A BEARA-based author, Matt Padwick, has written a new book about the extreme lengths that people go to in the quest for happiness and wellbeing.
âThere are a flood of refugees coming to the West looking for the freedoms and advantages that we have, while we are throwing our lives away, or endangering our health with addictive and obsessive behaviour,' according to the author, who has been invited to read from his latest novel, Transpose, at the West Cork Literary Festival.
âPeople do crazy things, like the late Uli Emanuele, a base jumper, who died on August 17th last year at the age of 29 after a tragic accident. What makes someone jump off a cliff in an expensive onesie?' asked Matt. âIs it driven by the manufacturers of the specialist kit we need to participate in these activities, or the makers of the mini-cameras that can be strapped to our helmets so our exploits can be recorded?
âOr is it the social media sites that make it possible for us to share our adventures with friends and anonymous others around the world?Â
âNo. We risked our lives attempting crazy stunts a long time before YouTube was popular.Â
âThese daredevils claim their stunts breaks the monotony of everyday life. They say there is a moment of clarity, of spaciousness, and that their senses are fully open. It is when they feel truly alive.'
But Matt believes the satisfaction is short-lived. He is speaking from experience, having lived a life of extreme sports, such as snowboarding, whitewater rafting and jumping off high things, but never base jumping â that, he says, is âtoo new.'
âMy own crash was not just physical: it was mental and emotional, and I can attribute much of my recovery to Buddhist philosophy and meditation. Â
âHaving some experience in both worlds, I see how the thrill is not in the extreme activity itself, but in the heightened awareness â the high â it generates and demands. Â
âIn the heart of all that derring-do â the speed and the angles â there is the deep stillness, space and clarity of a mental state free of thoughts and emotions.Â
âI call it Big Mind, and having practised meditation for many years, I have integrated that practice into my daily life. I occasionally experience this same heightened awareness in ordinary activity, which proves to me that the high doesn't have to be life threatening, expensive and fleeting â it is freely available.Â
âIt's a fascinating irony: I went to such extraordinary lengths to find something that is never separate from me.
âThe problem is that meditation â sitting quietly and watching my mind without reacting â is not easy. In fact it takes extreme discipline. Â And courage.Â
âIt is a myth to say meditation is boring. Meditation is the modern equivalent of slaying the dragon â a battle with which I am still engaged.'
â¢ Matt Padwick will be giving a free reading from Transpose â A Self-Styled Revolution at Bantry Bookshop at 11.30am on Friday, July 21st.