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Saturday, 21 December 2013

The Secrets of Santa Claus

On 21 Dec 2013 at 5.11pm we celebrate the winter solstice. It is our darkest night, the night when Father Christmas originally came down the dirty chimney. We could say the story represents an experience that comes down through the spinal cord, through our head, heart and body. It comes down from the world of ideas and lands, stumbling in the dark all ruffled and rumpled, into this present reality. 
If we have been good through the experience, we are given gifts, and if we have not: coal. Coal is the unworked philosopher's stone. My mates in Catalunya, Spain, have the added twist of the danger of receiving a plastic representation of, erm, merda.

The Caganer in Barcelona this year. They also have Cagatios (logs that children bash the shit out of, which is where their presents come from) but often in the ferias (Christmas fairs) you can just buy the plastic excrement for the children's stocking.

The experience of being ruffled up happens to all of us. Life has its ups and downs. The question is - Were we able to keep equanimity during the storms? While going through a torment in Vipassana I wrote:

Even in its strength

The lighthouse

Cannot control the waves.

The lighthouse doesn’t freak out. It stays there, quietly, calmly, persistently, accepting the waves, knowing that nothing is forever. 

While we have been living life, the question Santa wants to know is, ‘have we been good?’

Did we freak out when someone messed us about? Did we collapse in tears because we were premenstrual? Did we rise into road rage at the knob-head who cut in front of us?


Did we listen and try to understand? Did we…erm…fill in gap…instead of collapsing into hormonal imbalanced tears? (A sooty hazy point for me…advice would be appreciated) Were we driving calmly enough to see the crazy driver and gracefully give him the space he and we needed?

In our experiences if we did ‘good’ we get gifts. Not presents, but gifts. Instantly. They are created by Santa’s helpers, good-hearted spirits, dressed like the original Father Christmas in green, who from their workshops in the trees represent the help of Nature. There are a myriad of gifts we can receive, such as compassion and understanding of others, the ability to see things from increasingly different angles, strengthened patience, or even the gift of feeling good about staying calm and being able to do dude-style surfing on hormonal waves. The list of life enriching gifts goes on and on…

And if we didn’t manage, then we tend to feel a bit of a merda, sat moodily in the coal shed of life.

Through the dark times when we manage to keep it together, we are able to unwrap, to uncover, our gifts, dis-covering that we actually always had them in our nature. By having used the gifts of patience, for example, we realise we have patience. Lao-Tzu said:

Treat those who are good with goodness, and also treat those who are not good with goodness. Thus goodness is attained. Be honest to those who are honest, and be also honest to those who are not honest. Thus honesty is attained.

With these gifts recognised, uncovered by ourselves within, the very same gifts enable us to climb a little higher in the tree of life. 

Along with the fairy lights our sparks shine out fueled by moments of being good to ourselves and others, the satisfaction of dealing well in a difficult situation, being aware enough to stay open and loving even when all seems so dark around us, etc.

As we go around life, with each new experience, down the chimney and up the tree, we are given the opportunity to learn to use our gifts with ever more loving kindness. As we strengthen in these roots, we ascend the tree of Life. The sparks of consciousness connect more and more lighting up our path until it is so bright we are nothing but a star! 

The star at the top of the Christmas tree is our higher selves connecting to a consciousness that is greater than our individual selves - which is where Father Christmas, in all his generous nature, flew down from.

Thursday, 28 November 2013

What will you allow into your mind?

When I lived in Argentina we would watch the news daily. It was in 2001, the height of the Cavallo financial crisis. The news got personal. It wasn’t that a politician had been found to be corrupt, a law change or lacy knickers found in the wrong place, it was much more personal. They didn’t say ‘Julia you will not be able to get your money out of the bank tomorrow there is a freeze’ or ‘Julia’s bus was held-up today with men with guns who went round person by person taking their wallets’ or ‘A lady in Julia’s village, Maipu, was killed today by children because she would not give them sweets.’ They didn’t use my name, but they could have. We were all watching, eyes glazed with fear, about what they would say about our worlds, about our lives.

That was how we began to walk with hunched backs, constantly looking over our shoulders. I didn’t like to stop at red lights in my little blue Fiat 500 when other cars weren’t around: it was just dangerous. My boss’s son had been shot like that, and it was only the fact he jammed on the gas knocking the barrel of the gun from his temples to his leg that he wasn't killed. Our very own road-side chicken stall, Angelitos Parripollos, was held up twice, while we, the proud owners were on holiday. The first time Pollo, my cunado, in shock, just handed over all our hard earned cash, the second time, feeling indignant, he didn’t and el suegro (the father) got shot in a lung and my brother-in-law in the leg. By sheer miracle the suegro’s workplace, a bodega that he had been working for for 40 years, had paid his social security that month (they hadn’t paid any wages for about 5 months) and he was able to be admitted into a hospital. If not?

