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December 29 2007

DonInLondon - ĎDay In the Lifeí A Message of Recovery

My Name Is Don and I Am An Alcoholic

Not that was easy for me to say. I was listening to another alcoholic in recovery today. Thirty nine Years Sober..

And the good news is, we are both sober today. I guess this is the levelling we all need when trying any endeavour, that we are all equal and have rights too. The right to recovery and the right to find our own path.

Why Say this Tonight

After some years trying to get my life back together, I realised I had no life to get back together after the last days of my drinking.

Maybe this is what I realise tonight about my progress back to living a normal life. That we all have to start from scratch all over again. And its ok.
The truth is a hard burden when we fight against it, want our lives back the way they were. And in reality the life we had is gone and all we need do is embrace change, make our living work as best we can and then wonder what next by the day.

What makes for recovery?

We need to understand our malady first, and then to work out what we can do and what we cannot do. Once we admit and accept the nature of our complaint with alcohol, that we are addicted and life is unmanageable, we open the door to sobriety. We need never drink again!

My problem was I wanted to be restored to normal drinking and it took an age to realise my drinking had never really been normal in the sense that is was what normal people did. I drank to oblivion. Normal sane people donít do that day in and day out, I did.

Today And Tonight

I have had many reminders of how wilful we can be. That we can get stuck and hung up on events, people, places and experiences which hold us to times past. And we are hard pressed to lose them.

Love

We can be driven to love and be loved, we are better in the copany of others and especially we are gifted to partnerships. I had wonderful experience over the years with adorable women in my life. And still my insecurity meant they abandoned me or I abandoned them. How many times? Too many to recollect with fairness and as many were like me, just plain lonely, we teamed up and then we undid ourselves one way or another. Just as anyone can.

Alone

Another feature of me and my drinking, best alone to oblivion, and then start over as the next evening let me, and then weekends and then in the final years when life had really gone to pot, I ended up drinking round the clock.

Success

No amount of success of any material kind improved my outlook, no amount of things, places or people helped me feel right. I never felt right in those halcyon days of outward success.

Broken

Only when I was completely broken, had been hospitalised, gone through no end of detox therapies and with a priest at the bedside still could not stop me on my self destructive path. It took the loss of everything to a place called rock bottom over and over before I accepted I could not get sober on my own.

Despair and desolation had always been there in my living, it finally tipped over the imaginary line into alcoholism somewhere and somehow, I donít really know. It happened though and then all hell let loose on me.

Had it not been for family, friends and fellowship, I would have perished some years back. And today I feel quite different as life enables and choices made in the day.

Could I have got sober on my own? I think not, and even with medical support to help with the physical malady, my head and heart were completely broken down to mere functional and not at all to any level where a person can cope for themselves.

I am reminded of these elements of my life as I listened to a simple share and story, full of joys and full of sorrows as life is these days. We alcoholics can make a simple situation as complicated can be. And also tonight messages of another who really does feel differently about the utility of AA. As I enjoy my fellowship, their opinion could not be worse about AA.

And in essence how we live, what works for us and how we keep to good choices is really a personal journey we develop. For some Aa is clearly not the answer to all their problems today. And as for me, Aa has made everything possible, to a right sized person, just equal to everyone and everyone equal to me.

Judgment

We all have to make our way. When we judge others, we fail often to make the most of what we have. If we judge others of higher value, we devalue ourselves as minion. If we judge people of lower value than us, we play God. if we are equal we are level in our outlook and live without prejudice. As we may and time teaches.

I seek the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference.




Daily Reflections From The Daily Reflections Site For Recovery

ANONYMITY

Anonymity is the spiritual foundation of our Traditions, ever reminding us to place principles before personalities.

ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS, p. 564

Tradition Twelve became important early in my sobriety and, along with the Twelve Steps, it continues to be a must in my recovery. I became aware after I joined the Fellowship that I had personality problems, so that when I first heard it, the Tradition's message was very clear: there exists an immediate way for me to face, with others, my alcoholism and attendant anger, defensiveness, offensiveness. I saw Tradition Twelve as being a great ego-deflator; it relieved my anger and gave me a chance to utilize the principles of the program. All of the Steps, and this particular Tradition, have guided me over decades of continuous sobriety. I am grateful to those who were here when I needed them.

Twenty-Four Hours A Day

A.A. Thought For The Day

To the extent that I fail in my responsibilities, A.A. fails. To the extent that I succeed, A.A. succeeds. Every failure of mine will set back A.A. work to that extent. Every success of mine will put A.A. ahead to that extent. I shall not wait to be drafted for service to others, but I shall volunteer. I shall accept every opportunity to work for A.A. as a challenge, and I shall do my best to accept every challenge and perform my task as best I can. Will I accept every challenge gladly?

