One afternoon, my three work colleagues and I were taking a break at a café near our office.
My colleague Mary asked our colleague John about a course he’d recently completed that, among other things, had taught him how to meditate.
For the next half-hour or so, John told us about the course and how it had improved his life.
Learning Transcendental Meditation (TM) had been an important part of the course, and it was continuing to provide great benefit to John, but it was only one part of it.
I was very interested in what John told us.
First, I had long known of meditation, but not much about it, and John was the first person I’d known who practised it.
Second, I had also long known of self-development and self-improvement courses, but again John was the first person I’d known who’d ever completed one.
Finally, apart from John’s experience being very interesting to hear about, I also began wondering if this course or something similar could perhaps help me.
By January 2002, my life wasn’t horrible – but apart from life-long problems like lack of self-confidence, there had been some very rough patches. For example, 1997 had been one of the worst years of my life not just because of various crises that had happened, but also how badly I had reacted to them. I never wanted to go through another year like 1997 again.
As well, in January 2002 it had been just over a year since my colleagues and I had been outsourced to a new employer, and there were still some teething troubles.
Also, I was now 31 years old and tired of myself and my life continuing to suck.
I had to do something – but what?
As I listened to John, perhaps this course that he’d done called The Turning Point could be an answer.
I was halfway through what had become another of the worst years of my life.
It wasn’t as bad as 1997, partly because I was a little older and wiser and I knew how to deal with some issues better, but overall life wasn’t very enjoyable.
I got internet access at home for the first time, and I had became an addict. I went from going to the cinema at least once a week to only making one visit in six months, and some days at home I was online for six hours straight.
I also discovered eBay and went on a months-long overseas bulk-book-buying spree that added more and more to my ever-increasing credit-card debt.
Work was very tense, with some teething troubles continuing and a new manager who seemed to regard our team with some hostility.
My life-long problem of insomnia became even worse, thanks especially to an arsehole neighbour in the apartment above mine. Thanks to his constant noise during much of this period, most nights consisted of an hour or two of sleep here and there between an hour or two of lying wide awake and going nuts, and as a result most of my waking hours were murder.
So, life sucked.
Early one week in July 2002 I tried too hard to apply a clean-slate approach to starting a new work project. All I ended up doing, to use an expression I coined afterwards, was “mentally boxing myself into a corner”. I can still picture where and how I was sitting at the time when I realised this, and it left me badly shaken.
And then early the next morning at my desk, I got a ‘phone call from my eldest sister’s partner to report that over a thousand kilometres away she’d given birth to her first child some days ahead of schedule, but that mother and child were both fine.
A moment later after hanging up the ‘phone, I was in tears.
I was very happy and relieved for my sister, but I was also miserable. I wanted to be there with her and my family a thousand kilometres away, not in a job and a life that I fucking hated.
John was working at his desk next to mine. Just before I started crying I’d told him about my sister, and as I cried he quietly reassured me that there was nothing to be ashamed about. He also encouraged me to ask our manager about taking some leave that weekend to visit my sister and family, which I did.
I eventually calmed down, and John’s kind presence reminded me of something that could perhaps help me stop hating my job and life.
After some thought, I asked John about The Turning Point.
He told me about it again, and I got thinking.
And eventually, I concluded that I should do The Turning Point myself.
After all, what did I have to lose?
TO BE CONTINUED