Slay Your Dragons - Malcolm Stern

Navigating Life's Moral Mazes: The Beauty of Organ Donation, Prisoner Transformation, and Inner Growth

April 24, 2024 John
Navigating Life's Moral Mazes: The Beauty of Organ Donation, Prisoner Transformation, and Inner Growth
Slay Your Dragons - Malcolm Stern
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Slay Your Dragons - Malcolm Stern
Navigating Life's Moral Mazes: The Beauty of Organ Donation, Prisoner Transformation, and Inner Growth
Apr 24, 2024
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When faced with the chance to save a life through organ donation, what would you do? Wallee Mc Donnell, an old friend, navigated this moral maze and emerged as a kidney donor for an acquaintance, Nico Sikes. His stirring account opens our episode, painting a picture of the intense emotional landscape one crosses in making such a profound decision. Wally's narrative serves as a beacon, illuminating the power of compassion and the deep, often unexpected connections that can arise from a single act of profound generosity.

Venture with us to a place seldom associated with hope and transformation—a London prison—where the Peace Education Program is rewriting the stories of inmates. Through the shared exploration of dignity, choice, and inner strength, we witness a profound shift in men who society often overlooks. The program's volunteer facilitators guide us through moving discussions, revealing that beneath the exterior of incarcerated individuals lie reservoirs of untapped potential and a yearning for a life of meaning, highlighting the resilience of the human spirit even in the bleakest of environments.

Closing our episode, we shift the focus inward, contemplating the neglected art of nurturing our inner selves in a world that prizes material achievement. I share insights on the essential nature of inner peace and personal growth, and the way these pursuits can eclipse the allure of status or wealth. We discuss how cultivating life skills like compassion and kindness can lead to a more purposeful existence, and the importance of recognizing the unique beauty within ourselves and others. This episode promises a tapestry of tales that celebrate the quieter, yet equally impactful, contributions we all can make to the world around us.

This Podcast is sponsored by Onlinevents 

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Send us a Text Message.

When faced with the chance to save a life through organ donation, what would you do? Wallee Mc Donnell, an old friend, navigated this moral maze and emerged as a kidney donor for an acquaintance, Nico Sikes. His stirring account opens our episode, painting a picture of the intense emotional landscape one crosses in making such a profound decision. Wally's narrative serves as a beacon, illuminating the power of compassion and the deep, often unexpected connections that can arise from a single act of profound generosity.

Venture with us to a place seldom associated with hope and transformation—a London prison—where the Peace Education Program is rewriting the stories of inmates. Through the shared exploration of dignity, choice, and inner strength, we witness a profound shift in men who society often overlooks. The program's volunteer facilitators guide us through moving discussions, revealing that beneath the exterior of incarcerated individuals lie reservoirs of untapped potential and a yearning for a life of meaning, highlighting the resilience of the human spirit even in the bleakest of environments.

Closing our episode, we shift the focus inward, contemplating the neglected art of nurturing our inner selves in a world that prizes material achievement. I share insights on the essential nature of inner peace and personal growth, and the way these pursuits can eclipse the allure of status or wealth. We discuss how cultivating life skills like compassion and kindness can lead to a more purposeful existence, and the importance of recognizing the unique beauty within ourselves and others. This episode promises a tapestry of tales that celebrate the quieter, yet equally impactful, contributions we all can make to the world around us.

This Podcast is sponsored by Onlinevents 

Malcolm Stern:

So hi and welcome everybody to Slay your Dragons with Compassion. My podcast series done in conjunction with my good friends at online events. So we've done quite a number of these so far and I'm managing to find some really extraordinary people. Actually, they're often ordinary people who have extraordinary scenarios, which makes them extraordinary, and what we'll do is we'll go through an interview and today's guest is a good friend of mine from way back when called Wally McDonald, and Wally's got quite an extraordinary story to tell. So we'll go into that in some more depth, and the way that I often work with these scenarios is to not to plan in advance very much of what we're going to say, but more to find out what the dialogue brings us. So today's an opportunity for us to explore with a man who has done some quite outstanding things in his life, and we're going to hear about that, not in a very obvious way, not in a sort of a glitzy way, but in what I see as a very generous and selfless way. So, wally, welcome to our podcast.

Wallee Mc Donnell:

Very good to see you. Thank you, malcolm. Pleasure to be here. Great to see you again, as always, great.