This was life. It was scary. It was impossible not to be aware of what was going on, you could feel it. Watching the news only made it worse: I started to become paralyzed and in that shut down state couldn’t bear the thought of leaving my own house.

So I made a decision to stop watching the news, and if it happened it happened. But when it didn’t happen (which in my case was never): it didn’t happen. I decided I could NOT stop using the bus to get into Mendoza just out of fear. We had to continue to live, to work, to meet friends. I mean, if it’s going to happen then it’s going to happen, independently to if you have read the news or not. But while the horrible, terrifying things weren’t going on, why live in terror as if it were?

I had a similar experience in Nepal in 2004. There was a Maoist uprising, and often we couldn’t teach in the orphanage’s school. We were forced to ‘strike’. If they found you teaching they would burn down the school. We all heard, as the news spread from village to village, that there were riots outside the University. This went on for months. Meanwhile we had to continue to live, to eat, to play, to teach the children how to draw.

One day I had to go into Katmandu. I wanted to buy games for the children, I was starting up play time, something the orphans had never heard of. Trundling back to the bus, I took the direct route back by the University. And as per the grapevine, there were students out there burning tires and making black smoke, and police men at the end of the road trying to look important, but actually looking a bit bored, while students in the university threw toilet paper out of the window making waterfalls of white paper stream through the black smoke. They had also thrown nails down on the road so that cars would not be able to circulate. To me it all seemed rather pathetic to be honest, a sort of crazy bonfire night, though it was a street I really wouldn’t want to walk down.

I got home to the village and visited my friend who happened to have the television on. I saw footage of the riots in Katmandu, they had capture that fear of being too close to death and my mind said ‘Ohh I wouldn’t want to be there, that looks so dangerous!!’ until with a jolt I realised that I HAD been there, only an hour before, and that it was nothing like they were reporting. It wasn’t safe as houses, but it wasn’t the war zone they were capturing. I wondered what angle they had used. How they had managed to ramp it up so much?

So I realised that the media’s direct effect on me caused either unnecessary fear, or escalated my fears into immobility. It seems to me that the real danger of fear exists more than in the mind. I mean, last year many, many tourists (millions) didn’t come to Greece because the media showed it to be so dangerous. I walked through Sygmata Square in Athens and thought it was exciting. It was just like the week before when I had passed through La Plaza Catalunya, in Barcelona: tents, and camp stoves and hippies all smoking joints and lots and lots of people getting excited, thinking they were making history. Knowing they were making news. And then once in a while some uncover cop would come along, be violent and create a problem to stir everything up, so the media could put the wrong slant on it all. Again.

It started to get really ridiculous thinking about the ‘danger’ reported in the news while swimming in the beautiful clear azure seas, still and peaceful, and wandering back to my little sweet house in the lazy sun, past Micro Café to say hi to friends who were contentedly having a little drink as the news continued to say how dangerous Greece was, even away from that one square in Athens. The worst that could have happened is that you could trip over a bougainvillea bush.

Ohh the news! The news! Telling me how to look at the world around me! Why listen? I don't need messages that say I am impotent to change the world, even my own world. I don't need messages based on fear, impossible situations and no solutions warping my views of myself and the world into weakness and uselessness. I refuse.

Why allow ourselves to be disconnected from the peacefulness of natural reality, making us forget the quantity of love that flows through the world and of communities all over the planet making a difference. I will not allow the news to make me think that I am not powerful within myself.

But when my own mind does it to me, for some absurd reason, I believe every word.

Me and my mind. Not listening any longer!

PS A lot of people responded to this post in private messages as if I were going through a 'dark night' but the idea came to me while on a 10-day Vipassana...it is an idea of liberation! A way out of the monkey mind. I know I have one, and I'm pretty sure everyone else who hasn't worked extensively on their inner mind does too. Opera's such as Wagner's Parzival and Verdi's Magic Flute attest to the feminine character sleeping or under the harsh rule of a cruel tyrant (ego impurities of the mind), Sleeping Beauty awakens from her curse, Snow White gets out of the woods (the unconscious) with the help of her 7 little worker dwarfs, Psyche on her journey separates the grain from the chaff with the help of ants...

