In this period of freedom and confusion I spent time with a girl who was a great deal younger than me. It was an emotional and spiritual relationship, nothing more. I needed to spend time with someone who understood. We talked and talked and looked for ways to grow our spiritual relationship with the world, the world that appeared to reject us.
In looking at how to deepen my spirituality I explored how to make it real, how to make it public. This came from a realisation that my life was divided up and that each section was hidden from the others by impenetrable walls.
She started to put together some small events for friends to help them realise truths about themselves. I helped her put these into action. It was a way of looking at myself and clearing out all the intellectual and emotional rubbish that had collected inside my head. In the first Freedom Workshop we walked up Windsor Great Park, near London, to collect our thoughts on where our life was, before gathering at the high point and talking about it.
It was a long slow walk up the hill. We walked separately and in silence. The idea was to look around, seeing what clues were presented to us, and to look inside to see what was going on there. We also had a series of questions to answer for ourselves. It was a long slow walk.
I was immediately taken by the image of the few of us walking separately, leading separate lives and having separate thoughts together. This became a metaphor for my life, for how I was conducting my life. I had used it to my advantage but now it felt like a hindrance to my desire to move forward with more authenticity. I was a collection of separate persons each with his own aims and desires. No wonder I was confused about the way ahead, no wonder I did not know myself.
On the walk I decided to change this and in the discussion afterwards I committed to opening up my life for all to see and experience. This would challenge me in my different relationships—personal, business, intellectual—but it also would integrate me into a whole person, at least that was my thinking.
How to do this? It was easy to talk about the concept but less easy to put it into action. I started by writing, and publishing, a letter to friends and family. In it I set out where I was and where I wanted to go. It was a comprehensive document that I finished with Graham Phoenix: Lighting Designer, Leader, Healer and Mentor. These areas of my life were no longer separate.
The letter started,
This is an epistle of love to all my friends and family. I am writing it because I am going through significant changes in my life and many of you do not know what they are or understand them. I am, to some extent, living different lives with different people. This causes me pain and prevents me living the authentic life I am creating for myself. This epistle of love is not a confession but a revelation of who I really am. I am writing it because I want to be clear about myself, what I feel and what I stand for. This will lead to conversations about life and how we can all work together to improve it and create a better world to live in.
In opening up the different areas of my life to everyone I was hoping to start conversations that might draw some people into areas of my life that they were not involved in. Although this was only partly successful, it did free me up to talk about what was important to me, no matter what role I was playing at the the time. The idea was to replace the role with me. I have touched on this earlier in talking about combining my ideas of outer and inner light and speaking to lighting designers about their spiritual approach to lighting.
I did receive some negative comments from people who could see any further than the way they led their lives. That was alright, it left them to consider, or not, what their life was about.
I have been getting to know my potential. I realise that it is enormous and that it is not only my duty to realise it but also my desire to realise it more than anything else. Achieving my potential means many changes in my life that have happened, are happening and will continue to happen. These changes happen from a place of love but at times will involve pain for myself and for others.
This letter is a way of acknowledging that pain and explaining its source and necessity. I do not apologise for it but seek to own it. Many of you, I hope, will support what I am doing and some of you, inevitably, will be concerned. All I can say is trust me I have never been in a better place in my life.
I then proceeded to talk about what was happening in my personal life, to lay bare where I was in ending my marriage. I talked about the importance of lighting design to me, and how this empowered me. The I went on to say,
Its time I was comfortable with myself. That comfort comes from ceasing to feel separate from the world and starting to feel part of creation and part of the Universal Consciousness or Spirit that is both the origin and end of all our lives. I believe that we come into this world to fulfil a purpose and that once we fulfil it we leave again. I have felt a degree of restlessness all my life as I sought to understand what it was about. During its course I came to various conclusions but never felt convinced they were ‘the answer’.
I touched on some of them at the beginning; family, marriage and work. But like Santiago, the boy in Paulo Coelho’s book ‘The Alchemist’, I have been on a long journey only to come back to the start, to realise that the purpose was within me all along. I sought an external influence, an answer in something outside – it was inside, learning and growing and glowing. I realise that other people I have met in life have seen this in me while I have not. Now I see it inside me and I see that I have to use and develop it for myself and for others.
This was when I publicly embraced the core idea behind this book, the core idea I outlined at the very beginning. I was back at the beginning but this time with a sense of ease and a knowledge that life was moving forward. Maybe to an unknown destination, but moving forward.
I talked about how I had reached this position and went on,
How has this changed my life? The simple answer is completely, the more honest answer is I don’t know yet. Despite the many years I have spent seeking the truth I am only at the beginning of my journey. In taking this journey I am re-assessing everything in my life as well as how I perceive it. Nothing is sacred any more except love and honesty. It is round these values that I am seeking to base my future. Love is the only basis for a healthy, balanced life.
Love is the counter-balance to the ego which causes so much pain and strife. Certainly in my life ego has been such a destructive force. It is not that there is anything inherently wrong with the ego, after all it’s what protects us, its just that un-checked it causes us to lose all sense of balance or proportion. So in pursuing the values of love and honesty I realise that a proper sense of balance is the key. Balance in our physical, mental, emotional and spiritual lives, and balance between the four.
Then I finished with what the implications might be for people involved in my life.
Publishing this was scary for me. I had no idea what the effect would be on my life and how people would react to it. The answer I got was that I did not care. It was my life and as long as I did no harm to others I could live as I wanted to.
I proceeded to seek a public way of showing my commitment to my spiritual growth, a way that would ensure that I had conversations with people about what was happening for me. I sought out ways that others had made a visible commitment to a change in their lives. Interestingly I have recently fully incorporated this into my life by adopting a new, spiritual name.
I wanted to do something that was obvious and physical, an act that I could not avoid. I saw that my beard was part of my physical personality, it was something I had had since the age of 18. So I decided to shave off all my hair—my hair, my beard, my eyebrows. This was a common way of indicating a spiritual change, one that I relished.
The effect was most powerful on myself. I would look in the mirror and be faced with a person I did not recognise. This forced me to look at myself anew and re-evaluate who I was. I did not keep this, I ceased to be interested in the baldness as a permanent reminder, but it was a sufficient shock to kick me into my new life.
I was not where I wanted to go yet, but I was back at the beginning and I was living a more authentic life.
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—Photo Credit: Flickr/michellehurwitz