Malcolm Stern:

And I think the first thing that sort of drew my attention to what you were about was when you gave a kidney to an acquaintance. It wasn't a close friend, it was a friend, but a sort of a more of an acquaintance who would have died without receiving a kidney, and you gave one of your kidneys. I mean, that's not like giving away a bag of sweets, that's really quite something, and I know you went through quite a lot afterwards in yourself. Can you tell us a little bit about that? And the series is called Slay your Dragon, so we're looking at some of the what you had to overcome to do what you do. What is it that led you to do that? Tell us the story and then tell us a bit about where that all sprang from and then tell us a bit about where that all sprang from.

Wallee Mc Donnell:

Well, I knew this person. Can I name him?

Malcolm Stern:

Yeah, yes please do.

Wallee Mc Donnell:

A lovely guy called Nico Sikes who was the manager of a holistic centre on the Greek island of Skyros, and I was cooking there for a number of years and a four with him as a manager, and we formed a friendship, a bond, a connection. That was mainly to do with our working relationship. That did spill over into a friendship. But he lived he's Dutch, but he lived permanently full time on the Greek island and carved out a life for himself there, permanently, full-time on the greek island, and carved out a life for himself there. Uh, primarily the fact that he worked for skills, holidays so got him an income and a role on the island and he was very connected with the village and uh, so, working with him, I found myself admiring his professional way he went in terms of greeting the guests and looking after each session with a certain focus. That was very professional. I moved on. I began working with him in 1993. I moved on after 1997 and came back to settle in London.

Wallee Mc Donnell:

We remained in touch on and off and I then periodically went out to the island just to have a holiday and we would see each other a little bit. I'm trying to really recall the date. It was really interesting because the Athens Olympics was in 2004. And I went out. I came out a little bit later yeah, it was then and I met him and he was very, very poorly and because he was like a guy who's six foot two, he's very tall, healthy guy living on the greek island, um, and he couldn't quite define what was the matter with him, but he wasn't eating well, he was very thin and this went on like spent time with him but also did my thing and came home, um, and in 2006 he contacted me which almost felt like out of the blue, but we always had a little contact to say that he had been diagnosed with renal failure and he was now back living in uh in the netherlands and uh are now on dialysis two or three times a week how often it happens. And and he was on a waiting list to receive a kidney, as many people are all over the world. And you know, I was really taken back because I didn't because I was such a serious condition I like threatening, conditioning really and just by sheer coincidence, I'm a real radio person. I was listening to um some radio programs. Within a matter of days it felt like maybe within a week or so, I can't remember exactly. Um, we're talking about 2006 now.

Wallee Mc Donnell:

Um, and they were, I suppose, testimonies or something. I guess I had to put it, but two stories of people who had donated kidneys to one was to a total stranger. I mean, it's a really extraordinary story about this man. He was a businessman living in Philadelphia. He would fly into New York and connect with this taxi driver and he became his regular taxi driver and we would pick him up and look after him while he was doing that work in new york. And then one time he came to new york and a relative picked him up and he said where's abdul, whatever his name was? So he's back in the lebanon and he's had kidney failure and he's having on dialysis there.

Wallee Mc Donnell:

And this man, who was a father with two or three kids, at some point along the way said, oh, and look, obviously researched it and said I'm going, I would like to make a kidney. I mean, that's just the condensed version of it and I thought, my god, somebody could do that. Within a few days I heard another story of these two friends and not relative, not family, but friends and same thing happened two ladies and they were young, in their 30s or 40s or something. And and I thought to myself, gosh, I could do this. What's stopping me? That was really the the first internal conversation I had. I contacted Nico and he was like, really moved by this proposal. I said I'm just, I'm thinking I'd like to give you one of my kidneys. It's a very doable thing. I'm well and um, he said okay, well, listen, think about it. But if you're going to take the step, the next step is go and talk to your doctor about it. So I did that, and then I went for various tests and like that.

Wallee Mc Donnell:

And then I flew over to the netherlands and did more tests and you can psychological tests about sound of mind and uh, and finally it was a agree, a date was agreed, everything was set up with the surgeon, everything, and it took place in I think it was july 2007 and it was the last, uh, surgical procedure that this doctor was going to do before he went on holidays. And I'd time I had a job at this point now I'm running music events so I had a seasonal work where I was putting on weekly musical events, but we stopped for the summer, so I had to coincide it with that and um, yeah, I went over. Um, my family were against it, a lot of my friends were against it, saying it's too risky. You know, you're in your 50s, I think it's like you know, I guess I was in the 50s, um, but um, I kind of was, I kind of felt appalling to do it at this point. I kind of felt I made something that happened inside of me to go ahead with it.

