First I Dreamt the Journey – Part 1 – The Old Man

It is good to know,” said the old man as he stood on the hill top looking out over the valley to the mountains beyond, “that all this belongs to us.” His younger companion had become used to statements like this. He knew them to be completely untrue because the old man appeared to own little more than the clothes he stood up in. Notwithstanding that, he had about him an aura of contentment which was both admirable and enviable.

The young man, although having an outward appearance of success, was troubled; he desperately wanted to achieve inner peace. Surely, he felt, associating himself with the old man would cause that aura to rub off. Therefore he was moved to seek out the old man’s company.

They walked this particular route often, from the old man’s cottage, tucked away at the end of the lane, up through the woods and out onto the ridge.
Sometimes they stopped there on the bench looking back over the village to the city in the distance. On clear days they could see as far as the airport on the opposite hill and, although the sound rarely carried, there was something strangely relaxing about watching the planes come and go. More often, like today, they walked on along the ridge to the place where they currently sat, sheltered from the breeze by the cairn at their backs, and looking up the valley which marked the path of the river, to the place where the sun would eventually set.

On these occasions the young man was content to let the old man talk. He did not really understand why that was so. In the rest of his life he was pushy, opinionated, forward, extrovert – never short of something to say. But in the old man’s company he was prepared to listen. Even if the stories were sometimes repetitive and even if, on occasion, they appeared to be contradictory.

“Today,” the old man said, “I want to tell you a story, and because it is just that, a story you will be able to listen differently.” The young man was intrigued; excited even. This was a change from their normal conversations. He settled himself comfortably, took a few deep breaths and felt himself begin to relax. He felt able to put aside those parts of his conscious mind which interpret and analyse and reject. He was comfortable, he felt in a safe place. He allowed his mind to float free.

“Allow my voice to take you on a journey,” said the old man and as he continued with those magic words “Once upon a time” the young man felt parts of himself, grateful to be free, drift away, drift back down the ridge to the bench and tuck themselves away in a hollow. He knew they would be safe there. He knew he could pick them up when he walked back down to the village.


 For those of you who prefer the spoken word  – 



22 Responses to “First I Dreamt the Journey – Part 1 – The Old Man”

  1. christine Says:

    It is going to be so good for me to be able to study this book in a controlled way. I have worked my way through it a section at a time but I can still get impatient and move on before I am ready.

    This beginning takes me back to the time before I got sober. When I was almost ready to surrender. I knew there was something I was looking for but didnt know what. I know now I had been looking for a long, long time. I know that I was desparate to be where the young man was, in a place where he had become open to receive the old man’s experiences and to believe that there was a truth out there for him to take hold of.

    I remember thinking it wasn’t possible for me to change. When you questioned this you asked me why and I said “my mum is highly strung and that’s why I am. Coming to believe that change was possible took a long time and hard work.

    This kind of visualisation makes it so much easier to carry a picture in my head of where Iam at and how to go about doing the next right thing.

    It is a wonderful feeling becoming open to change and the process towards it. Ity is very freeing and I can see what the old an was doing when pointing out the valleys and mountains and comenting on how it belongs to us all, a difficult concept for the young man at this stage but it didnt deter him.

    I can well remember my moment of clarity. In itself it was an insignificant moment, or that is what thought. b Little did I know it was a very significant and vital beginning to my path of recovery.

    Thank you David, this is going to be great.

    • belfastdavid Says:


      Your response re-assures me that this serialisation is going to work. The book was designed to encourage the reader to stop and reflect on their own experience at each stage, but I can understand the desire, with book in hand, to read on. Not that I am suggesting you can be impatient you understand 🙂

      I remember challenging your belief that you could not change – it had to be challenged – it was keeping you stuck. The truth, of course, is that we are all capable of change, but it requires faith and, as you say, hard work. And enough self love to be prepared to put in the hard work.

      And I smile at your words”insignificant moment” That is why it is good to reflect – then we see the significance of those moments.

      I hope you continue to get much from this process.


  2. christine Says:

    lots of love



  3. Moments of clarity epiphanies.. oh how thick and rich this is I am thrilled you are posting it David

  4. Hi David,

    I really like this introduction. I guess I relate to it a lot. It’s a scene I find easy to visualise. I used to spend a lot of time sitting up on a cliff, the rocks and ocean beneath me and the suburbs just behind me, but if I positioned myself just so, those homes, people, distractions disapeared.

    This introduction always takes me back there to that place. To my own situation of surrender where mental health seemed impossible to maintain. The life changes and health changes I needed to make elusive, until that moment when inwardly the switch flipped and not answers but acceptance that life would change, would not be the same because I was committed to wanting that filled me so strongly. I was preapred to listen, prepared to be wrong and prepared to move forward.

    I’m looking forward to part 2 and to being able to go through this slowly and thoughfully in a different way from just sitting on my lounge room floor.

    Thankyou for sharing this with everyone. 🙂

    Take good care

    • belfastdavid Says:


      What a wonderful response.

      You, in turn, take me back to the Friday night when I went to bed in complete despair and woke up the next morning at peace with the world. I might say I did nothing to cause the change but, of course, what I had done was surrender. And it was that surrender which allowed me to move forward. Without it nothing would have been possible. 🙂

      You take good care of yourself


  5. Found it. Good start. 🙂

  6. Enjoyed every word…excellent my friend

  7. I have now seen the video. I will be watching it again and again just for the wonderful smile! You smile with your eyes, you always have done. I love it!

    lots of love xxx

  8. David,

    I have to confess, I didn’t expect to find much new from the book to here. I was wrong. Sometimes words are like cooking–you have to allow the soup to simmer to get the best flavor. Also, I can’t imagine how I missed so many of your finely tuned metaphors when I read these same lines in the book. Well done!

    The video, too, is appreciated. You do have a wonderful voice for literature readings, and your accent lends flavor to the words.

    I am looking forward to future posts, and I will resist the urge to “peek forward” in the book.


    • belfastdavid Says:

      Hi Shirley,

      I love your soup simmering metaphor – some words are indeed like that 🙂

      And I do recognise missing things on one reading. With books that are special to me I read them time and time again. Often I will be left staring at a page and thinking “Who put those worde in? – They weren’t there the last time I read it!!” 🙂

      I am not sure whether to continue with videos for future sections – we shall see.

      And I hope you do resist the urge to “peek” 🙂

      Take care of yourself


  9. could picture all very well … nicely done on the scene-setting. also, familiar with notion of listening being a matter of what, not degrees of patience from the listener. worthy is exquisitely subjective.

  10. Really looking forward to the rest, David, and it was great to see and hear you reading it. Again, the serialization really is the perfect format for this. And if I can add a little nudge – more video readings would only enhance the enjoyment of the book.


  11. Written and spoken: Hooray! You are a storyteller’s storyteller. There’s nothing more to say. Brilliant. No need to yammer on. You could be Jewish – there’s storytelling in our DNA.

    • belfastdavid Says:

      🙂 I have always regarded myself as a story teller first and a poet second Leeza.

      As for story telling in DNA – I am Irish after all!! 🙂

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