Tuesday, November 18, 2014

The God of Jon (part one)


I believe in
"the One,
the Rock,
the Guarantee,
the luminous mist that is not body,
that has no shape, weight, quantity, or quality,
that does not see or hear,
that cannot be sensed,
that is in no place, in no time,
and is not soul, intelligence, imagination, opinion,
number, order or measure.

Neither darkness nor light,
neither error nor truth.”
 

Quoted from Foucault’s Pendulum by Umberto Eco



Beard + Hoodie = Saint!


Hugs
Jon




Saturday, November 8, 2014

Open Letter to Someone I Don't Know Really Well.

Dear friend,

I've been trying to write to you for about a month but I never seemed to get my thoughts in order, and after typing and than deleting a few sentences, I closed the file and waited a few days and tried again with no more success. I hope this time will be the right time.

I also feel very selfish to write to you tonight; I don't know if it will bring you any good but at least I won't end up saying: "Jezz, I wish I would have written that damn letter!" If I end up bothering you, please accept my apology.

***

I am glad that you are back home even if you are still feeling very weak. We have better chances to get well when we are in our own stuff, sleeping in our own bed.

As I told you before, I have over the past twentysome years, assisted so many friends who were battling with a life threatening disease and although I would not even pretend knowing how you are feeling, I think I have a pretty good idea of the kind of state of mind you are in right now.

These are the most critical time when we reintegrate our own dwelling after a long stay in a hospital. It is the time when we must think about ourselves and ONLY about ourselves. Never mind the rest of the world. It doesn't care about us anyway. We must put aside all of our anger, all of our bitterness about the world, about the past, about those who have hurt us, about all we think should be or should have been and think about what we are going to do with our life from this point on.

It is critical, if we are looking for healing. We need to perform a 180 degree turnaround in our mind. The thing we must resist is to go back to the same old thought patterns we've been living with all our life.

***

One of our most emminent oncologist in Montreal, Dr. Christian Boukaram, (very handsome gentlemen by the way) has worked very hard trying to spread the idea that our emotional state has a dominant influence on our mental, psychological and physical health.

Many studies have been made exploring the same idea. With the help of the magnetic resonance imaging technology (MRI), doctors and researchers were able to see how much thoughts and feelings can have drastic effects on the blood pressure of the tiniest vessels in the brains. They suggested to their patients to think about some event in their lives that caused them a lot of anger and pain and after a while, they could see the pressure rising in parts of the brain they couldn't see with the conventional electro-encephalograms (and other type of scans), preventing oxyen to reach the deepest part of the brain and resulting in damagable effects to the entire metabolism leaving place for disease to develop.

When on the other hand, they asked their patients to focus on things that brings them joy and hapiness, the pressure levels dropped back to normal levels and therefore helped boost the immune system.

They have treated many illnesses with this method of neurofeedback: epilepsy, pain, depression, Parkinson, ADHD, immune deficiency, cancer, etc.

***

Unfortunately, I've never been able to convince my friends to explore this path. Not even my dear partner, Michel, who passed away in 2009. When he was released after a three week stay in the hospital, I tried to share what I had learned with all my other friends, but it was clear he wasn't interested. He didn't want to take care of himself. All he wanted was to get is life back as it was before.

And so did my other friends. They didn't want to stop and think their life over. "I have too much things to do" they always said. Well, they never had the chance to do all those things... I even believe now that Michel wanted out of here in some subconscious way.

I am sorry if this is bugging you. I know I'm being intrusive. Maybe you are not interested to read about this. You have enough to deal with. I'm still not sure if I should send you this letter.

***

I will never forget all the nights I spent at the bedside of my friend Liliane. Lili had cancer. She was so scared of hospitals that I offered her to spend every the nights at her side. She refused at first but I convinced her to let me come.

She slept most of the time. I sat on a chair next to her bed, dozing off from time to time. I guess knowing that there was someone she knew right next to her helped her sleep better. Unfortunately, there was no much more I could do.

***

This was in 1993. I didn't know about neurofeedback then. I had made a lot of research at the library (we didn't have the Internet back then) and I had found the very interesting book of Drs Carl and Stephanie Simonton, "Getting Well Again" in which they were both promoting the mind-body connection in fighting cancer.

Carl Simonton, an oncologist, noticed that patient given the same treatment for the same cancer had different outcome. With the help of his wife, Stephanie Matthew-Simonton, a psychotherapist, they realised that most cancer patient had been through serious period of depression preceding the diagnosis of cancer, depressions that had never been treated.

