“I think it’s important for fans to know that but if I am doing something that inspires me musically, then I think it will inspire someone else too”. Chris Cornell.
Almost seven years ago my Father died by suicide. I do not speak for the rest of the members of my family, his friends, colleagues and associates, theirs is their own journey through this tragic time.
Everyone knew that ‘Otto’ (Trevor) could be a ‘colourful’ character at times, yet he was an advocate for the underdog, he was intelligent, he showed kindness for those with little or nothing. He showed loyalty, where loyalty may not have been shown to him. He was often a ball of energy with the things that he knew so much about and was passionate about. He would fight with you one day and hug you the next.
Growing up, I didn’t like my Dad very much. I wished that he could be more of a Father and less of a Chairman and and Skipper. Yet, now, I understand, we always share those who have a greater purpose with the wider community.
My Father and I were too similar, especially in temperament, so we would clash. I judged him for the very things that I was struggling with, always getting into fights at school etc. The man did not have a chance, coming from a home that he had to endure as a child which wasn’t often talked about in his era of adulthood. The cycle perpetuated itself. All I ever felt in the end was sadness for Dad and his siblings that they had to grow up in such a way. He was a kid just like I had been.
There is always a lot of guilt when someone takes their own life, we always think we could have done more. There is no one to blame. What I have learnt from this experience is that we must let go, live, breathe rather than allow the world to completely consume us. It is up to every individual to know that there is nothing in this world worth losing ourselves over.
The unseated spirit will guide us through some treacherous pathways. If we become so fixated on things in this life, it will eat away at us until the darkness completely engulfs our every waking hour. Whether that be politics, activism, money, possessions, jobs etc.
At first, I aligned myself with the possibility that my Dad’s suffering should become my own. I drank more, I fought more, I harboured so many unhealthy thoughts and emotions. Why should my Dad’s demise be my ending? The minute I realised that my lineage did not have to become my own reality, I was free, free to remove the thorn and start to heal. I didn’t want to commit to a life of suffering because I knew that mine was a different path and a different era. No torment I put myself through would bring Dad back. Finally, after years of pain, he was resting, peacefully.
The fact that I hurt so much was because I knew I had loved so much and that revelation, also set me free. I didn’t have to be angry at Dad anymore, I was free to love him completely, even though he was no longer here.
I don’t believe that a person who is in a dark place is in possession of consciousness. I do not believe that what they say and do is a choice. They have found themselves at a dead end….. and the options to get out of it and live freely is invisible to them. It is a build up of pain and suffering over many years and the ‘pricking thorn’ keeps hurting every time the world hurls more challenges at us, until we can take no more.
What I learnt is that I needed to ‘empty’ regularly and grow more resilient against the world’s challenges. Not be so sensitive, not close up, keep loving, laughing and living. Not take life too seriously and not think that I can control situations all the time. I needed to manage the voice, remain aware of the darkness that can engulf us if we live in constant negativity. I needed to celebrate gratitude, kindness, love, generosity, smiles, hugs etc… it is the living that need this.
I live in the moment. Whilst I may plan for the future, work hard toward a goal, I live for Now as this is all there is. Tomorrow may not come, so I have wasted today worrying about a day that did not come. The past cannot be changed, so why do we revisit all the bad memories all the time, holding ourselves to account for things we cannot change?
My Dad’s death was cataclysmic for me at the time, yet it was the greatest gift he gave me, sadly, it had to be in such a fashion. He reminded me to love, to live, to serve others but whilst also taking care of myself. He taught me that some things cannot be controlled or changed but there is lessons in adversity, our greatest teachers, if only we take time to listen to what adversity is trying to say. This experience taught me that I don’t need to be some powerful political figure. I can impact and be the agent of change as a street sweeper, a toilet cleaner, a waitress, a chef. The minute I smile at someone in the street or give them a hug, I have impacted. It taught me not to stay bitter, angry, hateful, ungrateful etc. It taught me to “Celebrate Life” as Lucky Dube would say.
The ego will tell us that we need to drag people to the ‘courthouse’ kicking and screaming. It will tell us that we are always right and others are wrong. It will tell us that without our status, money and hot partner we are nothing. It will tell us how dreadful we are as we make mistakes. The ego / that voice will guide us on a very treacherous journey and in the end, all we have done is infected our spirit with the woes of the world which will be here, long after we have left. How crazy is humankind when we impress upon ourselves so much of the responsibility of generations.
I am not suggesting that we don’t try to effect change, but how, why and at what cost to ourselves, our family, friends is a question worth asking.
I wish Dad was still here, I know we would have a much better relationship Now because of my own understanding of, “you don’t have to react to the world all the time”. So often I have conversations with people who hold the flame to revenge, comeuppance etc and whilst we are doing this, our happiness and peace stay away, in a place that only we can access through forgiveness.
One sunny afternoon in Liverpool at the church of Our Lady and Saint Nicholas on The Strand, I came upon the feature photo of of this blog. I wept. I wept not only for my Dad but for all those people who have found no way out but through death. I wept for the people who are still struggling Now, right in our circles. We’re so busy going about our lives, making money, buying things, wielding criticism and yet, people are suffering, right here. Maybe all they need is a hug, a smile, a stupid joke. Can we remove the mental prisons that we have put in place to protect us from the pain and suffering around us and start to grow so that we can be a greater help? So that we can listen without judgement?
This affects us all. It is not to feel what others are feeling but simply to be aware of the challenges of others and do whatever we can to lighten that load. To remind people, “its not worth becoming consumed about”.
I traced this all back to one point……the voice in our heads telling us that our childhood should dictate forever, telling us that we will never be good enough, telling us to spend hours scrolling through FB, telling us that our partner left us because of our physical attributes, telling us that if we don’t earn as much money we will end up being a nobody, telling us that if we don’t compete with the world, we are lost. How are we using our time, skills, qualifications, knowledge, spiritual power?
I traced it back to the voices in other people’s heads too. What other people say is to be treated with caution, lest false statements become our reality.
I traced it back to our own consciousness. We all have a choice to start the journey of staying present to our ego / voice / experiences now. How long do we have to wait until we come to this realisation? How many more people must die and suffer within our immediate circles before we break the conventional noise?
As I have always attested to, I write from my own personal experiences, it is all that I am ‘qualified’ to do and it is working for me beyond my wildest dreams but I realise that every path is different. I choose happiness and peace and as I made that choice, it means the rest will have to fall into place to maintain this.
Love is not enough unfortunately, we have to stay present, be the watcher and break conditioning of a lifetime.