Meditation For The Day

People are always failures in the deepest sense when they seek to live without God's sustaining power. Many people try to be self-sufficient and seek selfish pleasure and find that it does not work too well. No matter how much material wealth they acquire, no matter how much fame and material power, the time of disillusionment and futility usually comes. Death is ahead, and they cannot take any material thing with them when they go. What does it matter if I have gained the whole world, but lost my own soul?

Prayer For The Day

I pray that I will not come empty to the end of my life. I pray that I may so live that I will not be afraid to die.

As Bill Sees It

INSTINCTS RUN WILD, p. 282

Every time a person imposes his instincts unreasonably upon others, unhappiness follows. If the pursuit of wealth tramples upon people who happen to be in the way, then anger, jealousy, and revenge are likely to be aroused. If sex runs riot, there is similar uproar.

Demands made upon other people for too much attention, protection, and love can invite only domination or revulsion in the protectors themselves-two emotions quite as unhealthy as the demands which evoked them. When an individual's desire for prestige becomes uncontrollable, whether in the sewing circle or at the international conference table, other people suffer and often revolt. This collision of instincts can produce anything from a cold snub to a blazing revolution.

TWELVE AND TWELVE, p. 44




29th December 2006

Nearly Year End (written last night)

Well indeed it is, I have decided to make sure I donít go into to the new year with too much clutter in my head or in my heart. So as per usual, it all starts with looking around my Palace and considering what I use and donít currently use. itís a bit of cathartic materialistic cleaning that prepares me to look at my insides.

I got to a meeting tonight and quite felt at home, knowing lots of people and seeing them with frequency really helps form friendships and bonds. It takes time to get anywhere with ourselves and anyone we meet.

Quick fixes and Friends

How often do we meet someone we connect to? Mostly quite often because we look at them and see what we like, and what we know about ourselves. Sometimes we might wish we had expressed care and reserve as quick made friends tend to go away as quickly. Or we have expectations of friendship which cannot be delivered as we might wish or even have expected.

Slow and Careful Development

"I didnít get where I am today..." without a lot of effort and reflection. So we need to be careful we donít make too many assumptions about people. We need to be as thorough and careful as we can be. Often we are quick to accept without really finding out the type of person or friend we might have, we tend to take face value and then find we are completely trapped into something often unwholesome.

Donít hold People Hostage

We are all good at this, we have expectations and we believe we have been clear, and actually it can be very one sided. We need to be good at understanding, going back to basic building blocks often to really know who and what we are dealing with.

Assumptions Galore

Most of us feel we are good and have a good outlook. We think and feel we attract people who are the same. Often we are not quite as nice as we might wish, and we find ourselves with less than good friends as a result. We attract like for like often and we bend reality when it suits us and so do they.

We need to be Real

How real are we some of the time. We are never perfect specimens, and we need to know ourselves pretty well before we career around looking for others like us.

Its taken me decades to be able to find myself. After a punishing living and working environment along the way, I unfortunately fell through the cracks and lost my way. And then found myself through AA again.

What I have found is not all to the good and certainly not all to the bad. There is much of me to change. And as I find I may change myself and my outlook, and am pretty powerless changing anything else, be it people, places or things.

Making Good Tonight

Step Eight of our programme in Alcoholics Anonymous, "Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all."

Itís a bit of a tall order and look at ourselves and make a list of people we have harmed, and also we need include ourselves in this.

Part of this step, is making contact back to the real world, and being involved in daily life and making a contribution as we may. The pain behind this step is in admission, through other steps and seeing how to make amends. I have a gigantic one to make someday, and actually in the spiritual and emotional sense which counts most, it is done already, over and over. Just by being on this path of sobriety and being able to find myself.

I am fortunate to have been of a mind to own my stuff and behaviour all my life and when I have made a mess of things, promptly owned up to my part in everything. Seemed the only way really. But there are always some things we donít recognise and donít wish to acknowledge, and only time releases and makes that amends possible. There will always be step eights.

Sharer Tonight

Its good to hear from people with many years sobriety and emotional development. Its like wisdom in the wind of time. We get to learn first hand how things can turn out and how we may make our own lives good again. Its not easy to face hard truths, until we accept we need to and make our way as we can and make our amends.

In sharing I always get identification for me, from what I did, to might have done if the tables had been turned

Above All

There is something we need make sure we see, that we are culpable and all play our part in life. We can judge it and take it as it is. We cannot deny our part in living and still be at peace. This takes time effort and recollections and questions and answers from ourselves and others.