These depressions followed many painful events in their lives: a bitter divorce, the death of close friend or family member, the loss of a job, bankrupcy, etc, leaving them angry, bitter and resentful. The Simontons realised that their patients who were willing to deal with their personnal issues lived longer and had less side effect. "For an oncologist to pioneer a mind-body approach was very provocative at the time, and yet very humane, it gave people more of a sense of control over their illness and allowed patients to think differently about their role in the healing process."

***

That fit Lily so well. She was a bundle of anger and resentment. She had spent all her life trying to make everyone happy around her: her husband, her children, her family, her neighbours, her co-workers... She was a true activist, helping everyone in her small village, supporting many humanitarian causes... She wanted to make the world a better place. But no matter how hard she tried, it never worked. Her marriage was a failure but didn't want to end it and she felt betrayed by everyone she loved most.

She read the book and, although it was a bit too contraversial for her, she aggreed to try the method proposed by the Simontons during her radiotherapy sessions. I was her "official coach". I must say we had A. Great. Time! It all worked well at first. She even went in full remission. It was fabulous.

But then, she went back home, to her old life, her old way of thinking, trying to solve the world's problems. Nobody had changed in her small town. It was the same old shit.

And the cancer came back...

During one of those nights, a couple of week before Lily died, I tried again to share the new knowledge I had learned. She turned her head toward me, and with no expression on her face she said: "It's too late, Jon". Then turning her head back and staring at the ugly beige wall in front of her, she said: "They all blame tobacco for the cancer (she had lung cancer) but it's not true. My husband smokes twice as much as I do and he doesn't have cancer." There was a lot of rage in her voice. After a pause, she pointed the finger to her chest and added: "I know why I have cancer. I know why I have cancer. I KNOW WHY I HAVE CANCER." She said it three times, raising her voice each time, a voice filled with anger and sorrow. She then slowly went back to sleep.


She was right about her husband though: twenty years later, he is now 65, still alive and kicking...

...and smoking!

***

Thank God, I had the opportunity to meet many people who had fully adopted the idea that there was a connection between mind and body regarding their health. All of them made drastic changes in their lives, from endidng a relationship that wasn't bringing anything good to those involved, to changing carreer, to moving to another city and more.

But most of all, they all said that they had to completely change their outlook about life and about the world. They all agreed to admit that, although fully justified and legitimate, the anger and resentment they were feeding were not helping them at getting their health back.

They also all recognised how difficult the whole process of changing their thought patterns and behaviour was and that they understood why so many people dealing with a serious illness won't choose this option.


***


Please, allow me to be blunt, my dear friend, but now is the time for you to be selfish. Now is the time to leave the whole world and all its stupidity and craziness alone. Now is the time to think about you and only about you.

I don't believe we can change the world. I don't believe we can change people. We can only change ourselves. That is what I've learned during all those nights I spent by the bed of my friends. They wanted the world to change. They wanted people around them to change. But they didn't want to change themselves.



Again, I apologize for being so nosy. You didn't ask for my opinion. After all, this is your life; you do whatever you want. I guess reading about your journey these past few weeks brought back all the sorrow I have for not having been able to reach my partner's heart. Oh, he was such a stubborn man alright!

I guess I hope that you would explore these alternative paths, if not for you, at least for those who love and care about you.

Perhaps you could do it for me, so I can one day meet you and shake you hand, and we would look into each other eyes and smile, no words needing to be uttered since we would know very well what each other thought.

I am being selfish, I know.

I'm sorry (God, do I sound Canadian or WHAT!)

Take care
Hugs
Jon



Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Indian Summer

It arrived on Tuesday.

The temperature rose above 25 C with this particular combination of warmth and coolness so typical to this time of the year.

The sun is signing his swan song.

I was to do some work around the house but instead, I went for a long walk along the river.

St-Lawrence. The Great.

MY river.

Click all pictures to enlarge in new window

The autumn colors are slowly fading away.



On the week days, I have the entire place all to myself. Only a few loners like me wander around silently, lost in their thoughts.

The light is so crisp and clear. And the smell... Ah, the smell of the dead leaves and the sound they make while I walk on them is simply intoxicating.

Some aster-like flowers are making the most of the last warm days.




It's the best time to pay a little visit to my favorite burger place in town.

It's about 11:30 AM and I'm hungry.





No doubt this is the last opprtunity to eat outside this year.