I feel as if facing the monkey mind as a monkey mind is an awakening, knowing that the mind sends these messages and being able to stand firm enough to be able to see them for what they are: propaganda not based on reality. It is liberating (to me at least) to think we can begin to recognise what is and what is not real.

Monday, 4 November 2013

Being Oneself in a Relationship

We met while I was having an English cuppa in front of my Greek white-washed flat on a tiny cobbled street too narrow almost for bicycles. Bourganvilla pink and purples brushed against the white walls that wedged my house besides a little orthodox chapel where I was sat under the orange tree. He was a tourist, and I was not into having relationships. End of story. I was out of the market. The last one had burnt me so deeply that I had decided that I could not be me AND be in a relationship: I needed space and time to develop myself, and stop being so utterly and completely lost.

Later by email (yes I admit we swapped contact details) he invited me for a drink which seemed safe enough because I thought he was gay. He also seemed to be one of those interesting people who you wouldn’t want to miss, especially when living in a small society where the social offer is not exactly continually dazzling. This guy seemed to have intricate ideas and an open mind, and mentioned being a dancer, but even so last minute I tried to get out of it, but my mobile wouldn’t send a text to his American cell phone.

He clinched it later though, after the drink when we wandered up to the church on the top of Paroikia. Overlooking the expansive Aegean horizon of the dark, moonlit sea, and I found myself in his arms, being twirled through the air, and all I could see was a palm tree coming in and out of my vision as I circled, flying almost weightlessly in the air. If a man can lift this sturdy lass, he’s worth looking into. 

The Church where we danced that night.

In the following days we went swimming in the sea with a full moon lighting our return along the cliffs, had a secret breakfast where all my friends spotted me, and walked hand in hand down the little Greek streets, laughing because once again he had thrown me over his back as if it were completely normal and nothing had happened at all. The big turn on was discovering he was actually as intelligent as he seemed.

And so those three heady days spent together turned into a risk: after a month of email addiction we wondered about a three month ticket for me to go stay with him. I looked at the photos of his picturesque house in the first range of the Rocky Mountains, a cycle ride from Boulder, Colorado, and did a ping pong game of yes-no for about two weeks.

It turned out to be a good bet: I learnt ‘merican words and ways, we fell in love more, got on well, argued well together. During the end of my stay his work asked him to go to a world-wide conference. It is held at a different location around the world, and this time was in Nottingham, an hour and a half from my family home, a week after I returned. Surely this was meant to be? We both saw it written in the stars in Arial Black font.

But no.

Like attracts like. He also seems to think he cannot be in a relationship and be himself.


So, instead of going for the dramatic surges of hormonal addiction to inboxes, we decided to be strong and separate: to walk our own paths. Sensible perhaps. We both sighed with relief, it had all been starting to get quite intense. It was beginning to be real.

And so I sit, hours and hours in the Vipassana center as a long term server and ponder all this, when I should in fact be not pondering or thinking at all but just quietly, equanimously, observing sensations arising and passing away.

Out of the meditation sessions, as a dhamma worker we can talk (imagine the disasters in the kitchen if not) and so as a children’s course ended I chatted with a woman who told me ‘It’s all about loving yourself.’ She said ‘Go travel alone, live alone, find a friend in yourself.’

Hmmm. Have done. Didn’t make the grade. I mean how much travelling alone must one do?

She says ‘Ohh but did you do it from love of self, or from lack? Running towards or running away?’


Thoughts flash of travelling alone and yearning for contact, for an arm to stroke, to feel someone’s hands on my lower back walking down a street.

‘Maybe you need to learn to live alone?’

I think of the isolation in the other house I lived in on the Greek hillside, hours playing the trumpet, painting, meditating, and doing all sorts of stuff that I like, thinking how much better it would be with someone else. 

She suggests baths, with Chardonnay and candles.

Yes, that would be nice.

But still it doesn’t get down to the bottom of it for me. Everyone has their own root causes, and sitting so many hours with myself, in that hall, is still not bringing out the love. Everything but. I’m finding that I am addicted to yearning for a man. I find I yearn for him more when I feel insecure. So I’m yearning for security. I yearn for him when I am tired. So I’m yearning energy. I yearn for him to tell me that I am funny, and bright and that I am worth keeping alive.

It’s not really a positive point of view.

‘Uff,’ I say ‘why is it so difficult?’

