and gradually my aspirations shifted. I forgot about that vision. I succumbed to another kind of story, the “So, what do you want to be when you grow up?” story.
I settled on architecture. It crashed and burned when I was 23. And in an ever increasing panic I began a whole string of interesting experiments: chippie, hippie, truckie, astrologer, boatbuilder, drifter, new-ager, high school teacher (shudder), clown, poet, actor, writer, singer, puppeteer, nude model … all mixed together and revisited and rehashed. Some filled with glory, but most not. I eventually did design a house. I built a house-truck. I toured. I performed to thousands. I got a book published. I got published again, and again, and again!
And for a while I regarded myself as a writer. I thought it could never die.
But it has.
Oh I keep the corpse lying around here at home and poke at it a lot, but I fear it is over. Seems my turn as a writer seems to be over.
Yes, I heard that. Many of you will be shouting right now about how I still AM a writer, and how I just need to keep believing in the dream and all that. Yes, yes, I’ve heard it all before.
But no. Around about the time that Ian Ulmann died, I quietly made a desicion to change what I am doing. And the first thing I’m going to do is stop with the idea of ‘doing’ and switch it to the idea of ‘being’.
I’m going to be myself.
You see a few other things happened today. On Facebook Rob wrote “I see Magic People”. Elaine added “When you look in the mirror, you DO see a magic person, Ged. Every time you look in the mirror, tell the person looking back at you how magic he is, and maybe the sinkholes will become just a small divot.” And Michael wrote, “THE RETURN OF THE GED-I!!!!!!!!”
Now I do not want to launch into the story of when and why I took the name of ‘Ged’, but it was about trying to release something of magic into my life at the time. (It worked, by the way.)
So today, as one man shifted out of this human life, I decided to shift back into the one I once inhabited. I’m going back to my first ever visualisation, because no matter how I slice it, THAT is my deepest truth. That is like my ‘calling’, if you will. But it is not any kind of job I’ve ever seen described. And I have no idea how to do it. I DO have some kind of idea how to *be* it, however.
Here is what I wrote, soon after I learned of Ian’s death.
“Remember, at the retreat, what the Magic Man did? He walked into the labyrinth. He set a purpose, walked in, found things by instinct, did stuff (or ‘process’), and walked out. And he found his Voice, and he sensed his Magic.
And he made a commitment to himself. Let’s try and remember what that was:
To be himself. To be a Magic Man. To speak, and use the power that is there; the magic that mixes words with the power of the sincere and truthful heart, and pours them forth. Words that have effect. That move people, that move hearts and delight minds and deepen experience and understanding. To be more truthful, and sincere, and connected, and of heart, and of value. (And impulsive and a bit crazy too.) To speak with passion, and compassion, and from a truer deeper place.
Like the boy who dreamed of making speeches that would inspire people and change the world. That boy. Remember that boy? You are that boy, Magic Man. You are that boy.”
So this blog is now active. I finally think I have something valuable to say here.
I will work with words, spoken or written. They are my magic. I will not stop using them.
So, people, thanks for staying till the end. Today, stuff happened. Tomorrow, stuff will happen, and you’ll be doing stuff and …. Can I ask but one thing? Can you please keep something in mind?
Do good stuff. Add value to the world in whatever you think, do and say.
I’ll be doing my best to remember it too.