Water’s Edge

3 November 1974

DINNERTIME. He should have been home by now. Sent out to look for for my little brother, I checked out his most likely haunts, asked around, until I found myself tiptoeing on the edge of the Old Pier thinking the worst. The tide was high, only a foot or so from the level of the stonework, the water so vast and grey. From that vantage point, I had a good view of the shoreline in front of the Dunollie Hotel and the Garage, but not a brother in sight. The temperature was dropping fast and my tummy was rumbling. Just as I pondered whether I had done enough to justify going back to the house now, an invisible pair of hands shoved me into the drink.

Feet first, I plunged into the dull ebb. Within seconds, panic had engulfed my senses, eradicating everything I had ever learned from Mrs Weir. The first ascent back to the surface seemed to take an eternity; every attempt to come up for air and scream at the top of my voice only increased the likelihood of being pulled back under. With every gasp, my efforts felt more and more futile.

Matchstick people streamed from around the Garage and the Dunollie. Voices. A loud splash. Then a pair of strong arms taking hold of me and pushing me into the waiting arms of someone else standing by the water’s edge.

I recognised my rescuer straight away. The owner of the Harbour Grill, still in his chef’s whites, had saved my life. By the time I was delivered to my parents, my brother had showed up. After dinner, I was treated like a princess and tucked straight into my parents’ pre-warmed bed.

What a way to start my birthday. Tomorrow I would be six.

Copyright (c) M K MacInnes 2020

The Slippery Slope

THEY told me I was too small. Too loud. Too quiet. I was eating my food all wrong.

HE told me that’s just human nature. It’s a dog eat dog world. He told me I wasn’t aggressive enough. I had to toughen up. And yet, he told me to tell no-one.

SHE taught me I was too clever for my own good. It was better to keep my mouth shut.

THEY told me i was too nice. I couldn’t understand why consderation of others was regarded as a weakness. I tried to live by example, but gave in. I even became ‘bad’ for a brief moment and hated myself even more.

I taught MYSELF to suffer in slence and in time, my self-loathing was complete. Soon the whole world would walk all over me.

Hand to Hand

I have a former work colleague who is happy to watch people arguing partisan politics online for hours on end. Me, I couldn’t do it, it would drive me insane. But so she tells me, she has spotted an interesting trend. Something interesting is happening in the Brexit/Scottish independence debates.

We all know the script. Usually, it is the conservative/defending position that takes the more aggressive stance. The opposing side is the ‘enemy’. Although generally speaking, the progressive position plays less dirty, with repeated exposure over time, both sides can become as bad as each other.It is now standard practice for political campaigns to use paid agents provocateurs to veer public opinion in their favour or away from where the discourse might naturally flow. These campaigns also act as magnets to organic trolls acting out their fear of the unknown. You can always tell which ones are which. The paid trolls give themselves away every time in their sheer stamina and consistency in their use of poltical jargon. It is laughable to think that only the Russians could be capable of such a thing!

The organic trolls, however, are real people. Sad, maybe. Bitter, maybe. But real nonetheless.

And this is where tentative change is occurring.

Taking an argument about COVID resrictions in the UK as an example, the engagements might start with the usual mudslinging but if the time is taken to interrogate the reasoning behind certain assumptions and postions, what becomes clear is that a) the ‘troll’ is acting on misinformation, a misapprehension or a misunderstanding b) they genuinely believe what they are saying c) they are over the moon to discover that they have the wrong end of the stick and d) they are really just scared and want someone to take the time to listen to their concerns. The overriding theme is loneliness.

Of course there are maldoers and idiots among them, but contrary to popular misconception (promoted by the media I have to say), the majority of these bitter, angry people are as sensitive as you or I, they have just learned to process their emotions differently. In the rush to embrace other disenfranchised parts of the community, such as ethnic groups, women or the LGBT community, the old mainstream was pushed to one side by the progressive elites.

Obviously, there are individuals out there who have figured this out and who are willing to take the time to engage on a more human level with their political opponents. They are not engaging from a position of moral or intellectual superiority but as equals. Friendships are forming. Some are meeting in real life over coffee.

I am writing this because I feel strongly that our brothers and sisters across the Pond need to be reassured that this is how it is done. Not by Washington, not Westminster – just us.

Reunifying a divided population is possible but it has to be undertaken in a sprit of compassion – at the grass roots, on an individual level. It is less about finding common political ground than about rediscovering our common humanity. If we can do that, the politics will do just fine.