We look into each other’s eyes, sensing we have gone through the same: beating up on ourselves for no apparent reason.

‘I would never to talk to a friend like I talked to myself,’ she admits.

‘I know,’ I collude. I’ve thought that many times before.

‘But now, I’m pleased to say, I hardly beat myself up at all. I am loving to myself, I am soft, and as I become softer, the outer world does too.’

I realise in that wide, deep, chasm of comparison, that I have barriers to that inner calm, to that inner peace, where the mind is at rest.

‘I think I’m addicted to yearning for men,’ I admit for the first time out loud, as much to myself as to her. I shrink back wondering how she will react.

‘Who isn’t?’

I feel the relief flood through my pores.

Over these meditation days I have realised that I’m addicted to the fantasy of relationships, to craving for a man, as if ‘the one’ were the key to my everlasting fairytale happiness, where no longer will I need to sit through the agony of facing myself and my shadow: a magic cure for all.

I mean actually when you think about it, it is so embarrassing infantile, that you would only really want to admit it to a stranger at the bus stop.

‘You can spend half a meditation session dreaming about a man,’ she says.

I look at her alarmed, only thirty minutes? She senses it and amends, ‘I guess we can spend half our lives wasting away with all that craving.’

And so, the wonderful woman with the calm, deep still eyes, continues. ‘When you can love yourself, you begin to really get to know yourself, who you are, what you are, and only then can you set healthy limits.’ She pauses as if laughing inside to herself ‘I thought that I couldn’t be myself, and, be in a committed relationship at the same time. I travelled the world alone, I wrote a book, I did research in the United States alone…’

I look at her, wondering if she is going to add anything new.

With a blast to my innerds she says, ‘That idea of not being able to be in a relationship and be yourself, I realised, was just more bashing up on myself, more self abuse.’

Wow, what a turnaround!…Maybe it’s not always such a brave thing to march on alone with the banner of ‘self searcher’. Could it be just be another subtle way in which we can abuse ourselves, telling ourselves that we can’t be in a nourishing relationship? Perhaps being nourished in a relationship is actually what we need to allow ourselves? 

‘Because, actually,’ she continues ‘if you love yourself you can, you really can, maintain that relationship with yourself, while setting healthy limits and creating space for your own growth while in a relationship with someone else too.’

I checked. This seemed too good to be true, ‘Are you in a relationship now?’ 

‘I’m going into the beginning of a relationship.’


‘But of course setting boundaries might sometimes mean leaving a relationship with another if it is not as nourishing as being by yourself.’

I nod, suddenly eager to move onwards into the bubble bath, not alone but by myself.

Post Script

So of course I didn’t go into a bubble bath, there are no baths in a meditation center, instead I went into a ten-day silent course. In between one of the breaks I walked into the fields and stood there, it had gone dark and the stars were shining in that way where you wonder how so many fit in and yet still maintain the deep dark velvet space around them. 

I was alone. And I found myself wanting to get to the end the course so that I could tell someone what I had done so they could say ‘Well done! I’m so proud of you!’ when I realised there is no-one waiting for me at the finishing line. It was then that I realised that actually here, deep inside this meditative place, I could say it to myself.

‘I’m proud of you,’ I said to myself, and suddenly I realised that actually I really am.

It is not easy to do ten and a half hours of meditation each day, going into the depths, facing myself and I do it patiently and persistently, without complaining, waking up everyday at 4.15am even though I really don’t want to. I put in all my efforts, even when I’m exhausted. I keep chipping away into deeper concentration, observing, feeling sensations. It is not easy and yet I do it. 

I really am proud of myself. Really. 

And suddenly I don’t need anyone to tell it to me.

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

A Thorny Issue

I'm feeling a little tipsy, for I have been for a drink with a girl friend. It is great to able to be wonderfully honest. You know those moments when you are able to just admit to being human? Able to take off the cloak of wondering if you are good enough, if you will be accepted, and simply say ‘This is how I feel: what’ya think?’

So this was one of the (many) issues:

I have discovered recently that I do not express my needs, and therefore they are not met. Let me be totally candid about it: it is not his fault. It is the other person’s fault in the relationship, who would be, actually, and quite exactly, me.

“But…..” I say extending the u of my northern accent and stretching my neck to look into the skies, while multitasking with a deep breath to be able to say many words in a torrent, “if you tell a man to buy you a box of chocolates and he does, is it the same?”

