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The Gift of A Loving Brother

Updated: Aug 10, 2018

15 years ago on 18th July 2003

- summer school break-up day for my boys, I got the call to tell me that my dear, gentle, super intelligent brother John (that’s him on the left - he was always good at pulling daft faces), had ended his life at age 39 - only 6 months after we enjoyed a brilliant family night out with lots of friends, great food and dancing til dawn to celebrate my 40th (the other photo was from that night) - where I remember feeling so optimistic about spending more time together again and excited for him to become more involved with my sons, since he’d started to engage more with us all, but already, I came to understand

he was saying goodbye.

John was shy, unassuming, creative and very talented at art, humble and great fun, he 'saw' things that most don't - in a million shades of grey and was, like me, a ‘feeler’ - and he would go off the radar for days, weeks or months sometimes and wouldn’t answer calls or messages as he’d be in a pit of shut down where nobody could reach him.

I’ve always felt deep compassion for the struggles of men and it began with those in my family. John had a purity and playful childlike innocence about him that people just loved, though I don’t think he realised that he had that effect on so many people as the numbers that surprised us all who felt the great loss of his passing, and he struggled so much with the hard stuff of life - the cruelties and inhumanities

of our species - and just wanted to love the

world better.

We were very alike like that.

He is one of my inspirations with a mentoring project I developed and one of the males in my life who made it impossible to see anything but the beauty and vulnerability of the souls of men who are made to cut off from their most sensitive aspects because it’s not the way men are supposed to be! He is also part of the inspiration to do work that addresses the far-reaching consequences of this shut-down: the constant competitiveness and aggressive pretence of men among men; for women and children; for the rich diversity of other species we share this planet with; for the natural world.

I too want to inspire what he wanted - for the masks to come off; for the ‘real’ to come through; for compassion to be allowed to come into bloom. He is part of my inspiration to keep working for these things until my own time is up.

John and I used to have this little thing as kids we called 'our secret'. We were both very emotionally aware. Neither of us could bear to see others suffering. John had this extraordinary capacity to 'feel' the pain of others - an often traumatising characteristic for children who are born into a world that doesn't want to 'feel' that we shared - and his compassion knew no bounds, even as a child.

As empathic children, we both had a profound sense that humans were confusing - full of mixed messages and hard to understand; that they seemed to hurt one another so deeply; to not always care (or be deliberately shut off) about the suffering they caused - especially to animals and others who weren't able to defend themselves; to be blind to the truths we could see through our innocent, uncluttered eyes.

We both had a deep affinity with animals, and while our language would have been far less eloquent then, we believed in love, unity, kindness, inclusiveness and happy endings; we believed we knew something that others couldn't see, would not see, no matter how passionately either of us wished we could make them - and we would sometimes withdraw into our private world to talk secretly with fervent passion and the innocence of children about 'when we're grown up'; how we'd buy a farm and rescue animals - two of every kind from our environment at least, particularly those who suffer most at the hands of humans - and lock the door to the painful world that resolutely refuses to see them as fellow 'beings' who feel, and love, and hurt just as we do, but only as sense-less 'commodities' that exist purely for our use; a world that instead only hurt them so terribly, coldly and thoughtlessly. We longed to keep as many of them as possible safe and protected from cruelty and harm, to live in love and safety in our care; to know humans as a source of love and compassion. Makes me smile now - like our own little Noah's Ark!

The thing is this; in recent years - that dream has unexpectedly been calling to me - prodding me, luring me back, reminding me! Though I wasn't so much aware of it at the beginning, it's been bubbling up more and more beneath the surface of my explicit focus - as if I'm being guided towards a way that it may be possible to incorporate the various principles of the work I've been doing, to promote compassion, 'awakeness' and personal responsibility, to become the manifestation of the work I was born to do. Had I the means right now - this is what I'd be doing.

Looking back, I can see how the pieces have been quietly falling together beneath the dramas and the pains of things not coming easy / feeling so damn hard - how things have been coming into my awareness, and why I've remained pro-actively on course around the things that have always meant so much to me, even though there has been so much financial hardship and people around me have tried to 'comfort', cajole or in some cases bully me back into the 'normal' of a permanent j.o.b. (Just Over Broke), so I wouldn't have to be perpetually - well, broke - as a result of my determination to persuade the world to open up and hear my voice, or have others get stressed by my no doubt frustratingly renegade spirit.

The truth is, money and making my own life comfortable was never a driver for me, since I understood at some level even as a child that money was meaningless if all it did was enable me to go lie on a beach somewhere while all the suffering in the world continued and though I can see that that may have been to some degree misguided in a system for life called capitalism that we're all pretty much forced to go along with by nature of how entrenched it is - all that mattered to me, for most of my life actually, was wanting passionately to pull away the heavy cloak that seemed to cover the eyes & ears, and the sleeping (hypnotised) hearts of so many of my fellow humans.

Waking people up to the simple truths I've just always known in the depths of my soul - that love, light and healing of all the 'broken' in the human spirit is so achievable and finding ways to build inroads to this wisdom within accessible to as many underserved sections of the population as possible has been my predominant preoccupation - if only I could suss out how to reach people and inspire them to listen to what I've been trying to say before I went under myself; a concern that has been a constant companion to the days, weeks, months and years of effort of trying to launch my work projects with no resources other than from periods of 'employment' to stay afloat while continuing to keep my focus on making a breakthrough in a system that has little interest in the radical voice.

The 'secret' has evolved now and the time is close. I can feel it. Maybe my beautiful brother is pulling some strings behind the scenes. I know I will do this, but with a more grown up twist. It will incorporate education through engagement; community; contribution; natural health & wellness; non-animal food production; the modelling of social and personal responsibility; a committed and conscious team of people who share similar values and who will help bring the dream to life; and many of the principles of the work I'm currently focussed on. The jury's still out on the 'corporate' framework as I so believe in working toward inclusion for all so that money should never again be an obstacle to positive change for the many while so much of it filters into the pockets of the 1%, so to speak.

Lots to do still to bring it all together and raise the funds to kick it off but the conditions are aligning. So you see, though they can take a few hard knocks, and may change shape along the way from how they started out, dreams really can come true!

I know it, deep in my heart, that this one will - because when I visualise my ideal life - THIS is what I'm doing!

With love,

Trish Brennan


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