Apocalypse

Depending on who you talk to, the Apocalypse is either the end of everything or the end of life as we know it. Me, I never imagined that when it finally happened, it would be like watching paint dry …

Regardless of whether we are in THE Apocalypse, certainly by definition we are in AN apocalypse of sorts. The word itself means revelation, the removal of the veil of illusion when all will be revealed and nothing will be left hidden. It is easy to see how that could translate in the context of the internet age; it is difficult these days for even governments to keep anything hidden. So apocalypse is less about suffering and more about being forced to see things as they are.

We tend to fixate on the external physical suffering. Most of the graphic imagery of Revelation is not literal but symbolic, in that most of the action occurs within the psyche. And there is a clear implication that we ourselves are co-creators of our own suffering. Again, this correlates with the warnings that if we don’t change course now, our planet will die and us with it.

However you cut it, every end is a new beginning. Without death there is no rebirth. Things have to break down in order to build back up. In some countries, apocalyptic events occur on a continuous basis. Try tellling them it’s not the Apocalypse. The earth has endured countless cataclysmic events and this current world crisis will not be the last.

The greatest arrogance, of course, is for any one of us to believe that we have any greater prerogative than anyone else to survive anything the earth throws at us. God or no God, ultimately, Mother Nature will call the shots. The more we try and control our way out of this, the worse it will be.

Whatever happens, if it is in my own destiny to survive the global crisis, I look forward to seeing what lies on the other side. Hopefully, it will be a world where hate and anger have burnt out and Gaia has a fighting chance to recover from Us.

Questing and the Ego

FOR WEEKS it has been my intention to pull together all my Carl Jung notes on the ego into a semi-erudite article, to follow on from my earlier attempts on the Shadow and the Heros’s Journey. However, my overthinking quota is up for this week, so I’ll stick instead to my own observations.

The ego refers to that part of the conscious psyche that deals with survival and how we fit into the world. As we grow from childhood into adulthood, it generally becomes corrupted by the banishment of undesirable traits into the unconscious (the Shadow – I deal with this elsewhere). I suppose this is why the word ‘ego’ has such a bad press – it has come to be associated with unhealthy egos (dickheads).

In eastern philosphy, the ego is regarded as something that must be transcended in order for us to become enlightened. We are but specks and life is but a meandering river of infinite possibilities. Not everything is knowable.

Western philosophers, on the other hand, gave us the idea of the questing hero. Now it’s all about pursuing – and winning. Life is there for the taking, if you’ve got the self-belief to do it. The wealth of infinite possibilties resides within you and anything that is not knowable does not exist.

Both schools of thought are unrealistic because they cherry-pick (they are also not comparing like with like). Transcending the ego is nigh on impossible for most folks and overemphasis on control and self-determination takes no account of the fact that our lives are mostly dictated by the random and unexpected. Neither will equip us for the road ahead.

There is a time and a place for both ways of being. Even the I-ching recognises that there are moments in time when it is appropriate to act and others where you must sit back in the knowledge you have done all you can. It’s about knowing when to ride the waves and when to let oneself be carried by them. The problem with today’s culture is that the ‘answer’ often lies in putting the sea in a more convenient place.

It still amazes me how religiously some philosophers stick to one camp or the other. From personal experience, I would agree with Jung that in the transition to psychic wholeness, the ego becomes integrated with other parts of the psyche rather than killed off (which only creates more shadow anyway, so what’s the point?).

A healthy middle ground is achievable.

Being a self-professed Quester, I am keenly aware of the pitfalls of taking a ‘hero’s journey’ approach to life, such as taking it or myself too seriously or using it to set myself apart. If an element of ego were not present at all, then literally I would not be able to achieve the level of propulsion required to do something that goes against the grain (how much worse would my procrastination be without it!). As long as I am able to hold my hands up and admit to my mistakes, then at least for now I regard my own ego as being in a healthy balance with the rest of my psyche (there’s plenty room for improvement, believe me). This also involves knowing when it’s time to take a break, slow down and acknowledge when it’s time to go back to the drawing board. Dealing with the unknown and making things up as you go along is a lot of fun when you learn to let go of controlling the outcome.

It is only when operating from a position of protectionism and fear that the ego becomes unhealthy. For me a healthy ego is able to stand in its own power, while acknowledging and respecting the ability of others to do the same, on the understandng that all are equal in the service of the Whole. For want of a better word, this is Love.

Reality check October 2020

I KNOW, I know, to all appearances I’ve well and truly lost the plot.

