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From Dawn to Dusk for our 23 Day Compassion Campaign


I will start my reflections on my 184 St. Patrick's Day Challenge, purposely, with a long quote that resonated strongly with me, upon completion of the one Full Day on the saddle.

-Fyodor Dostoevsky, "The grass glowed with bright and fragrant flowers, birds were flying fearlessly in the air, perched on my head and arms, they joyfully struck me with their darling, fluttering wings. And at last, I saw and knew the people of this happy land. They came to me of themselves, surrounded me, kissed me. The children of the sun, the children of their sun, oh how beautiful they were!.... Their faces were radiant... In their words and voices, there was a note of childlike joy. It was the earth untarnished by the fall. On it lived people who had not yet turned (I interpret this as our modern-day mass psychosis). They desired nothing and were at peace. They did not aspire to knowledge of life as we aspire to understand it, because their life was full. But their knowledge was higher and deeper than ours. But I could not understand their knowledge. They showed me their trees, but I could not understand their intense love with which they looked at them. It was though they were talking with creatures like themselves... And I'm convinced that the trees understood them. They looked at all nature like that, at the animals who lived in peace with them and did not attack them but loved them, conquered by their love... There was no quarreling, no jealousy among them, for they all made up one family."

In many ways, this quote connects to the much shorter but powerful reflections from the famous Bonobo researcher Vanessa Woods, when she said, about the bonobos that they "love you with such helpless abandon, that you love them back. You have to love them back".

Why do I mention Bonobos? Because these highly studied, nurture-based, loving, cooperative species, share almost identical DNA with us complicated but beautiful, homo-sapiens, their fellow and closest living, primate relatives.

And, the 'fall', referred to in the opening quote from Russian novelist and philosopher, Fyodor Dostoevsky, is our corrupted, traumatized, shame-ridden, defensive, conscious state and ego. But remember that we are innately loving, compassionate, nurturing, cooperative species and can fall back to this default when getting 'over' ourselves and understanding our, corrupted psychological states for the past number of generations.

The best way I know how to go beyond the conscious mind with all its contents and distortions is to simply move, to feel in the body through the senses, allow nature in all its beauty to be part of me and just allow my conscious to be a passenger observer. So, I did.

Although I don't think I did set out or intend to explore this concept of 'beyond the Fall', I now feel that my 184 K 'turas', journey, or challenge was to attempt to see past this ego and corrupted psychological state or analysis of my past ancestors. They have all without doubt had deep and hard trauma just to survive horrific situations and pass on whatever they could to the next generations. I did feel parts of their traumas and harsh realities during my attempts to be present with them and they are undeniably real and still here, but I also wanted to tap into their strengths and connectivity with the world around them. It was a huge privilege to be able to choose to spend a full day with them and with nature in motion.

Interestingly, it only took me an hour or so into my cycle and just one generation in, before I realized that the majority of my clan would have also used their bicycles to get from A to B, just as I had chosen to do, and this connection stayed with me as I moved from village to village, valley to valley and across borders both human and natural.

I believed it before my Friday freedom-seeking cycle and I believe it even more now. Going back to our indigenous routes and natural instinctual capacities, blended with a state of present consciousness that complements, reinforces, and adapts our natural states, for our new and adjusted natural environments, is what I and we need to do, today.

Again, going backward, not just to go forwards, but to be able to be present, free of various distortions, in this present-day reality.

On my ancestral cycle, I witness and connected with: what we refer to in Irish as Dúil, Dúile, and Aimsir. Or the forces, and energies that all manifest in different expressions, including animals, plants, and weather.

I experienced the power of the sun and moon rising and falling, twice, in the morning and evening and this acted as a powerful natural compass. I felt the familiarity of rain on my skin and wind at my back and against me, I experienced the shade of the clouds, mountains, and hills, in various formations throughout the day and the warmth of the midday sun when I needed it most. I was in touch with lakes, rivers, dams, and streams. Trees, grasses, and so many other flora and fauna represented and communicated in a way that I recognized differently from an everyday cycle or commute, although they were not all on new paths. Various rabbit communities spoke in a way that wasn't fear-driven as I was not out to cause harm and maybe spoke to that. Lizards, frogs, bees, cows, goats, horses, eagles, and storks, are all in their environments, making space for one more. I rode beside and saw thousands of caterpillars in season and in march for transformation together, I was on their physical path and they were on mine, but I hope that I was able to go around with them and not interfere or inflict. And there were hundreds of less identifiable birds and insects communicating and being present, me and them, somehow, on this day, making it real and authentic.

They showed love, I felt it and showed it back while on my journey to reconnect with my people, back to the ages when that line was less rigid between them and us, nature was us and we it. Turning off to what I was seeing, feeling, and being with, at the moment, would undoubtedly have hindered my experience of being able to look back, look forward, and look to the now.

My focus, whenever I felt myself drifting off the path or into energy depletion, was very intentionally, slow, low, controlled breathing from my belly through my nose, attempting to have my ears open to actually hear, my eyes to see and feel and my skin and body to receive the touch of all different kinds. This focused approach also connected me with my fellow living beings around me as well as my past ancestors who I believe would have been more in sync with their senses and breath as well as their natural environment.

I used gratitude, love, compassion, and desire to connect and reconnect as my main source of fuel and when called upon at various stages, I also tapped in, knew, and felt my 'Daingean', (my inherited fortitude and strength only used when needed as a loving safely net, passed on to me by generations of survival). And I made it with more.

On St. Patrick's Day 23' and our 23 Day Compassion Campaign as bonus drivers, I moved further than I have ever moved before in one day, spending 23 Kilometres with 8 generations of my clan/family in mind, body, and spirit. I started with my living generation of parents and completed my turas with my children and it was a powerful and beautiful experience.

I have spent the weekend recovering in body, breath, thoughts, and reflections, and there's plenty more to stem from this I can see and feel.

I appreciate greatly, all the support that was offered for this, 184 Paddy's Day Challenge.

Go raibh míle maith agaibh go léir. A thousand thank you's to all of you.

-Shane O'Connor 

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Saturday, 10 June 2023
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