Welcome to the web site of JJ Sheahan
June 5, 2017

I lost my reading glasses last night. Annoying. Without them, I have to squint at anything I read close-up. We had driven to Launceston in the afternoon, with a number of stops, to drop two friends at the airport, then driven home in the dark. So I searched my clothes; I searched the car. I looked on the benches and table-tops where I might have put them on my return. Nothing. Do I start phoning the café, the airport, the friends?

No, I squinted, and that’s all I did. I did not enter into an internal diatribe about my failings, nor look for a way to shift blame. My mind, so used to being in charge, did not leap to making up interpretations of this little event. There was no rage, merely the ephemeral annoyance. I went to bed content and in the morning found the glasses in their case beside my seat in the car. 

So different. My response to this minor irritation was so different to what it would once have been. There was not the wasted time or energy, no self-bombardment with intense doses of negativity. Why? I don’t know exactly. How? Through using a small, internal exercise given me in 2015: the 7Second exercise. In this case, the change was in place when I noticed the glasses were missing. Sometime in the last 18 months, I had worked the exercise using a similar experience, and it stuck. The change stuck through no ongoing effort on my part. It is a constant revelation to me and I much prefer living my life this way.

By-the-by, my wife also lost her (back-up) glasses three days ago. Before they turned up last night, there was very little ruffling about them or the inconvenience – as there once would have been. Living with each other is much more calm, easier.

This might sound like a long bow to draw from a briefly lost pair of glasses. True enough.

More to come then ….

My fear of heights has vanished. When I was very young, I had no such fear. I was not too reckless – I only recall falling from one tree – and enjoyed the challenge and the different view. My aunt Alicia had to bring my younger brothers and I down from the platform of a tank set high above the orchard – two storeys at least. (‘You were a bastard of a child’ she said to me lovingly and grinning at a recent family gathering.) In my teens I climbed onto roofs without a thought. Sometime, somehow, I developed a feeling of dread about being up high – in a bell-tower, or near a window in a skyscraper. Edges next to falls became terror-filled. Or I did. A vivid memory of the intensity of the fear was a walk my girlfriend (now my wife) took me on in the Blue Mountains: the Undercliff Walk. I felt uncomfortable many times, but was terrified I was going to fall into the valley on one particular stretch. Some force was pulling at me, trying to suck me off the narrow, unfenced walkway and into the abyss beside me.

Not long after my first day of 7Second, we were back at the Blue Mountains, with a friend who loved to walk – in the mountains. ‘Shall we do the Undercliff Walk?’ And suddenly the remembered feeling of being terrified of falling from the path to my death was back, vivid. I had a choice, clear and simple. ‘Yes.’ And the walk was an absolute delight, even that part that I had remembered with such fear.

When we returned home to Tassie, we had some pruning to do on the Chinese Elm. I found myself at the top of the extension ladder, balanced against a high branch, wielding the pruning saw, when I suddenly realized what I was doing. No fear – just a smile, a mental shake of the head at myself and gratitude. Next year, I noticed the same thing, this time when leaning out over the roof’s edge trying to cut branches hanging over the power line. Same response.

I don’t know at what level these changes are taking place – it is beyond or my conscious awareness. It is as though, when I exercise what is above the surface, the thread that runs down to the roots in me comes free. And whatever else has grown from that root comes free also. I don’t understand it, but it is working for me.