The issue has actually come up from my friend’s story, about her life. That’s the beauty of these girl chats, you can never really tell who you are talking about…so I launch into advice mustering up my bestest woman-of-the-world wisdom wondering if I’m talking to my friend or myself, or both?

“My mum and I have this silly tendency to hide within our psychic shells. Then if a man comes along and ‘finds’ us, then we have ‘proof’ of his love.”

“Ohh I think lots of women do that, don’t they?”

“Yes, but we aren’t 7 years old any longer. Hide and seek went out long ago as a regular pastime for me.”

“So you think we have to tell of our needs?”

“Well…” I say breathing in deeply again with the sheer joy of communicating “I’ll use an example, because you’ll be able to see that I’m talking parallel - being a woman.”

We laugh voraciously with the idea that we can talk in many-tongued similes and chat about several things at once, without having to actually ever finish anything we are saying. But this time we don’t go off on a tangent. What we both know right now is that have already discussed that you cannot ‘tell’ the man what you want by expressing your need in parallels or analogies, they don’t hear. They think you are actually talking about a bike.

I look around for an object as an example, “Take a bike,” I say, she nods, “lets say I really want one. So I don’t say anything, I hide myself and my need inside, and then if someone, by sheer stroke of a miracle gives me a bike, it is ‘evidence’ that he is THE ONE.”

“But,” she says mimicking my accent “the chances are that you will never get one.”

“That’s right. So we have to say “I would like a bike.” And then he goes off dutifully and buys you a bike. Does that mean that he loves you?”

We both ponder the situation, it is a bit sticky.

“Well, yes, to a degree. He wants everything to be good for you.”

“I guess. But it is all rather perfunctory don’t you think?”

And then I get this flash of brilliancy and pretend that I have known it all along, “The deal is, that we don’t actually want the ‘bike’, what we want is to be recognised within.”

“Ah ha!” says my friend “Wow, yeah, wooo.”

“I just made that up.”

“Sounds right to me.”

And so, given this encouragement I feel the permission to launch into a myth with total freedom to ad-lib to my heart's content.

Sleeping Beauty is dealt her destiny by the fairies who say she will be fair and gentle and good and intelligent and great at cooking and creative and a wonderful friend and intrepid traveller, until the bitch fairy says ‘She’ll die on a prick.’

Everyone gasps, there is no way out. Or so it would seem, until the littlest fairy, who everyone seems to have forgotten about, pipes up, ‘My wish is that she doesn’t die but falls asleep.’

So the court, the family, keep all pricks away from their precious little baby. All men are vetted and none are allowed in through the back door. But as the story would have it, she is in some dark dusty old place and finds a prick and it is a really nasty situation (each and every one of us has a story where we were hurt to some degree, we are talking about any kind of abuse from any kind of person). Blood falls to the floor and she falls asleep. Of course she doesn’t fall asleep really, that would be silly, but part of her, the part that has been damaged, becomes closed off, that bit falls asleep. In its moment it is a good defense mechanism…but if it goes on too long without resolution the area becomes unconscious.

The whole court falls asleep. The family refuses to talk about it, the psychic energy gets frozen, nothing is flowing. Everyone is trapped in the horrible situation and no-one is prepared to talk about it, afraid to open the can of worms. 

Thorns start to grow outside the castle into a veritable forest. She becomes so sensitive to anyone approaching the area of damage that she has thorny words to say. She becomes adept at putting people off, leading them astray, creating smoke screens: anything to keep people at a distance.

Until, that is, there is a man, within her or without, who with his sword of understanding, can swipe through the thorns and get to the other side. He gets in through her defense mechanisms, and once inside, (if he isn’t a dick so that she throws him out and puts up 24/7 surveillance  mines, barbed wire and mantraps just for measure), if this guy who got through her thorns by understanding her is also actually loving…wooowww that can be so, so, so healing. The prince kisses the princess with a good dose of love, and she awakens. She begins to live a full life again.

And, unless I am the only one, I think many of us women are operating on this fairy tale. 

Fairy tales are actually, though it make shock, pre-Disney. Sleeping Beauty was first published 1697, and who knows how many times it was told before then. There is a reason why it keeps going and why people like telling it, passing it from generation to generation: it has psychic content that somehow comforts us.

But can we keep living like that?

Can we keep wanting men to come and recognise us, to fill in our gaps. Or has it got the point, where we, god-damn-it, have to find the prince within, and do it for ourselves?

One of the ways we can become our own prince is to speak out our needs, instead of expecting a guy who we’ve met for 3 days to magically know what we want. We can wake ourselves up out of own unconscious state, by giving up the fantasies and deciding what we need for ourselves.

