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Within be fed, without be rich no more: So shalt thou feed on death, that feeds on men, And death once dead, there's no more dying then.                                     William Shakespeare, Sonnet 146 We are so conditioned to think of death as the surrender of the flesh to the Grim Reaper that we don’t realize that death also happens to us even when we are still alive. During our formative years we learn things that shape us, for better or for worse. We become conditioned. Often that conditioning is not healthy. It may be made up of negative patterns that our parents learned, and that they pass on to us. It may be made up of beliefs that we form because we do not have a...

Recently I was at a gathering where people were discussing Christmas, and the difficult feelings that are often associated with it. It seems like that time of year has the ability to highlight so many hurts in our lives, and it takes a lot of strength not to spiral out of control emotionally. What struck me as I listened was how many of us struggle to get our needs met by people who aren't willing or able to meet them. Sometimes this can mean our relationship with our spouse. Sometimes with our families of origin. Sometimes with friends, or people we are in love with. We keep hoping, even against hope, that those things we so desperately need - love, attention, caring, whatever...

Happy 2013 everyone! So the world did not come to an end [although apparently there is still a chance for the apocalypse], and now a whole year of possibilities stretches before us, blank as an unpainted canvas. It feels like a new beginning, even though the whole construct of time is just that - a construct. Minutes, hours, days, years ...

A somewhat unexpected and unconventional Christmas story has captivated the minds and hearts of the Icelanders this year. Just over a week ago, a prisoner escaped from Litla-hraun, this country's only maximum-security prison [although the "maximum" part is rather open to interpretation, as the convict escaped by crawling under the fence]. Obviously a major search was launched, but after seven consecutive days of searching, there was still no sign of the escapee. The prisoner in question was in for attempted manslaughter, as he had tried to kill a woman. During the investigation, it transpired that he had got in touch with her and threatened to finish the job, so to speak, so obviously his escape was taken very seriously [a couple of...

Christmas. Season of cheer and goodwill. The time when we are all supposed to love one another, to cherish one another, and to make each other feel special. That message comes at us from all directions - movies, TV commercials, adverts, songs. Happy families, loving couples, smiling people ...

The other day I was listening to a podcast [again] - this time Outlook from the BBC. They were interviewing a woman whom they billed as "one of American's most respected mental health professionals" - a Dr. Marsha Linehan, who has created a treatment program for severely suicidal patients, and who just recently came out of the closet, so to speak, to reveal her own history of mental illness. It so happened that, just as I was listening to this, I was mentally composing the last post in my head, and so much of Dr. Linehan's story resonated with me. Thankfully, my battle with mental illness was quite not as severe as hers - I was not schizophrenic, I did not...

Recently, while listening to The Moth [one of my absolute favourite podcasts], I heard the storyteller say this: The emotional dimension is the least interesting part of the human experience.  I had to go back and listen again to make sure I had heard correctly, because this just boggles my mind. How can anyone NOT be interested in the emotional dimension of human experience? To me, the emotional dimension is the MOST interesting part of human experience. Exploring the emotional dimension has been for me like exploring a landscape filled with thrilling revelations and experiences, beauty, truth, joy, exaltation, intense pain and the innumerable other nuances that constitute being human. The narrator in that Moth story was a scientist, and in listening it was brought...

Sometimes I look at people, and I think: Somewhere along the line, that person stagnated. Their spirit congealed. Do you know what I mean? It doesn't entirely have to do with age, either. A person can be 18 and seem 38 in their demeanor and manner and way of speaking. And even when they're 68 they still seem 38 because they just kind of stagnated there. I'm not speaking of people who are young in spirit, or who "have no age" because they are timeless. That is an entirely different thing. No - this congealing is never good. It's heavy, cumbersome, and somewhere, deep down, it is insincere. I notice it a lot with politicians. And public officials. "There are two kinds of people," she...

Lately I've been fascinated by the way we perform different roles in our lives. Sometimes we cast ourselves in roles, sometimes they're thrust upon us, and sometimes other people cast us in roles that we have no idea we're in. Or we suddenly find that we're in a role conceived by somebody else, and other people are getting all mad because we're not playing our part properly. Roles are a funny thing. Sometimes they work fine for a while, and then all of a sudden you realize that you've outgrown a role, but the play is still going on. Only you're having increasing trouble being genuine about it. You start to get irritated and cynical, and feel like you're wearing something...