Wallee Mc Donnell:

Um, when I arrived in the netherlands for nico was extremely ill and they didn't even know if they could go ahead with the operation. His blood pressure was high, he was very skeletal, kind of. I went to see him in the hospital and he was like thin as a rake and finally they did enough procedures that he was brought to a level where he was able to receive the kidney. The operation took place. I never felt any moment of concern or worry till the night before the operation, when I suddenly start to feel a bit of panic and I had to ask for a sedative or injection to calm me down. And yeah, so it all went very, very well. I learned much, much later that we were just barely a match. I didn't realize that at the time and, like I didn't, didn't retain that information, or maybe it wasn't passed on, I can't remember, because we were.

Wallee Mc Donnell:

It was about the euphoria of that successful operation and Nico coming back to life, and it was. It was a, it was a kind of a comical period where I came out of hospital after a week, he came out of hospital after two weeks and we were living together, but my body was, you know, in shock and I was finding it hard to walk because of where the kidney operation takes place the keyhole surgery thing, by the way and so he came out of hospital and he started cooking for me. It was because I wasn't, I was, he was, I was less able-bodied than him at the point. Then it reversed, reversed as I, my body, kicked in and came back together and um, and of course that resulted in a new form of our relationship, that tie in that kind of um, uh, you know, unique circumstances that brought us together and um, he um started to, you know, be be weller and weller and weller again, until eventually I think it was like a year later he went back to live on skios again, where there was enough, he had enough medication and enough support from the medical center on the island to sustain his life and every so often he would go back for, uh, checkups and adjustments to his medication.

Wallee Mc Donnell:

So, yeah, it was, I would say. I would say it was definitely an emotional experience. I didn't say it was almost a spiritual experience, because I felt I gained something which I couldn't put into words and, um, that was beyond him thanking me. It was something else and, uh, and at the same time, I to say I felt humbled by the fact that this could happen, I could do this, and it also gave me more courage because I took a step out of you know thing, out of my normal routine, and since there was a certain amount of risk involved and they go through that with you, so and but I have to say I've been perfectly healthy ever since, and that operation happened in 2007. You know, so, yeah, so that's been a story. That is pretty extraordinary. Say I've been perfectly healthy ever since.

Malcolm Stern:

Another operation happened in 2007, you know so, yeah, so that's been a story that is pretty extraordinary and I think what what's interesting is that you're finding what goes on beyond the obviousness, the obviousness of here's you giving a part of your body to, to a sort of a friend but not a close friend, but a friend and um, and then there are hidden things that happen as well. There's a sort of sense of of finding in that selflessness that it's almost like you get a spiritual gift from the universe which is like, which is like payback. You don't do it for that reason, obviously, but there's, it's almost like an unbidden something that happens and it it changes you. When you do something like that, I presume it changes you and it's. I remember hearing about it and thinking that's quite extraordinary that you would do that, and it's like I know that people have bought to doing that with family members.

Wallee Mc Donnell:

But to do that for sort of a.

Malcolm Stern:

A friend is quite something. And yeah, sorry, what are you? What are?

Wallee Mc Donnell:

you going to say I wasn't going to say anything? Continue.

Malcolm Stern:

So I think what's interesting is that your life has been. It seems to me and I've known you many, many years over various periods of your life that there's quite a lot of service in your life, and it seems like you've. I'm reminded I think I've quoted this before, but Rabindranath Tagore's saying that I slept and dreamt that life was joy. I woke and found that life was service. I acted, behold, service was joy. And and there is something about the joyfulness that you get, because I know now you're doing quite a lot of work in prisons, with, with prisoners, and can you tell us a little bit about that also?

Wallee Mc Donnell:

well, yeah, I'm delighted to do it. I'm, I have to say it's again, it's a very moving experience. Um, I'm helping facilitate something called peace education program in two prisons in london and the peace education. It kind of kicked off in america and um, it was picked up here, especially in right in relation to um prisons in particular. But it's, it's it. It happens outside I'm delivering it locally in Brixton, where I live, to bereaved mothers.

