Fictionalized autobiography of Irish Catholic Boy

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Re-released in December 2020

Metal Dog – Long Road Home:

A mythical journey thorough the eye of a needle

The fictionalized memoir of an improbable being

By Jim Byrne

Introduction

Metal_Dog__Long_Roa_Cover_for_Kindle (2) (853x1280)I was born in the Year of the Dog, 1946 – during the summer; which makes me a Metal Dog.  Metal Dogs are hardwired to promote justice and fairness, and to be loyal to others.  They are offended by injustice and unfairness.

My name is Jim Byrne…

– No. I’m Daniel O’Beeve…

– Don’t be silly. My name is Jim Byrne, and Daniel O’Beeve is just an alter ego label that I created for myself to facilitate the writing of my autobiography, so that I could “protect the innocent”, and avoid being sued into the bargain.

– No. I’m Daniel O’Beeve. I was labelled Jim Byrne by my biological parents…

– Actually, I am “this thing here, typing this line”. ‘Jim Byrne’ and ‘Daniel O’Beeve’ are two external labels for this thing; but this thing is part of the universal spirit of the world…

– Come on…!

(That’s enough schizoid squabbling in public. Ed)

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If I’d known there was a little blue, furry professor of psychology, in a space station, billions of light-years from Earth, watching my every move, through an intergalactic wormhole, I might not have felt so alone and frightened for such a big chunk of my life!

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If I could have chosen what would happen to me in the school playground, at the age of four years, I would have chosen a safe, conventional, inclusive experience. I would have chosen to be accepted; liked; included in games; and treated kindly.

I would not have chosen to be the barren briar, rejected in the corner of the playground – with no leaves or petals – piled high on all sides with the manure of childhood rejection, cruelty and aggression, of a type which is meted out to outsiders and ‘natural victims’ everywhere children congregate on this planet. And the gaily coloured “flower children” who surrounded me thought nothing of the pain they inflicted upon me, by rejection and bullying.  No Metal Dogs among them!

I would never have chosen the pain of being the rejected outsider, if I’d been given the choice of having the more desirable pleasures of social connection that seemed to be available to most of the other children, much of the time.

But in the process of choosing pleasure over pain, acceptance over rejection, I would have blocked the pass that has led to the richest imaginable older age; a life of being my own person; of finding the source of love within myself; of creating my own life’s work, and career; of finding a soul mate; of being self-assured, and unwavering in my commitment to the truth, the way, and the light. I would have dammed up the streams of compassion and humility that flowed through my little, pained heart.  I would have opened the door to materialistic egoism… and thus to a stunted life.

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The importance of childhood experience

Suppose you were a member of a race of advanced, human-like beings, in a remote region of our galaxy, and you knew that your home planet was going to explode tomorrow, and that there was a spaceship leaving for Earth which had one place left on it for a child of yours who would survive and grow up and reproduce on planet Earth.  And suppose you had a little daughter, aged six months, who had a chance to go on that spaceship, and you had a choice of three different families who would adopt her, on planet Earth.  Would you not be very particular about which family she went to?

If you are wise, and caring, and reasonably well informed, you would want her to go to the best, most caring, and most moral, most loving, and most well-provisioned family possible.

Isn’t that true?

And the reason you would want that outcome is this: At some level you know that childhood experiences mark us indelibly for the whole of the rest of our lives.

If your little daughter was to have a set of negative, or traumatic experiences growing up, that would disadvantage her, most likely for the whole of the rest of her life – unless she worked very hard to overcome her difficulties, including going into prolonged therapy.  But the marks would always be there, even if some of the distortion of her personality was healed, or corrected; and even if much of the pain was relieved.

Early childhood experience is formative.  It shapes our personalities, and our life possibilities.

The human story factory

We are born into a world in which a story, or mythology, is already being discussed, and taught, and reinforced.  We learn to see ourselves through the lenses provided by that story or mythology.  And if those lenses tell us that we have to accept the constrictions of a tiny space in the world – a small role, with little personal power, and few resources, and no right to think big, or to create a vision of a better tomorrow – then we are doomed to live that life-script – unless and until we wake up.

But waking is just be the beginning. We then have to struggle against our conditioning; to insist that we will not walk the road we have been thrown onto; that we will hold out for a better path, which leads to a better destination.  And that kind of ‘holding out’ requires a lot of courage; vision; determination; self-confidence; grit; and high frustration tolerance.

This is why the circumstances of our birth are so very important, and why every moral government should work diligently to ensure increasingly equal birth circumstances for all the children for whom they are responsible.  All the children of all social groups.

To ignore this need for an equal start in life is to doom the majority of children to a life of suffering and distortion and deprivation.

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Background

I (Jim Byrne/ Daniel O’Beeve) was born into circumstances of extreme economic and cultural deprivation. I was subjected to ‘an educational process’ which was designed to prevent me from ever being able to think for myself.  I was indoctrinated into a system of sexual repression and class stratification which is anti-human.  And I was so confused about the ‘nature of reality’ that it took me decades to make sense of myself and my life.

I have now written the story of the first 39 years of my life, which is in the form of an autobiographical novel (or revised personal mythology), informed by various strands of psychology and philosophy.

Like most humans, I began this project with a problem.  We tend to repress all of our difficult memories out of conscious awareness.  And it is very difficult to dig them up and piece them together again.  This process is painful, but it is also curative.  Non-conscious memories tend to control our current moods, emotions and behaviours.  Once we make them conscious, we can digest them, reform them, and transcend them!

So I wrote the story of my humble origins in rural Ireland; the problem of being a poor, country boy (or virtual ‘hillbilly’) in a city school; the story of my (dysfunctional) relationship with my mother (and father); the story of my poor relationship with my older sister; my story of early working life; political involvement; military service; overseas work experience; love triangles; relationship breakups; mental confusion; stress management problems; and on and on.  I had to work very hard to access all those repressed memories; and to glue them together with bits of creative imagination; dream sequences; inferences; guesswork; and extrapolation from psychological theories and philosophical insights.

Apart from being my (very helpful, therapeutic, and self-healing) personal mythology, it is also an engaging story of a journey through life which is unlike any that I have ever encountered in novels, movies or TV dramas.  It is a unique kind of experience.  I hope you will give it a try, and that you enjoy it.

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Why bother reading this story?

People who have read earlier versions of this text have found it to be informative, educational, entertaining and inspiring.

It is also a good model for other people to follow in learning how to tackle the problem of how to write their own autobiography, for therapeutic or artistic purposes.

And, to the degree that you can identify with the main character, my alter ego – Daniel O’Beeve – you might also get in touch with some of your own buried grief and anger and stunted growth, and digest it, complete it, and transcend it!

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