Good to be alive

Perhaps it’s the cold morning air, or the way the wind rushes past my partially frozen face that makes me feel so alive. Or it could be the fact my heart is racing due to the pedal power involved in heading up the very first hill before i hit the dirt trail, where the track levels out and i can cruise along for a few hours at a reasonable pace without the interruptions of passing cars, trucks and busses.

It really doesn’t matter what it is that’s making me feel so alive. It’s the mere fact I am alive, and am still able to get on the bike and head out to destinations unknown. And if not a destination unknown, a very familiar track, like an old friend, waiting with open arms to take me back. No questions asked.

And that’s what we all need in our lives, that friend that will welcome us back with a tight hug and a warm smile. No matter how many miles have passed, No questions asked, as no answer is needed. Just knowing that all is good in the world, at least for that moment in time when sharing a coffee, and a laugh.

I would hate to try and live life without someone close to share a laugh, or to unload my thoughts, fears and even my tears with. Oh, and for me, life without coffee would make the world a much harder place to live, but not impossible. There is always a cuppa tea.

Alone

Most people will tell you they are never alone and always have someone close by or around them in their lives. They think they are not alone. But in reality they are and can’t, or won’t admit it to themselves that at times they are truly alone.

Just because we are in a crowded room, with a group of workmates in the office, on the road with a group of MAMIL, or even at home with family. We can still be very alone. Lost in our own world where we know it’s safe, and a place where we can retreat to in a time of despair, sorrow, anger or even pain.

So where is that special ‘alone’ space we crawl back into? It’s the place we head back to when it all becomes too much and it seems as if no one really gives a fuck. Even if they do, we don’t seem to understand.

That so called ‘alone’ space I crawl back into is one where I not only feel safe. But also alone. Very alone! And letting others into would be similar to lowering the drawbridge and allowing friends, and possibly foes into my private world.

A world where pain and anger can be dealt with in a way in which only I know how to deal with. And if that pain, anger and suffering somehow can’t be dealt with, there is always my road bike and a stretch of road that never seems to end.

So no matter who we are, we all tend to deal with the curve balls life throws at us from time to time. But when we are continually bombarded with one curve ball after another, it gets harder to keep going. And even our own private world begins to crumble before our very eyes.

In these times we need to reach out for help. And knowing very well this is easier said than done, it can he done so we can continue our life journey without the black dog breathing down our necks.

Every breath is a gift

From the very first breath we take to fill our lungs so we can let out a scream all mothers long to hear, until the last breath we take when we leave this earth. Each and every breath we take in between is a gift many of us take for granted.

No one knows how many times we will take a breath in our lives, but one thing we know for certain, one day we will take a final breath and leave this world. Forever.

In saying that, the gift of life is something we need to cherish, every moment, every single day. No matter how bad we think our day is going to be. We are alive and kicking.

Even though we may moan and groan through our normal morning rituals, we are living and breathing. The other option has absolutely no appeal to me whatsoever. None. Zip. Nada.

But what about the times when things are tough and we feel as if we are carrying the entire world on our shoulders. Do we buckle under the weight or do we find the strength to forge forward?

Personally, I keep pushing forward, no matter how tough it gets. It’s not easy. Every single day is a hard fought struggle. And the struggle is real. It’s not something that I have made up. There are so many people out there who know and understand the struggle. The struggle to keep the black dog at bay.

When we think the dog is safely back in his kennel, we turn around and realise the bastard is nipping at our heels. Snapping away and trying to drag us back into the darkness that can shroud our every waking moment.

The black dog closes in with every step we take. But with the support of our family and friends, we can ensure he stays in his kennel.

Never be afraid to speak up. Others around us may not see how we are truly feeling. And that is the time we are the most vulnerable to the jaws of the black dog.

What’s a hug?

The Oxford dictionary defines a hug as the following.

Squeeze (someone) tightly in one’s arms, typically to express affection.

But is that all a hug really is? There is so much more to a hug than just squeezing a person who is close to you. It means you not only care for them when they are in a time of need, but because they mean something more to you than just another way of transferring some body heat. Although, this can normally be the case in the long and cold winter months.

A hug is very much a two way street. Well, a real hug is. There are some hugs that are meant to be for show only. These ones are normally, quick and they feel like a cheap imitation, just like a fake Ming Dynasty vase. They look great from an outsiders point of view, but the real truth can be seen upon closer inspection. They are just plain fakes.

So what does a fake hug look or even feel like? That’s hard to define, but a fake hug resembles a ‘cheek air kiss’. Close to a kiss, but not really hitting the mark. A fake hug can be spotted when only one person is really hugging and the other one is just following suit for appearance sake.

A real hug is something that is not forced, its given freely, anytime and anywhere. In the kitchen, on the front doorstep, and even in a lift in an office building. They are real hugs and are meant for much more than body heat. They express gratitude, understanding and love.

Sometimes an unexpected hug is one of the best things you can receive. And in many cases, giving one will bring warmth and happiness to someone who needs that very personal ‘pick me up’.

Hugs cost nothing to give except for a few moments of your time. And that time is well worth the effort for all parties involved.

Give a few hugs and make someone’s day. It’s so easy and there is always a benefit when giving one. Because there is a very good chance it will be returned tenfold.

Is suicide the only way out?

With a number of celebrities taking their own lives recently, I have been left to wonder if that is the only way to resolve life issues. The ending of their life may be the end of their own journey and problems. but what about the remaining journeys of the family and friends who are left to grieve and pick up the pieces.