Wallee Mc Donnell:

Actually, at the moment, um, what I think is fascinating is the human being and all the journeys, because the people who come on the sessions that I go, that I'm involved with and helping with as a volunteer and I go in with two other people, um, uh, the age group I'd say is around 30 to 60, something like that. So you have a lot of mature men who have got a certain baggage and history of probably poor choices and bad influences, a whole gamut of things, but who are interested in seeing can they change, can they do something that will inspire them, can they get, uh, some, you know, a sparking of light coming into their life. But what is amazing about the course and why I like it so much is and we show some video clips on different themes like choice, dignity, hope, peace, inner strength, and the facilitator's role is not to say that much, but almost welcome. Thoughts, experiences, thoughts, triggers that might come up in the video, and their discussion, their interaction, the dynamics that happen, is where the learning happens. And, having said that, what I'm observing is the person.

Wallee Mc Donnell:

I'm seeing, a person again who's now talking about life in a different way than maybe they might do on the wing, you know, with their cell buddy, and because it's very reflective about the essence of life on one form or another, and and they'll talk about past experiences, but they'll also talk about, um, they've just gleaned something about a bit of, a bit of a nugget of wisdom that they could take away with them, but they're also sharing that with one another, and that is the beauty of that, of those courses. But I'm also seeing it's interesting, malcolm, because I know you've run many courses for men I'm also seeing men that are lovely human beings. I'm seeing that aspect as well, that maybe I'm seeing their vulnerability too, in a small way, as they drop their guard, and that is very moving because you know us guys, we don't talk about feelings so much, and so I'm seeing them.

Malcolm Stern:

These are guys with criminal records, with difficult histories, you know I think it's interesting because I think, as you say, maybe we're seeing their vulnerability, but actually what you're doing is you're allowing their vulnerability to be in place and to be expressed, and we look at a prison system that feels very barbaric. In many ways it's very punitive. It takes away the dignity from human beings, and sometimes those human beings have done terrible things and locking them away feels like the only way that society can stay safe. But there is also something about the possibility of re-education, which I guess is you're playing your part in the re-education of the prison system and what you're seeing is the result of that that you see human beings who have are retaining their dignity through allowing their vulnerability to explore a part of themselves yeah, absolutely.

Wallee Mc Donnell:

Um, they start to see, um, a better side of themselves. They start to see, think about, um, a life that's more rich, that that they probably could never have thought was possible because, um, their life was fragmented by things they were doing socially and family and that. But also how they're going out, making money mostly to do with that. You know, maybe something has to do with domestic violence as a whole. We don't ask them what they, what their crimes are. Sometimes it comes up but it is seeing potential, that they see their potential. That's what they see. They have a potential that there's a life ahead still and that's very rewarding to see that.

Wallee Mc Donnell:

But they you know we don't say you should do this, no, when they start articulating that in malcolm, that's when it's really like because it's their journey. It's their journey, you know, I'm I, I'm just part of that session for those two hours, but every time I come away moved, every time, and shaking hands at the end of the session and the thanks they give us is so genuine because they have felt something, through the combination of all the things that happen in the session, that affects them and they take it back and they often say, because we do one sessions on a friday and it all says it makes the weekend because it puts such a good vibe for the weekend. Because that what you said that idea of locking people up for the mental health stuff that goes on is difficult because we're dealing with the mind. The mind's a difficult animal to handle, you know.

Malcolm Stern:

If it's kind of nagging at you all the time, things like that, you know, well, it's interesting because I've often said that the core essence of psychotherapy is love, and actually, if we allow ourselves to truly love, then we allow ourselves to do things that go way outside the grain. And what I'm hearing is that these people's lives are touched in that moment. They're touched and it feels like you have found some purpose in your life, which isn't about I'll become a big businessman or I'll do this or I'll become famous or anything else. The purpose is to bring transformation where you can, and I don't think that's too strong a word. I think you are obviously impacting on people's lives who are incredibly disadvantaged the thought of being locked up, the claustrophobia of it, as you say, the mental health issues that arise from it. But what you're bringing is this wonderful, wonderful word, hope, and, as someone was saying the other day in a group, without hope, what's, what's the point?