Burger with a view!

I forgot to ask for a toasted bun.

And I was sure I had asked for a pepsi...

Oh well... Still delicious.




I so often sat at this table and never before have I noticed the bridge! Can you see it?

Lemme zoom in.




Last Monday was Thanksgiving here in O Canada.

It is also on this same day that Michel passed away five years ago.

He actually died on the 11th, but the number 11 means nothing to me.




I can't believe how difficult it is for me to express my feelings.

I know very well how I feel. It just seems that no word is good enough.

And language isn't the problem here for I have as much difficulty in French as I have in English.





I am standing here, by the river and I am amazed at how calm and peaceful everything is in my life right now,

Nothing is happening.

I've got no project.

I let go of all my dreams. None of them ever came true anyways.

I have no goals, nothing to look forward to.

And I am fine.

Oh, so fine!




I recently realized that I haven't had one single panic attack in more than two years.

Twenty five years of hard work did pay off finally.




Mom is doing great too.

She also have found some peace of mind of her own, not without putting some hard work though.

Peace of mind just don't happen!


It's been 14 years since her first breakdown.

I remember very well that day, in october 2000, when I found her laying on the floor, crying and moaning, not wanting to get up.

"I am nothing. Everyone just keep walking on me. I am just a worm."

She just kept saying this over and over. It took me at least ten minutes to gently convinced her to come sit down with me on the bed.

She had spent all her life trying to live according to what was expected of her hoping that, one day, she would find happiness.



But happiness never came.




I gave up everything. job, career, friends, social life, to take care of her.

I knew it would be a long road. I had been through it myself.

One by one, we put the pieces of the puzzle back together.




Letting go.

I talked a lot about this in my previous posts. Letting go of anger, bitterness and resentment.

Letting go of this obsession we have with performance, perfection, excelling, producing and success.

Life has nothing to do with success. Let go of it.




This is a long process.

It can take years to achieve.

So many evenings I have spent in my room, all by myself, thinking and thinking...

So many hours spent trying to put the piece of my own puzzle together.






How many times have I heard people telling me to stop thinking and live my life. "You're thinking too much Jon". It never seem to occur to them that maybe they are the ones who aren't thinking enough.

They don't seem to understand (or they don't WANT to understand) that thinking IS my life.

I am not a dreamer. I am a thinker.

After all, I am not complaining.



They, on the other hand, are always complaining and bitching about everything.

They complain about their job, their boss and their co-workers.

Or they complain about they relatives, friends and neighbours

They complain about the world, politicians, corporations, rich people, stupid people...

They complain and complain and bitch and rant about all the shit they get.



And they keep getting shit all the time.



I used to be like that too.

I've learned that life isn't good to those who always whine and complain.

I saw it in my own life and I saw it in the lives of eveyone around me.

That also I had to let go.

Let go of the constant bitching and criticising.

Let go of always talking about what people do, don't do, should or shouldn't do.

Let go of always wanting to be right. 

Let go of all the sarcasms.





 
Oh, those biting sarcasms!

They make us feel like we are so bright and smart, but it's all a lie.

Our sarcasms are only a mask that hides our incapacity to be honest with ourselves, to look clearly at our flaws and make the proper changes in our lives.

I know they never made my life any better.

Neither did all my bitching and ranting about this crazy world we live in.

All it did is bring me down more and more. It had a negative influence on my attitude and behaviour and I ended up hurting myself and hurting a lot of people I care about.




And as I'm almost done with my little promenade, more thoughts are coming to my mind.



When I talked about letting go, I don't mean getting rid of anything.

We cannot get rid of anger, bitterness or resentment.

I still get angry and pissed off sometimes, but when I do, I immediatly let go of it and try to look calmly at the whole situation. If I can do something, I'll try it, otherwise, I move on. I'd rather keep my energy for things I can actually change.

I took me some time to get to this point but now, I don't hold onto my feelings because I learned that I am not my feelings. Feelings come and go. They don't define who I am at all.

The more I let go, the less shit I get.



And it's the same thing with the past.

I cannot get rid of my past. It's my own "history". I cannot forget it and don't want to forget it either.

I often felt that my life was a mess because of my past, but, after a lot of thinking and if I really want to be honest with myself, my messy life was mostly due to the fact that I was repeating the same thought patterns and behaviours over and over again, patterns that were instilled into me during my childhood, by my family, my clan, my tribe, school, religion, my culture, etc. 

