Choose Life…

“Choose life. Choose a job. Choose a career. Choose a family. Choose a Samsung television with cinema sound. Choose a range cooker and integrated appliances, a Mazda CX-5 Sport, iPhones One through X and Sauvignon Blanc wine chillers. Choose good health, low cholesterol and a manageable Body Mass Index. Choose a tracker mortgage. Choose a timeshare. Choose a move to the capital and an affordable pied-a-terre. Choose a minimalist wardrobe in fifty shades of grey. Choose three different waistcoats in a range of fabrics. Choose listening to Radiohead on your meditation chair. Choose watching thought-provoking Netflix documentaries about Di-Methyl-Tryptamine. Choose Lego building days. Choose retiring from the rat race at the end of it all, enjoying your last years without listening to the demands of shareholders. Choose your future. Choose your friends. Choose life . . . But why would I want to do a thing like that? Actually, I do choose life. And the reasons? There are no reasons. Who needs reasons when you’ve got love…”

We are all, to some extent, subsumed and consumed by capitalism and consumerism, seemingly perma-fixed into the cyclical behaviours society deems necessary for us to function properly. Life it seems, continues to devolve on a daily basis as we move away from marvelling at the wonders of Life, the Universe and Everything to being preoccupied with treading a path of materialism and the possession of things.

There comes a time during most white collar careers (being it fleeting or perennial) when the daily slog around the corporate treadmill becomes too much to bear and the dream of quitting the “rat race” becomes a desired outcome, a desire in fact over everything else.

We define the concept of “rat race” as a way of life in which people are caught up in a fiercely competitive struggle for wealth or power in an endless, self-defeating and pointless pursuit. This exhausting, repetitive lifestyle leaves little quality time for enjoyment or spiritual fulfilment and ultimately leads to stress, anxiety and eyes fixed on the nearest exit sign (via any means of escape).

I’ve been there many, many times over the last twenty five years of employment. On several occasions, I have come to the conclusion that a life less hectic away from the corporate ziggurat and into a new career would bring the required level of happiness and satisfaction (whatever that level is), yet each time I have chosen to stay on the same path as I have to consider not only myself in each decision, but those around me who rely on my support.

As time goes by, responsibility diminishes and with that the realm of creative opportunity opens up so that alternative careers and lifestyles become achievable.

A retrospective look over the last two and a half decades has seen that things have worked out for the better each time a major life decision was to be made based on informed and sound choices and taking chances that bring about positive change.

From experience, there are two key questions that need answering before any major life decisions are made:

1. What realistic and alternative choices are there?
2. What are the chances that changes can bring about positive outcomes?

Those who believe in free will or self-determination will concede that there are seemingly infinite possibilities in life and the choices that we make (to paraphrase quantum physics parlance) collapse all other available pathways so that outcome of such decisions produces what we know as consensual reality (created without external influence).

Then there is chance and probability. If there are seemingly infinite possibilities in life, then there is a certain probability attached to each choice we make, which although subjective, determines whether the decisions we make will bring about a better (or worse) experience for us.

Change occurs only once we have committed to making a choice based on the best chance of likely positive outcome.

Ultimately, each and every choice we make is ours and ours alone to make as we act out those decisions both physically and meta-physically, but a significant amount of decisions are influenced by third parties. Family, friends, colleagues, organisations and legislation help and/or hinder those choices and our life-journey is shaped accordingly.

The choice to surround ourselves with those who have positive influence in our lives is also ours.

When I look back at my life thus far, I have removed those who exerted a negative influence (fear) on my choices and instead surrounded myself with positive people (love), and whilst certain decisions have brought about shock and horror to some, my life and the life of those I care for is richer and better for it.

Life is an adventure, a joyous adventure and if we do only get one crack at it (well one that we can remember) then we must always make the right choices and with chance on our side we can change ourselves, those within our immediate vicinity and eventually the wider world for the better.

Choose love and not fear…

Choose life and live it…


The Eternal Return…

Ouroboros. Kundalini. Eliade. Reincarnation. Cyclical time. All of these are antiquus terms to describe the eternal return, in that Life, the Universe and Everything recurs until the point at which the soul (or self depending on your outlook) has matured enough to understand the true meaning of existence and no further lessons need learning.

And so it is with me. This year was always going to involve significant decisons and marked change. My position and the physical office I was attatched both became obsolete due to a strategic change in policy, meaning that staff had to relocate to London, Bengaluru, Den Hague or Houston or face redundancy (albeit with a golden handshake).