Wallee Mc Donnell:

I like the two words you've used there hope as well. Of course there's a fantastic meaning to hope, um, but love is something that we probably wouldn't say. But really you're starting to touch on that. That's what. That's what's kind of beginning to filter through, because it's not a word they would use. You know, maybe loving their existence or feeling love towards another human being, but it's filtering through, but that word they wouldn't use. But actually you hit something on the nail there by saying that word transformation is the other key word. Totally um, because, um, they had an opinion of themselves that would be, you know, set, not say set in stone, but it kind of established itself in themselves. And yet they start to see and they'll say that, let's say I'm the one guy we ask. I think I asked there'll be any of the session. I had a question. I was friday of last week. I have to question um, what um?

Wallee Mc Donnell:

Was any particular person or anything that that you can recall, that left an impression with you in a good way. Some person in your life and there was a lot of them talked about their family, actually, and our moms in particular. But one guy said this group I'm really hearing other men and he's like about he's in his 50s, this guy, lovely guy, and he said this group I'm hearing because he's probably he's hearing that they're they're giving him permission to say what he's going to say on a more softer level than he already had, but he wouldn't come out with it and that's what he was saying, you know. So, yeah, um, what, how they proceed after they leave their sentence completed? I don't know if I'll try and see if they can keep in touch, but it doesn't always happen. I'm trying to organize something better for that by taking their details down if they want to give them, and so I can follow up with them.

Malcolm Stern:

Um, but yeah, it's um, it's bringing light into a dark place and, uh, it it's, it's a joy, it really is a joy being part of it, you know and, in a small way, we're looking at the uh, the, the the macrocosm of the world and the microcosm the microcosm of the world and the macrocosm that the world can be a very dark place. There are some very dark things to go on around us and, and if we can bring lights, we are playing a small part in trying to change our evolutionary future, which I think is where we're headed as human beings, hopefully I agree we are.

Malcolm Stern:

I think we are it's just.

Wallee Mc Donnell:

It's just that we'd like it to happen in our lifetime, I think, malcolm, but it may not. But there is. There is a propensity or a movement towards that. You know, because if you think about the laws are trying to bring in, they're always trying to bring a law that includes this group and that group and stops these kind of bad things happening, whether it's on social media or not. Make more things better for people to move around, you know. But I think, as you as a psychotherapist know, that the battle is with each individual and how people play that out.

Wallee Mc Donnell:

Some people go and do shocking things. I was watching you may not have done it, but I was watching because I'm doing stuff with the police as well. So I'm trying to get a peace course and they've agreed to run a peace course. I'm just going to get the dates down. I'm going to do a peace course because the courses that kind of encourage people to get in touch with your humanity. If you're in touch with your humanity, you'll start to see the other person in a different way.

Wallee Mc Donnell:

Okay, some criminals are already gone down to a very dark space, so they have to be strong and deal with that. You know, because some of the violence that happens is brutal, but generally you have it, it's a place, you have a uniform. They can see the public differently than then, because they become a club in themselves, um and their team, almost like they back each other up. But to understand that the people are more than the who they see, you know, because we're there's a tendency to classify people and things, but we are these beings that are on these journeys that are only 50, 60, 70, 80 years, you know, and we. The whole story is to know yourself, and I know you do that work. So and so important, it's so important to know yourself, you know.

Malcolm Stern:

It's funny, as you say, that I'm reminded of a song that goes I'm on an endless journey through eternity. Peace be still. There is nowhere to rush, yeah.

Wallee Mc Donnell:

And I see that you've got.

Malcolm Stern:

It seems like you've found the real place of peace, Wally, which is something I'm very aware of in you. Whenever I see you, I'm aware there's a peacefulness around you that you seem to have found. You found your purpose, which I think is key, and you probably had to slay some dragons along the way and I wonder what? What?

Wallee Mc Donnell:

that like um, that's really true and actually you know something. I'll just say it's interesting. You just said I I was just came back from the hague last night where we were invited to show off this documentary. I was telling you about Power to Change at a conference for parole and probation. It's an international conference in the Hague over three days and coming back on the Eurostar train, I was with three other colleagues and something was happening that I couldn't be part of their conversation because it was happening so fast and I can't speak.