Gently!

As we get to the truth, we need real compassion for ourselves and others. We played our part and others reacted and responded as they might. No one is ever to blame or blameless, we played our role as best we could and so did others. And when insane with addictions we were truly hampered and gullible to making the worst of errors known to anyone.

We do need to be gentle and thorough so we understand what is possible and not good for us or anyone else. As we move on to step nine, where we do make the amends it needs careful consideration and reflection. Most often we need to sound out our proposals with a friend or mentor and be open to change.

Change

Its true beyond doubt, the only thing in this world we can do, is change ourselves. We can develop a better attitude and a better outlook, we can modify and behave to the good of living. We need not judge others as they have their journey and path. We can judge what is right for us as we go.

Consequences

So many to the good and so many we have to endure as our path has consequences. We live with them, and acknowledge our part in life. We can stop looking to blame anything or anyone.

Classic interruption just now from a friend

Having got ill with something unconnected to our fellowship a friend of mine was just in hospital over the Christmas break. And their feelings are about others and letting the side down, rather than making sure they are well and able. How do we get so distraught and so unable to be ourselves and listen and do the right thing? Always its because we feel less than others, that we are letting the side down in some way.

We need to get out of hurting ourselves and feeling guilty and shameful. I have had to acknowledge my ailments, and shortcomings if you will, I feel ok because I know my limits and let others know. It is not a cop out.

Know our Limits and Safety

Well, as a risk taker driven by insecurity I have done my fair share of dangerous things, taken unacceptable risks and now have learned safe risks and safer way of living. Still an adventure, the real risk of life is not living as we have opportunity and letting ourselves live less than human existence.

We are worth the effort and our efforts to be human are worth all the endeavour, so gently we move along, sometimes swiftly sometimes slowly as we can.

I feel it is time to stop for now, some snippets from mail sent today might help see where my head has been today..

Excerpts from mail

["all is well with me and quite content today. Have had my amends accepted it seems and life feels less burdensome. Itís a real good bit of news to have people let me go, or in this case let myself off the hook.
Seems I set a high standard for my part in things. I don't feel I do, as in reality my reactions have not always been what I feel is right. but then that is just me!
Letting people know there is no ill will anymore makes me feel better. This is not from ego, its just realising everyone does their best and this includes when things I did or they did were as good as we were then. We all change, so that feels right both ways, see you soon"]

["I am sorry you are not feeling too well, the cold thing is about round here and I await my turn! Eating Vitamin C a lot to try combat the inevitable..

You know it really unsettles our nearest and dearest when we start to assert who we are. And its not subtle for them, because in sobriety we make choices to the good pretty much automatically and we are not so easy to manipulate. We take away the opportunity for power being exerted over us and we are less controllable. And how does someone get the better of the situation when we are sober?

The other problem is the old gossip about us, well it is old and not the newer version we are now. It means the old gossip in a household about us has no real relevance to today. And unfortunately in a household with children, the children see a difference too in what they hear and how we are. So a lot of the old assumptions do not seem so easy to accept as gospel. It can undermine and make the boundaries different and the old boundary where we could be led into being less than we are, is quite hard to maintain.

It makes our nearest a little out of kilter, especially if they are trying to be as they are when we were much more open to criticism. We are less the whipping boy or girl and more independent of the old, old stories.

It's a bit of a facer for those in families who have secured their place because of our old place in the pecking order. No wonder sometimes our siblings can be in limbo too as they work out what is going on. It causes discomfort. Fortunately this is not my experience this year, or actually in other years when I was still the other side of the line with regard to addiction. But it does make everybody wonder what is going on. And the reaction can be more difficult for them than us. all we get maybe is old news back at us. It's a subtle and pervasive put down we really don't need and they don't quite know why they do it! Change is in us, and we cannot change them, only they can. truly we are somewhat powerless to change their outlook, especially if it suited to have someone less able than them.
Everyone has their battle with ego and esteem. We get esteem, and sometimes others do not follow with us, they remain as always, a bit skewed and a bit frustrated not to have their place endorsed by our "less than" being.

I could be way off here, but it struck me listening last night that some of us are changing significantly, even when we don't see it ourselves. My friend who did the main share last night, well he is doing a great job in recovery on himself, and his world is improving beyond where anyone might have thought. He could be a good sponsor to anyone and this change is fundamental, as he has never before realised he has wisdom to share and people actually love hearing what he has to say. A bit of a change from being silent in the park drinking from a can and not wanting to be seen or talked to ever.