Earlier this year (as this blog advised) I had resigned myself to moving on to pastures new, paying off a significant portion of my commercial and financial committments and finding a new position in a new company. That decision in itself came with the stark realisation that our long term plan (the wife and I) of retiring at fifty-five and leaving behind the conglomerates and corporations to venture out across the globe in search of peace, love and understanding was dead in the water.

Not only was that a rather depressing thought after making abitious plans, but also was the actual reality of finding alternative employment at a significantly reduced rate of pay (due to the fact that this country is still very much London-centric and the concept of a “Northern Powerhouse” is simply a hollow promise from a woeful and totally inept government).

So too was the realisation that I would most likely have to go contracting again until another permanent position came up, which in itself would mean that I would have to travel again and with that the uncertainty and insecurity a life of short term job hopping brings.

The alternative was of course to change career and lifestyle completely, giving up on the broken capaitalist system we all find ourselves in today by downscaling our operations; selling the family home and car to something more affordable and green, reducing the monthly overheads and finding a job with less pay and a spiritual uplift but that “hippy path” would bring with it so much change and resistance that I had no doubt that the family unit as a whole would not entertain that, not even for one second (and perhaps I’m not even ready for that, yet).

Then something changed. My manager left the company mid-year and was replaced by one of the most inspiring leaders I have come across in a long time, who managed to convince me that I was a valued member of staff and would continue to be so should I change my mind and relocate to London.

After some serious contemplation and family discussion, we decided that I would move. From a personal perspective, the decision was arguably the most difficult one I have ever had to make. Here we had a carbon copy of the position we found ourselves in when we came back from Malaysia; the family in the North and the father farther South, two hundred miles away from his spiritual epicentre. Geographical displacement is one thing, spiritual disconnection is something quite more significant.

As I have scribed on many occasions, my wife and I drifted apart last time, almost to the point where we were no more. Only the finest and brittle of filaments existed and it took months if not years to turn that thin strand to a bond of steel once again as it is today (I hope). In project parlance, the change we now face introduces a significant risk which we are trying to mitigate by putting firm actions in place to make sure the same thing does not reoccur.

If that was not enough, our situation has now become identical, an exact facsimile of time gone by. When we returned from living aboard we tore down the walls of our house, stripping everything back to the bare brick and starting over, whilst at the same time I had to work in London every week. Last week a sink hole appeared in our kitchen and once I peeled back the layers of flooring, a great many things were revealed. First was the stench of old things, rotten to core. Then it was the darkness I was staring into, a deep and vacuous void that exists underneath. Then it was the stress and chaos of putting all of the broken things right.

So here I am, a Scouse version of Phil Connors, staring directly at the groundhog pleading for guidance and moral support, pleading that I did learn the lessons from last time so I don’t repeat the exact same self-centred mistakes of yesterday today…

The Game Of Life…

The Human. The Man/Woman. The Husband/Wife. The Father/Mother. The Son/Daughter. The Brother/Sister. The Uncle/Aunt. The Friend. The Citizen. The Worker. These are but a few of the roles we act out on the world stage but are they a true reflection of who we really are? Have we been coerced into such archetypes by others, too afraid to change and reveal who we really are? If we were to strip all of the roles away until only the basic elements of existence was left, bound by no rules or expectations, what would be revealed?


The more roles we adopt (choice or otherwise) the more complex our game of life becomes. With added complexity comes conflict and conformity; conflict in terms of competing requests from others and conformity in terms of abiding by the rules that come with the roles we play. Gluing all of our roles and rules together presents the outward facing “I” to others; an amalgam of all of the various parts that make up our personality.

However, what we present on the outside is invariably not what we are at the core, our true self often remains hidden because at times it is easier to play by the rules of the game of life and adopt a path of least resistance. If we were to truly function from our inner self rather than the multi-faceted ego we have created over time, it would reveal who we really are.

I recently questioned my role of “The Worker”. I have been forced to change roles recently and whilst I have always welcomed change in the workplace, this temporary downwards step has revealed a certain unhappiness in me which has brought into question (not for the first time) my “being” within the company. It’s safe to say my journey over the last thirteen years has been somewhat bi-polar in that my one-hundred-and-fifty-seven month tenure thus far has seen incredible highs and ridiculous lows. I know that in all likelihood I will be leaving the company at the end of this year yet felt somewhat reluctant to tread water presently as the role is bringing boredom and value-less activities to a whole new level.