Loved ones will always be left to grieve for the loss, and will continue to wonder if they had missed the signs or if there was something they could, or should have done to have avoided the loss of a beautiful life.

Without doubt, there will always be a time of darkness and depression in our lives, it’s only natural. We can’t cruise though our entire lives without hitting a few lows. But is suicide the only way out?

Looking around at the people who are suffering and are still with us, it shows there is another option rather than ending it all. There is pain and suffering in their everyday lives. From the moment they wake up, until they go to sleep. There is constant pain. Never ending pain.

It’s a sad thing to know many people are in a place where all they can see is darkness in their lives with no happy future and no way out. Their options seem very limited, and they think death is their best friend. But is it? The fight with the black dog can be a temporary part of life. Death is forever.

In a person’s mind, it may not be the best way to resolve the problem, but in that state, they can’t see any other way forward.

The next week, the next month, the next year might be bad. But none of us know when the tide will turn. And yes, looking that far into the future is impossible, for anyone. Let alone for a person who is depressed.

Family and friends are normally so close that they are unable to see what is really going on under the covers. They may miss the early warning signs and after that, life is like normality to them.

So in many cases, family and friends never get to shine the light and help because they never realize there is a problem until it’s too late. And after it’s done. they torture themselves because they never saw it coming and have no idea why it happened.

Those who feel all hope is gone are very good at hiding their true state of mind from people around them, and those who are closest are often blindsided by the situation. Work colleagues are often in a better position to see the warning signs as they are not as close. Thats why its very important to ask “are you ok”.

In the end all we can do is to be there, look out for the warning signs and help keep the black dog at bay.

If you or a friend feel the need to talk to someone, the following links can help.

www.beyondblue.org.au

www.lifeline.org.au

You never miss the life you don’t live.

As I sat at my desk surrounded by a few workmates and discussed what we were having for lunch, one of them jokingly suggested a healthy salad. It didn’t bother me as I already had my tuna and kale salad, packed and ready to be devoured with much gusto.

So during the very heated food discussion, the topic of buying pork crackling from Mr Crackle came up, and very quickly had us all salivating at the mere thought of devouring a bucket load of perfectly fried crackling to accompany our salads.

It was then that the healthy side of my brain crawled out from where it normally hibernates and piped up and said ‘That will take off a few years of our lives’.

The response I got back from one of my colleagues was one that made my head spin. ‘You never miss the life you don’t live’. And it did get me thinking.

We live for the future and what we can do with ourselves down the track. We look forward to our next weekend, our next holiday or our next fishing trip. Some of us even look forward to our next 100km ride (Sad, but true).

But what happens if we don’t get to that weekend, that trip or even that ride? We have no idea what lays install for us in the next moment, let alone in a year’s time.

We need to make the most of the very limited time we have while we are living and breathing. Being six foot under doesn’t count as time well spent on this blue/green planet of ours.

The time we do have is time we need to make the most of. I know I have said it before in my previous blog, Two dates and a dash, but essentially, that’s all our lives will be if we continue to look so far down the beaten track, that we don’t make the most of the time we have now. Not next year, not next month. Not even tomorrow. Now is the time.

If there is ever a time to get up and do something you know will put a smile on your face, make you drool with delight, or even make your heart skip a beat. Just do it. Do it now and don’t hesitate for a single second.

Don’t just make plans for what you want to do later in life. Now is the time.

I’m only human. Flesh and blood

No matter the color of our skin, we are all the same. We are all flesh and blood, skin and bones, muscle and tissue. So in reality, this means we are all prone to the same injuries and illnesses. And is saying that, we are all going to die at some point.

So it doesn’t matter whether we are black or white, or any shade in between, there is good and bad in everyone of us, and the hope that good outshines the bad is something we all want. But in saying this, there are people out there that only want to cause harm and pain to others around them. Some intentional, and other pain, very unintentional. But pain nonetheless.

With knowing that the colour of our skin has no direct impact on what we do in our lives, we are all prone to screwing up and doing one thing that will weigh heavily on our minds. Sometimes for a short while after, or other times that screw-up will stay with us for the remainder of our living years, until we take our last breath. We all make mistakes as our mental programming is similar. None of us can claim to be perfect. No matter what we think of ourselves.

Now knowing we are all programmed in the same way and should be able to forgive others of their discretions. which we do at some point. We also know that the people around us screw up, and we normally manage to forgive them for what they have done. Sometimes the pain takes longer to fade, but it does. And in the end we can forgive. Even if the memory stays firmly lodged in the back of of minds.

So, if we can eventually forgive others for the things they do and say that cause us pain, why can’t we forgive ourselves for the things we do to others? The ones we somehow hurt can eventually forgive us, but we cant let go of what we have done and are unable to cut ourselves some slack and let the past be exactly that. The past.

But sometimes it’s easier said than done. We continue turning over our ‘bad’ deeds in our minds, and don’t let them fade into the deepest part of our memory banks. Not that we should ever forget our mistakes, but they should not control our lives from the moment the mistake was made, until the moment we die.

When we reach the point in our lives where we know we need to let go of a memory, what can we do? We can’t just erase the memory, like they do with memories in the movie Total Recall. If we don’t like the current memories we have, we simply can’t have another one implemented. As good as an idea as that sounds, it’s not going to happen. At least not in my lifetime.

So what do we do? We can ask for forgiveness, but that may have already been given. In the end, we are the only ones who can let go of the memories that are weighing us down. These memories are the ones that are possibly causing more stress, pain and bitterness to others than the actual ‘bad’ deed itself.

Kindness and understanding from the people around us will make a difference. It may take time, but time is all we have.