Last night, in despair, I practiced it. I was feeling ignored and unloved and wondered if everything was going wrong between me and my love-bird. Weeks ago he had told me to state my needs, but I had found myself so unpracticed in actually understanding my needs that I was unable to until it was too late, like weeks too late…until last night, sat on a terrace restaurant, both of us in silence after me declaring my hurt emotions, I suddenly realised I needed reassurance. Through the silence I launched my words “I really need reassurance. Like right now. It’s a state of emergency.” The silence melted like butter under the sun, and after his wonderful words, which the thorny silence was preventing, we ended up snogging in front of our king prawns.

Back with the conversation today with my girlfriend, she says “You see this guy, the one I went on three dates with and who hasn’t even tried to kiss me yet…?” I nod in a recognising fashion, “all I want for him to do is to claim me. To come up to me as a Man and say something like “I want you. I desire you,” without me having to feed him his lines. I want to feel myself as an attractive woman. I want to feel recognised that I have opened the door to him and my body and that at least he sees me, there in my psychic negligee, panting slightly. I’m not even sure if I want sex with him, but…I just want the situation recognised….or,” she says in a grave tone “are we just friends?”

We both know that this cannot, surely be the case. She asks even though we both know he is calling every day and taking her out for meals. Which friends do not do. Friends meet on the park benches, cos it’s cheaper.

“Tell him what you want maybe. Tell him how you feel. Ask him how he feels.”

“He would freak out!”

“Do you want him?”

“I don’t know.”

My wise woman comes to the surface again, probably talking to myself more than to my friend “You want him to make the decision, you want him to be the instigator. You want him to be “the man”. But maybe before asking him if he wants a relationship with you, you should decide if you want a relationship with him?”

She darts a murderous look at me, as if pained that a friend could be so cruel, “Yes,” she says “yes, maybe you are right.”

The thing is that if we don’t become our own princes we’ll keep asking men to validate us, to heal our pains that manifest in unworthiness, in needing constant confirmation of deserving to exist, or in feeling unloveable etc. We could be putting ourselves in a position where we aren’t actually seeing the man as he is, but a potential magical prince who is going to make us feel good about being ourselves and live happily ever after. If we ask him, stating our needs, to fight through our complicated defense mechanisms and tell us that he wants us, that he desires us, that he is willing to run barefoot to the end of the world for us just because we want a banana straight from the jungle, once he actually does it, (and it is really no mean feat), if we have not done our homework beforehand, we might just find out, once he is within our inner sanctum, on the other side of the thorns, once he has validated us and calmed our fears, that he is a complete knob.

If we only ask him because we want to feel accepted and to be seen by someone, we’d better be ready for a surprise once he gets manly. He might not be the prince we were waiting for.

If we can validate ourselves, while looking at the man, as a man, and decide for ourselves if we would REALLY like to have a relationship with this guy using our logic swords of our animus princes within, then there is a good chance, while we are dreaming and throwing the I Ching every second day to find out if he actually likes us, that he is actually a decent catch. Then it really is worth stating your needs risking rejection and recognition (that we are also now providing wholesale to ourselves) and asking him to get his electrical chainsaw out to cut through our thorny fears of intimacy.

So my girl friend and I, two girls talking with beers between us, in a balmy afternoon sun, didn’t exactly talk in a direct logical fashion, but instead came to conflicting conclusions quite happily:

The other can never fill the void that is in us. No one can but our own selves. That’s it. We may all be addicted to oxytocin, the ‘love hormone’ that regulates orgasms, social recognition, pair bonding and anxiety…we may all be addicted to the bliss of being intimate with someone…but at the end of the day we have to deal with our own relationship to ourselves. For as much oxytocin that you create together, he is not going to sort you out, fill your (psychic) hole and turn you into the pretty woman princess you know you can be: beautiful, sexy, daring, adventurous and successful in ways that people never thought possible. We have to do that ourselves.

“But,” says my friend “we do need relationships to be able to grow personally.”

And then we had to leave. Of course we were twenty minutes late, and had to go to the toilet, and continued talking rapid fire through the cubicles despite the obvious noise interference. Waterfalls aside, as we got outside and as we were unlocking our bikes I said “I feel a bit high.”

“You don’t get oxytocin just from men you know! You get it from doing what you love.”

Which is maybe the actual answer. Just to make life into what you love. Because no one else is going to do it for you.