Here’s is where the “roles rules” kick in. Do I speak up now declaring a vocational epiphany and risk being kicked out of the company earlier than I would have liked? Do I pretend to like the job I’m doing on the off chance I may get a stay of execution beyond the planned leaving date? Do I tread water until the end of the year and take the money and go and find something beyond which may enrich my game?

Here’s is where the “roles complexity” kicks in. Do I do what the inner self is guiding me to do or do I let the influence of characters within the game of life (some of which listed above) dictate and influence what should happen next?

So last week I made that decision and told my manager to release me as soon as possible. I have grown very tired of life within this fractured organisation satisfying the needs of a few people with tasks that have no benefit to me or my “career”. People tread water and put up with things for far too long in life, too afraid that change may be bad and maintaining the status quo is the right thing to do. The right thing to do, those words when put together are seldom subjective, they always seem loaded in favour of external influence. What is truly the right thing to do, only we can decide that for ourselves and we should not follow blindly what society has programmed us to believe in its version of the right thing to do.

So I have taken a leap of faith that will change my situation for the better or worse. Financially I will owe “the man” a lot less after paying off a major chunk of my mortgage and with that comes a freedom to explore opportunities which may not pay as well, but may be far more enjoyable than what I am currently doing.

Remember folks, it’s just a ride:


“The world is like a ride in an amusement park, and when you choose to go on it you think it’s real because that’s how powerful our minds are. The ride goes up and down, around and around, it has thrills and chills, and it’s very brightly colored, and it’s very loud, and it’s fun for a while.

Many people have been on the ride a long time, and they begin to wonder, “Hey, is this real, or is this just a ride?” And other people have remembered, and they come back to us and say, “Hey, don’t worry; don’t be afraid, ever, because this is just a ride.” And we kill those people. “Shut him up! I’ve got a lot invested in this ride, shut him up! Look at my furrows of worry, look at my big bank account, and my family.

This has to be real.” It’s just a ride. But we always kill the good guys who try and tell us that, you ever notice that? And let the demons run amok. But it doesn’t matter, because it’s just a ride.

And we can change it any time we want. It’s only a choice. No effort, no work, no job, no savings of money. Just a simple choice, right now, between fear and love. The eyes of fear want you to put bigger locks on your doors, buy guns, close yourself off. The eyes of love instead see all of us as one.

Here’s what we can do to change the world, right now, to a better ride.

Take all that money we spend on weapons and defenses each year and instead spend it feeding and clothing and educating the poor of the world, which it would pay for many times over, not one human being excluded, and we could explore space, together, both inner and outer, forever, in peace.” – R.I.P Bill Hicks…

Magnum Opus…

Magnum opus or opus magnum, from the Latin meaning “great work”, refers to the largest, and perhaps the best, greatest, most popular, or most renowned achievement of an artist.

Taking a snapshot of history, many figures have produced their magnum opus: Shakespeare has his Hamlet, Da Vinci has his Mona Lisa, Brando has his Godfather and Bon Jovi have their Slippery When Wet.

Recently, I pondered on the phrase magnum opus and whilst I am not an artist, I took time on it to reflect on what (if at all) my magnum opus would be and how it came to be. I’m no writer, no painter, no actor, nor musician, but what I regard as my masterpiece thus far is my children (and my wife takes fifty percent of the credit of course).

Modern life is such a complex thing, adding three children into the mix could herald additional dangers to leading the “perfect life”, but with risk comes great reward as the following will document.


I met “J” when he was just two years old in a chance meeting around the renovated docks of my old home town. Trying to blow away the memories of a Friday night down at the club, the cool and chilly sea breeze coming in off the Mersey seemed to be doing the trick. After walking for a while I bumped into what was to be my future bride with a pushchair in hand, trying to shake off a guy who she had unfortunately swapped numbers with whilst under the influence the previous night.

I was a single person at the time and had been living alone for over a year, and for a serial “relationship-ist” a year was long enough. At twenty seven, one comes to terms with the fact that future partners may or may not have children and once I had passed the quarter century mark that didn’t really concern me (although it may have others).

When our eyes met, there was a something; some metaphysical gravity instantly fused us together and it was not long before we had our first date and although there have been rocky roads in between we are still together seventeen years on, as strong as ever.