Changes! Blimey they do catch us out! Get well soon, and thanks I am still wondering about the video clips. Feel I might shave the scruff off!"]

["hope all is well where you are today. Its been an interesting few days. Last Sunday I was sharing about the miserable time I had in our rehab centre. And as an antidote to those who feel real connection to their rehab experience and wanting to revisit it on their annual return for old boys and girls reunions, ours is quite different!

I shared my feelings about discharging myself after the months spent there and the awful things they did to break me down further. As you know I was already quite broken when I got there. And it seems we need to tell others our experience. Again, behind me was another graduate of the same rehab, who like me and you felt the need to leave spontaneously because of ill treatment. He thanked me profusely and felt he had been alienated by the whole process and left in a rage similar to mine.

Same day at an earlier meeting another refugee from another rehab talked to me about my sharing the horrid parts of rehab at Soho Alcohol Treatment centre months before. like me, Soho had been the saving of me for those first weeks into recovery. And then they ended up going into rehab, and their experience was more like mine again.

So it seems when I went to Chelsea and Westminster for that psyche assessment to ask to be locked up as dangerous to myself, and being told I was angry not mad or insane, well it makes me feel quite angry about what happened to me. If I had not met you and shared, and had not gone to get the psychiatric assessment, I would never have resolved the issue, issue of rehab at all. And I am glad others have benefited from the angry story I had.

And of course hearing it is closing down, it is a relief because what was wrong was tragic, and what happened to people who had other ailments like me, well it made some die. A friend of one of my mother's neighbours went where we went for rehab, and they committed suicide after being there.

Sorry to rake up the old stuff, but I felt you might like to know we were far from alone in our feelings about St Luke's rehab centre. There are two strands to the St Luke experience, first is they created dependence by their counselling methods on their counsellors, and second if you retained any self will or just ordinary sense of propriety, the likelihood was to be singled out to be made foolish and stupid. They were like bull fighters orchestrating the inmates to fight each other, rather than help each other!

So although the news accesses my deep, the resentment is not there, the truth is and I am satisfied anger and rage were completely justified. They did me harm, and AA saved my hide for sure! And AA actually let me find my identity and good in myself again. So when I hear rehab in future I may tend to share my experience, strength and hope that if there is a God, judgment day may feel a bit hot. And then of course I realise the truth, they did what they did, and it was their best. That they were deluded, without doubt, acceptance and forgiveness comes along of its own accord. Their behaviour remains despicable and awful, consequences that people died unnecessarily and they are not there doing their awful worst! Consequences will be whatever they are. And I am not going to avoid the feelings inside me when I feel them. Just let them go as may be, by sharing my truth, that is the consequence I may share, and as to any other consequences, its is not in my gift or my concern...

Look forward to seeing you soon "]

Till tomorrow.

December 29th 2005

A Book With Little To Teach Me?

a place where last gaspers turn up. The last chance saloon, the place where when all else fails, broken people might get mended. The problem is the mending is inside, but no one tells the hapless and no one can, its that bad. Rehab stories are like war stories, trouble is hearing them might impact, most likely don't. I got a book this year for Xmas, on a man going through rehab, and being told how good it was, my reaction was not to read it.

I did rehab. And reading a book on it... The usefulness to me of reading the trial, sentence and redemption, or put another way, experience strength and hope. Well it is as good as a chocolate teapot to me. Consequences. I know them. Good news when others tell me of this book, then they are aware the horror of where addiction takes a person, thank God not experienced first hand, at least its a primer for the blissfully ignorant. Thank society and nature they are ignorant that blind addiction, yet aware enough to share the horror of anotherís experience of rehab. Shocked and elated by transformations, the miracle of recovery. Given to me.. I started reading it. First page, last page. Dipped in to it. Every word shouting and
sharpening recollections the merest tinge more clear. For my recollections of rehab and every moment to its door are etched as deep as life and never forgotten. This book eloquent in my experience and real and plausible. This little book of horrors, a sharp shock maybe, or to me just another day in the life of... Sometimes people want to show they know, they care and they see the good that came from this book of experience and recovery. I know first hand each day and moment. The book is good, I know, and know full well it serves no purpose in my experience, just for me, just for today and every day.