I understood that all I needed to do was to recognize those patterns, learn how they work and change those that were not bringing anything good in my life..

The past will come back to my mind. It's a natural thing I guess. All I do is acknowlege it, accept it and simply repeat to myself that I don't need it right now.

At first, I had to repeat this many times every day. But the more I did it, the less the past clinged on me.


This also takes a lot of time.

And time we don't have much, do we?

Life is so short. We must run, run, run, and do as much stuff as possible and buy as much stuff as we can afford and if we can't afford it, there's always the Holy Credit Card to come to our rescue. Our value depends on our performance and our possession.

We want to have it all. But at what cost.




Am I being sarcastic?

Anyhow, I'm almost done here. This post is getting redundant.

It's almost Sunday and the indian summer is over.




Am I happy? I don't think so. Only selfish people can claim happiness in this world.

I gave up on happinness and the day I did, the sadness also went away.


Not happy but at peace.

At peace with the past.

At peace with the world.

And at peace with myself.

That, I sure know.


Maybe the next step is to let go of my peace of mind!


Hugs

Jon





Sunday, June 15, 2014

Les dimanches en musique #8



Our sweetheart MJ, on her Father's Day post, has asked her devoted followers who always read her blog in full nudity, what did our fathers teach us (besides armpits farts).




I must admit that her question stopped me right in my tracks. I thought about it for a few minutes and couldn't come up with an answer. Isn't there anything at all my father taught me that turned out to be useful in my life. I most certainly sure there is. But I can't still put my finger on it.

Dad and I have never seen eye to eye. What a dissapointment it must have been for him that is only son didn't like sports, didn't punch back whenever kids bullied him in school, a boy who was mostly passive, who threw the ball "like a girl raised in a patriarchal society that doesn't let women play baseball!"

A sissy boy I was. Un fif.

He did his best to straighten me up until mom told him to leave me alone. Mom was never good at standing up for herself but when it came to her kids, nobody, not even God could have touched them.

Dad was not violent (althought there was a lot of violence in him). He was not a brute. He was just a control maniac, a manipulator and a compulsive liar. One day he could be the greatest guy in the world and the next day, the biggest asshole.

A good man he was (to the eyes of everyone else). Worked hard, paid all the bills, put food on the table, send my sister and I to the best schools (so he taught). He was also very religious. He would never miss the Sunday mass and was involved in the administration of our church. And there was no way his kids would miss the mass too. When I got 18 years old, I decided that I wouldn't go to church anymore. He wasn't pleased with that obviously, but again, mom "got in the way":

"If he doesn't want to go to church, it only means that we were not good example enough".

And dad never said anything after.

When I got home with my first (and last) piercing (the left ear), he didn't openly dissaproved but mentioned in a condencending tone how foolish I was to mutilate myself. To this I replied: "Well, you had me circumcised at birth, didn't you? How do you call that". My mom laughed so loud and dad knew he had lost the battle.

No. Dad and I never got along. I could see how mom was saddened by this so I tried to keep my relationship with him as smooth as possible. I would learned later on that she did the same thing for the entire 41 years of their marriage. "I knew I had made a mistake but I also had two kids and I did all I could so they would not pay for my mistake"

****

To make the story short, I haven't seen my father since the year 2000. I cannot say that I miss him. It took me almost 25 years to heal. Today I'm fine. I've made peace with the past and I got rid of all anger, resentment and bitterness. Dad did what he could with what he had received. He could have done more. Why he didn't is out of my reach and I don't have time to waste trying to understand.



The only thing that matters is me, right here and right now. I am not the product of my past, because the past doesn't exist: it's an illusion. I don't deny the memory of the past but I don't want to live there.




And I've still got no idea what my father could have taught me.


But I do know what another man has taught me. A man who did for me what my father was unable to do: teach me to trust myself and not be afraid. Michel taught me that I had to become my own father, my own mother, my own teacher, my own best friend. That all the answers lie deep within myself and that if I'm careful enough, if I bring my anger to silence, I would hear the voice of my soul showing me the way, my way. He taught me that the world is my canvas on which I have to paint my own masterpiece: my life. (I know I've said it before and I'm going to say it again)


Today, my thoughts go to this wonderful man who never stopped believing in me until the end.



So here's a song to all of those who, although they found it hard to live without that special person, still wake up every morning smiling and do everything they can to make the rest of the world smile with them.


Unchained Melody, Jimmy Scott (1925-2014) (bio)



Hugs

Jon