Maybe so, but I sleep at night …

While on paper my prospects are looking increasingly bleak (whose aren’t these days?), I am more at peace with myself than I have ever been in my entire life. That’s because, for better or worse, I stand in my own truth, noone else’s. And I’m past caring who knows what about me.

This time last year I was on three different sleep medications. Since March (touch wood), I have slept like a baby. That’s even with the continuation of my dystonia symptoms, which started two and a half years ago and are still affecting my speech.

This time last year, I overcame what little fear of death I had. This year, I have overcome the fear of what might happen to me if I do this or do that, say this or say that. I have stopped apologising for being what people expect me to be. I am proud to be a misfit.

Among other things, I have learned to be more accepting of things as they are. I still plan ahead lke a maniac but I take things one week, not months, at a time.

It goes without saying that the course I have charted for myself is a stressful one. But it would be a damn sight worse for my mental health were I continuing to do it covertly. I have spent half a lifetime hiding and I’m done with it. Now the only reason I have to keep my cards close to my chest is for want of not giving away spoilers.

I must point out that fulfillng my life purpose does not hang on what Mr Butler does next. Now that I have got that first hurdle out of the way, that is daring to speak his name, there’s a lot I can get on with in the short term while waiting for some kind of response (without holding my breath), bearing in mind that I won’t be at liberty to discuss it in real time (or possibly ever), if or when that occurs.

I don’t need any one particular outcome to succeed. There’s any number of ways this could pan out and these are only the ones I’ve thought of. I am slowly but surely finding myself and that is what it’s all about. The journey IS the destination.

Anyway, on a therapeutic level, I must be doing something right. There’s a lot to be said for being true to yourself. To anybody still harbouring any notion that you cannot be who you were born to be AND a paid up member of society, financial constraints to one side, you really should try it some time.

Open letter to Gerry Butler II

Dear Gerry

Twenty-five years almost to the day since your mythic departure from Scotland. Twenty-five years since we parted company and my life was turned on its head in ways even you could not possibly imagine. You helped make me the person I am today, so for that you have my heartfelt gratitude.

Thing is, I really need your help. Over the past seven years, I have written a memoir that is nearly ready to publish. It’s one of those stories that has to be told and you are the inciting incident. As with any inspirational memoir, others will benefit from it, only I don’t have the resources to iron out some of the legal issues.

I am so sorry to go public with this but my circumstances dictate that I have to. In the spirit of self-healing, please will you at least read it? I have just published the first two chapters on my website at mkmacinnes.com. For what it”s worth, there’s also a trailer.

Yours in good faith
Morgan

Open letter to Gerry Butler

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Dear Gerry

Twenty-five years almost to the day since your mythic departure from Scotland. Twenty-five years since we parted company and my life was turned on its head in ways even you could not possibly imagine. You helped make me the person I am today, so for that you have my heartfelt gratitude.

Thing is, I really need your help. Over the past seven years, I have written a memoir that is nearly ready to publish. It’s one of those stories that has to be told and you are the inciting incident. As with any inspirational memoir, others will benefit from it, only I don’t have the resources to iron out some of the legal issues.

I am so sorry to go public with this but my circumstances dictate that I have to. In the spirit of self-healing, please will you at least read it? I have just published the first two chapters on my website here. For what it”s worth, there’s also a trailer here.

Yours in good faith
Morgan

THE LOST SECRET (first two chapters)

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For reasons that I won’t go into here, I have decided to scrap any attempt to sell my ‘mini-book’ on Amazon. Why it’s only two chapters and only on Kindle needs too much explanation. Instead, it is available here via the link below. This may be temporary, it may be permanent, I don’t know. We’ll see where this goes.

You can read the first two chapters here.

Although this offering is free, donations are gratefully accepted.

The Quandary

I am by no means an expert in anything but when it comes to being me I am a fucking pro

I’ve sweated these past few days about how to write this post. I had intended to attempt to justify the course of action I am about to take, before then realising that I didn’t have to explain myself at all. Firstly, the circumstances that led me to this juncture are too complex to pack into a single post – secondly, I’ve over-explained myself already – and thirdly, too many spoilers! No amount of explanation can adequately convey what is the most finely sprung state of affairs you can possbly imagine (think tight-ropes, nooses and crocodile clips).

I have no doubt that many will look at my actions and think “What the ****?” Suffice to say that I have agonised long and hard over this and, given the specifics of my circumstances, it is the most appropriate action I can take.

It is what it is. Stay tuned …

M K MacInnes
5 October 2020