I could write the book, it would be as good, but no better or worse. Its a good book for those who never need to go to rehab, to get a flavour of savage days and torment, self inflicted in the beginning and beyond control to the end. Rehab, recovery, blood and guts and worse as living dead like me get back to living life, alive! I read some more and can attest its accurate and moving pages portray the worst and worst of living and its consequence. The trap of consequence, the shame and guilt injected as daily reminder by hapless tenants and their keepers. My days in rehab, closeted with fellows as deeply wounded as life can deal and held in check by insanity. Watched over by walking miracles who deftly wound their charges, without qualm and without mastery, hacks and quacks devoid of both feeling and intellect and doing good as do gooders do. My days in rehab I can confirm as grim as grim can be, saved by my own compassion, as in the book I was given. Recollections and malpractice, ignorance and malice stalk the halls of rehab. And in their eyes, the do gooderís bible, predicated on their own folly and experience as Hair shirts are their uniform. Sad mystics and rehab are obvious bedfellows, our present day workhouses where moral fibre makes for tough shit, not tough love. And tough love might once have been the medicine now distorted and obscene as grubby practitioners kill most their charges.

Struck dumb in abject misery most die in or from rehab. And so the book describes. And accomplishment for living through another hell leaves most, most grateful some might believe.

For me and my view, before during and after the rehab of my life, it was never in rehab! It was in life, the gift of anonymous friends and fellowship. The book I was given is sound and forthright, exuding emotion and experience common to every addiction recoverer. And not lost on me. I guess to read it...

I lived it I will not forget the horror and death, and I wonder why some rehabs still continue old and stupid practices, which kill rather than cure. They seem to know best and I am one voice. And I am just that, one voice, with experience and knowledge and skill, to make good... Hair shirt preachers, their only path to redemption, their own pathology, neither science nor art, mystics without mystery, clerics without religion, sanctimonious dangerous lawless sleazy miscreants, lazy in their parsimony. No wonder rehab fails most who enter, where death is just around the corner and life is a lifetime away. I am glad of joy these days in spite of and not because of rehab ways.

December 29th 2004

The Greatest Conqueror

One may conquer a thousand men a thousand times in battle but he who conquers the self is the greatest conqueror.

-/-




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You have the power to tolerate anyone and any situation. But tolerance is not just suffering in silence.

It means going beyond any personal discomfort you may feel, and giving a gift to whom ever you would tolerate. Give your time, attention, understanding, compassion, care - all are gifts, which paradoxically, you also receive in the process of giving.

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Ghandi

There come to us moments in life when about some things we need no proof from without. A little voice within us tells us, 'You are on the right track, move neither to your left nor right, but keep to the straight and narrow way.

A person falsely claiming to act under divine inspiration or the promptings of the inner voice without having any such, will fare worse than the one falsely claiming to act under the authority of an earthly sovereign. Whereas the latter on being exposed will escape with injury to his body, the former may perish body and soul together.

You have to believe no one but yourselves. You must try to listen to the inner voice, but if you will not have the expression"inner voice", you may use the expression "dictates of reason", which you should obey, and if you will not parade God, I have no doubt you will parade something else which in the end will prove to be God, for, fortunately, there is no one and nothing else but God in this universe.

For me truth is the sovereign principle, which includes numerous other principles. This truth is not only truthfulness in word, but truthfulness in thought also, and not only the relative truth of our conception, but the Absolute Truth, the Eternal Principle, that is God. There are innumerable definitions of God, because His manifestations are innumerable. They overwhelm me with wonder and awe and for a moment stun me.




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The Big Issue Foundation's core ethos is self help. We offer support to homeless and socially excluded people who seek to gain control of their lives and help them move off the streets and into a home and a job.We work with over 2000 vendors across the UK, supporting them with a diverse program of opportunities either delivered through our own services or in partnership with specialist agencies. Each new vendor has a Needs Assessment, and from this an individual action plan is set, which is monitored in supervision sessions with support staff.




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Ghandi

There come to us moments in life when about some things we need no proof from without. A little voice within us tells us, 'You are on the right track, move neither to your left nor right, but keep to the straight and narrow way.

A person falsely claiming to act under divine inspiration or the promptings of the inner voice without having any such, will fare worse than the one falsely claiming to act under the authority of an earthly sovereign. Whereas the latter on being exposed will escape with injury to his body, the former may perish body and soul together.

You have to believe no one but yourselves. You must try to listen to the inner voice, but if you will not have the expression"inner voice", you may use the expression "dictates of reason", which you should obey, and if you will not parade God, I have no doubt you will parade something else which in the end will prove to be God, for, fortunately, there is no one and nothing else but God in this universe.

For me truth is the sovereign principle, which includes numerous other principles. This truth is not only truthfulness in word, but truthfulness in thought also, and not only the relative truth of our conception, but the Absolute Truth, the Eternal Principle, that is God. There are innumerable definitions of God, because His manifestations are innumerable. They overwhelm me with wonder and awe and for a moment stun me.































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