To say “J” was a handful at the start was putting it mildly, our first true meeting was on a train for a trip to Newcastle and I’ll always remember the very first words he said to me after settling into our seats for the next four hours. Looking deep into my eyes and with incredible force for a young boy he exclaimed “You’re not my Dad!”. Ouch…


His tantrums were legendary. He was a floor dancer, every time he didn’t get his way he would drop to the floor, kick and scream and run around his own head whilst prostrate, a skill Homer Simpson knows only too well.

In time things began to settle down and mum and him moved in with me, stability in his own home life reflected in his mannerisms and by the time a new addition to the family came along, he was great. He took ownership of the big brother mantle and gave it is all, taking his first steps into being responsible for something and he did it very well.

“J” was very bright and did well at school, going to his mum for reading and me for maths and his progress was solid (especially maths and science). He also started to develop a passion for martial arts and quickly started to progress through the coloured belts in Taekwondo until I had a call from the new boss who asked me if I would like to take up an expat posting in Malaysia for three years. After some serious consideration (family & friends versus opportunity), we decided to take on the challenges South East Asia cared to throw at us and left.

Before we left, his grandma on his father’s side pulled me aside and expressed her deep gratitude to me. Taken aback slightly I asked her why, and she said that the love and support I had shown for “J” in a society which often treats step-children and lesser mortals had made him into the remarkable young man that now stood before us, those words humbling me deeply.

“J” took a little while to settle into his new school, forgetting books and equipment on a regular basis and initially falling behind as change is something he continues to struggle with (as do I; as do we all). Once he had settled in though, he started to deliver and deliver well. The international school he went to was at the time in the top twenty international schools in the world (now ranked second) so the education and opportunities it gave him mixed with travelling to far off and exotic places and continued support offered by his mother and I gave him (in my opinion at least) a solid foundation in life and what can be achieved through drive and positivity.

When our three years were up, we came back to the UK, back to the old house, back to the old Taekwondo School and “J” was accepted into grammar school where he shined and excelled as predicted (acquiring his black belt in record time too). Deciding that college was not his thing, he instead took up an apprenticeship where once again he attained top of the class status and he continues on well today in the workplace, already off the family payroll.


As previously stated, some children can be a handful when they are young and some can be angelic. When “L” was born, he was the later – a polar opposite to “J” (noting the obvious behavioural changes would follow and they did, oh the drama…). He literally slept like a baby; he was charming from the outset, never cried at all, never played up and was a happy baby. It was apparent very early on that not only from a behavioural perspective, personality wise “J” and “L” were also dichotomised. “J” is very structured and academic, whereas “L” is chaotic and creative, and that came out early on in school.

“L” was always performing whether it be in class or on small productions, and some of those performances came home with him too which we quickly got on to and dealt with. Whenever there was an opportunity to get on stage or grab the limelight he was always first to raise his hand. He dealt with the move to Malaysia probably better than all of us put together, settling in to his new class and making friends very easily. He did well academically, but again he shined in the school plays (acquiring the role of Harry Potter in the last performance before we came back to the UK).


Once again “L” settled back into his old school very easily, regaling his old (and new) friends of tales from far off lands and countries most had never heard of. He also took up a place in the local drama club (which he quickly outgrew) and moved instead to the premier drama school on this side of the Mersey and whilst there he went from strength to strength, landing actor of the year two years running (awards from UK film director Mark Heller and UK actor Celyn Jones). Once again, he felt that he needed to move to further stretch himself as a budding thespian so joined Sir Paul McCartney’s Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts where he continues to excel today. He has also appeared on UK television as an extra in Hollyoaks, getting a real buzz and insight into full televisual performance and what goes on behind the scenes.

In school “L” is also well liked and is not far behind “J” now in terms of academic performance, again his focus on working hard and being positive about the things he does will no doubt bring the associated rewards.


If there was ever a time to redress the gender balance in our family, Malaysia was the time. My wife could not have worked even if she had wanted to as she was only given a “Spouses Visa” which meant she was subjected to three years of sun, relaxation and coffee mornings so we had the opportunity to try for the girl she had always wanted and as if by some divine magic (or flip of a Cosmic coin) out popped “K” two years into our expat stint.

“K” was very much like “L” in terms of her baby and infant behaviours; sleeping well and never throwing any tantrums. Much like “L” she took to school very well and again was always first in line to perform, never shying away from the opportunity to stand up and narrate, dance, act or sing (and has since joined her brother at LIPA as it’s “buy one get one half price”).

What makes “K” is her endearing nature to others, be it friend, family or animals. I know I’m biased as all parents are, but in terms of all-round-loveliness she really is a model young citizen of Planet Earth. She has been selected many times already by her peers as School Councillor and instead of asking for gifts last birthday she asked to sponsor an animal (Sumatran Tiger) at the local zoo.


