Today was one of those days where you hear something in the morning and you’re still thinking about it at bed time, because it sticks in your head. And not because it’s a nice thought, but because it’s unpleasant. It’s something that angers or terrifies you. Or both.
I know there’s a taboo around taking your phone into the gym with you, but when you’re as busy as I am, you learn to do bits of work between sets.
I’d completed my third set of squats when I saw I’d received a message from someone who was going to attend a talk I was giving.
He couldn’t make it.
Instant disappointment; I hate when people pull out of things.
His reason, as I continued to read: his daughter who is in Great Ormand Street Hospital has been diagnosed with cancer.
Not his daughter, in fact, but his “Little girl”. His words.
My stomach turned. My own daughter’s – my own little girl’s – face flashed into my mind. I replied straight away, knowing that I could never say enough but expressing what I could from my heart in the moment.
Then I put the phone down, and as is typical with many men, even self-working ones, my heart closed to stop me feeling all the feelings swelling inside me. I got under the bar to bang out another set of 10 squats, but between reps finding myself shaking my head as a stood there with the iron sitting on my shoulders. As if I could shake the image from my mind of my little girl lying in a hospital bed with tubes coming out of her nose as my mum had.
And so today I’ve had thoughts of two people – this man, and my little girl.
His issues are getting put on the back burner, he said, while he deals with this. His words.
By issues, I presume – having never actually met this man in person – are wanting to become a stronger man. Stronger in his relationships and in himself. Which is why he joined my group and signed up for my talk initially.
But whether he realizes is or not, he is dealing with his issues. He is strengthening himself as a man. He is BEING a man. He is serving. He is choosing to put someone else first.
Must we look after ourselves? Of course. But why are we to become strong? So we can be strong all by ourselves and only for ourselves?
We get stronger as men so we can frikkin serve. Like warriors. The meaning of the word Samurai – a very important word for me – means ‘one who serves’.
And that’s what this man is doing. Because he’s loving and giving like a warrior.
My friend who shall remain nameless…
This is your battle. You will encounter many enemies in this battle; a multiple-opponent fight. And they will come in the form of your heart wanting to close, wanting to cut away, being afraid to feel everything you are feeling, the fear of being overwhelmed, numbing.
They will attack from every angle. They will attack with stealth and go to work on you without you even noticing.
Your mission, that you absolutely MUST succeed in, is keeping that heart wide open and feeling all that is pulsating in there. All the fear, all the anger, all the love, all the commitment, all the sadness, all the dedication.
Because when you push a painful emotion down, it goes down to the basement to do squats. And it gets really fucking strong then comes back upstairs to start a fight with you when you least expect it.
Breathe into your heart daily. Hourly. Put your hands on your heart, feel its beat, and breathe INTO your heart. And whatever feelings come, be with them. And when with your little girl, when with anybody at this time, don’t be afraid to feel, and don’t put on a ‘brave face’. They can see through it anyway.
When they look into your eyes, let them see straight into your heart. When they hear your voice, let them hear your heart.
In battle, the warrior gives all. He puts his issues on the back burner, my friend. He gives every ounce of himself, in the name of those he serves.
Just like you.
My Little Girl…
I feel ashamed at how today I feel so powerfully grateful for being blessed with such a being. This tiny little human teddy bear who radiates so brightly. Ashamed because I don’t feel this strongly every day. Embarrassed that I feel so strongly only in the face of imagined loss. I feel guilt at wanting now to tell her…
You are beautiful. You are beauty itself, from the moment you were born, perfect like the most delicate but powerfully pretty Cherry Blossom.
How your tiny self commands such power over my sometimes grumpy heart. You, in your unbelievable cuteness with your little voice and big round eyes, are at once a force of nature.
You embody the pure feminine that is the flow of life itself.
How you wind your brother up and then melt him into a ball of love is amazing.
How you fearlessly express your heart, you have so much to teach me. I am so proud of you.
You are my tiny, precious thing that I protect with all my might and will do until the day I die.
Thank you for being alive. Thank you for being born and gracing my life.
When the kids come to stay with Raquel and I at the weekend, I will do as I have urged this man to do. Let me join you my friend, in fearlessly opening my heart and giving them all I’ve got.
And so now my thoughts are actually on three people today.
While writing this, I’ve received a text. From my big sister who lives in America. She’s told me and my other sister that she’s thinking of us today more than usual. I wondered why but then looked at the date.
23rd of February.
Whether it’s my number dyslexia, being rubbish with dates or unconscious numbing, I don’t know. But I forget this date every year until I get that text.
Today is the day my mum died exactly 10 years ago.