I guess it’s a little early to tell what life will throw at her and what path she will choose, but so far it’s working.

Life is balance. Balance is life.

Having the right balance in life is the most important thing. The Yin-Yang principal holds true with bringing up children too.

It is the balance between nature and nurture. It is finding the happy medium between doing things with the kids and doing things for the kids. When the balance is out of kilter on the “for the kids” front, a lack of independence can very easily lead to what I have coined “barnacle-ism”, creating that invisible rod for your own back by doing too much for the kids so that they don’t have too. Much in the same way, doing too much “with the kids” and not giving them the freedom to develop their own interests and relationships can very easily lead to what I have coined “crutch-ism”, making it difficult to choose their own path without have the parental support to guide them.

Looking at my three children, I think they have the balance in the right proportions at present, which sometimes means a nudge from me or my wife when the scales of justice start clanging heavily in one direction.

I look at my kids passions and they are twofold. Some are shared passions with me (music, film, theatre and some sports) and some are not shared passions (martial arts, amateur dramatics).

As they get older the shared passions we have dissipate somewhat as they find their own way in life and that’s already starting to happen.

Surround yourself with only people who are going to lift you higher

During one of our many weekend trips to the mega-malls of Kuala Lumpur, one day I noticed a huge billboard on the side of the road with a quote from Oprah Winfrey:


At first glance, I was taken aback. OK I understood that Oprah had a pretty horrendous time when she was younger but to only surround yourself with positive people was surely not a reality we all live in as many individuals in our lives have issues and as result, negativity attaches itself to both them and to you by proxy.

That comment lay dormant at the back of my mind and every now and again popped up and my answer was always the same, I simply did not agree. That was until a few years back, when I saw for the first time just exactly the message that Oprah was trying to get across.

When my wife was diagnosed with cancer, like everyone else who is associated with it, your world changes. All of a sudden the happy path of life branches off down a dark and as yet untrodden path and there is little you can do to avoid it. Cancer does not discriminate. Yoga, meditation and reiki cannot help the victims of cancer; only materialism can, by means of synthetics (chemicals) or surgery.

So here we had a situation where negativity was forced upon us, and we were floundering. At that time, both my aunt and uncle were also diagnosed with cancer (albeit more aggressive and terminal in nature) and as a result (being a positive person) I spent as much time with them as I could before the reaper took them, whilst at the same time looking after my own.

Sadly, my own extended family did not offer the same level of support to my wife and I either pre or post-surgery, we were left to deal with everything alone which didn’t sit well with me, but deal with it we did and as this blog has well documented over the years, we nearly never made it. Ultimately this resulted in a “contract termination” with my extended family, but not due to the lack of support during those dark times, but due to the negative influences they had on me and my own.

After rekindling my search for enlightenment, I have looked to alternative sciences for answers, Buddhism and consciousness studies have kept me well entertained and pondering the meaning of life over the last few years now. More recently, I have looked to justify my decision to walk away from the bloodline to see whether it was (and still is) just.

From a parental perspective, I see them wholly as very negative people behind the scenes. The personas they portray to friends and family are polar opposite to what they truly are. I have deconstructed my early years recently and come to the conclusion that their negativity has influenced me. Alcoholism, Atheism, drug use, infidelity, corporate fraud, misogyny, racism and a lack of support and morality are the true causes of negativity during my formative years, all of which were kept very much behind closed doors.

Thankfully, I had the (as yet unaware) foresight and wherewithal to know at the age of eighteen that this constant was grinding me as a person down and as a result I left home. Sadly, my sister was younger than me and suffered the same fate as our parents. It really was a tough decision to run for the hills but something inside me said that it was the only way to break the circle of despair and even today I live with that decision.

Even though times were a little grim for me growing up at times, they were of course not as grim as some other folks I know. Over the years I have truly tried to reconcile things with both parents and sibling but their pattern is ever-concrete.

I know I get accusatory looks and comments from friends and excommunicated family members who judge me as a person for deciding to walk the path alone, and leaving behind the chaos and bloodline responsibility. Not a day goes by where I don’t think of them (or in more recent times unconsciously dream of them on a very regular basis), but what I have to ask myself is do I want my children, my magnum opus to be surrounded by chaos and negativity all because society deems family unit cohesion sacrosanct and unbreakable irrespective of circumstance.

I know the answer to that, as do my children…