Wallee Mc Donnell:

I got older, I can't speak very, very quickly, like I can't do that. I want to be in, stay in touch with the slower bit of myself. But it made me face something inside myself and I came back thinking my god, I've had to just deal with some kind of thing that went on inside my being in my head while I was sitting. These people no, they didn't know what was going on, but I was going through something. Well, I had to. Well, if I was to backtrack a bit, I, if I think about even moving from ireland to england and all the things I've done there's often been a case where I felt this is not happening, nothing, something, something's not happening. Something's stuck, something I need to move on. But the next step is risky. What will happen? And, um, I took a lot of risks at different points. Maybe compared to somebody else they weren't so great, but they were risks I've taken and each time I've taken, my being has opened up because I've met new people. I've had to learn how, I've learned how to listen to them and I've learned how to kind of respond to questions that were different to how I was brought up in terms of the kind of language we use, growing up on the back streets of Dublin to people who are more educated university educated and learning to talk and communicate with them. You know, there's been things you know and the classic one is you know relationships. If that didn't work, why it didn't work.

Wallee Mc Donnell:

And I really think also going to Skiros to help me a lot, because there was something reflective about Skiros. Okay, I was one of the permanent members of staff, so delivering a service, cooking food, but at the same time, we were part of the bubble, which was self being self-reflective and being being able to listen to yourself and understand parts of yourself that you wouldn't normally address and express them. That was the beginning of me learning that I had to begin this road of facing myself. And there's been loads of things, like when I think of you know, know, every time I went to Skiros, when I came back I didn't know where to live. I was that I abandoned that kind of security blanket so I'd go back and would I come back next year. But I came back and I had to scramble and find a job, find a place every time and as I was getting older, you know, it just became harder. Like um, there was uh, where I'm living now in this, it's almshouse in in um in uh, lambeth in brixton and um, uh, well, how? So there's an anniversary.

Wallee Mc Donnell:

I was 200 years old and so there's an exhibition. That happened, yes, on thursday, but I was in the hague and this guy who was doing the exhibition managed to get the bbc to write something about it, and I'm one of the people who was doing the exhibition, managed to get the BBC to write something about it and I'm one of the people who featured of the 17 residents. I was agreed to be interviewed and featured and it said it's one thing in the recording he made of me was I was homeless, and I was homeless before I got this place and, like you know, I'm like 72 now, so I became homeless at a certain age, threw up all kinds of challenges about failure and what's your family think about what kind of life you've been on, and, yes, you're interested in peace, but what? What's? What kind of decisions making, and so there's been lots of incrementally challenging moments.

Malcolm Stern:

Malcolm, like a person, well, it's interesting because you say, yes, you're interested in peace, but actually you've invested your life in peace, you've invested your life in healing, and life has also. It can be a bit twee and can be a bit sort of new age thinking to say life has also looked after you. But here you are. You found yourself a lovely flat at a very, very peppercorn type of rent. So life has actually created a space where you you're not homeless, where you actually do have a place to rest your head as well and to carry on doing what it is you do, and what it is you do clearly brings you joy, but also brings a great sense of healing to the people that you work with. And what's, what's your future plans of along these lines, wally?

Wallee Mc Donnell:

Well, just to start with, you said it a couple of times now and I haven't really responded to this thing about me and peace. And it's true because I really need to be, because I feel like I haven't had the maturity of my mental capability, capacities, to figure out life, so I've really had to approach it with which where I found a strength, which is with my heart, with the inner peace thing, and that's helping me by giving me a certain amount of joy which I can go about being loving and friendly to people and I really enjoy it and you know, and, uh, it's a nice attribute that's grown in me, you know, yeah, so okay, so that's it. So peace does matter to me every single day, even after this course, I'm going to have a shower and I'm going to practice before I go out and, uh, my the, you know, practice I do, and, um, but looking ahead, I really, really this sounds crazy, but I really want to make a difference in london now, not on my own, absolutely not, but with the connections I'm making. I'm connecting with superintendents and commanders and the police. I'm connecting with the council people. I'm reaching out to the violence prediction unit a lot of different. I'm going to meetings all the time to hear what's been said, but also kind of assimilated and talking about what I'm doing.

Wallee Mc Donnell:

But because this area, malcolm, about being in touch with yourself, connecting, looking out for inner peace, it's still not really on the radar, as you and I know, as people make rules and regulations for life and try and sort out the homelessness and this, that the other, the idea of an inner awareness, inner peace, is still kind of it's more familiar now because a place like skiros and people like yourself, uh, addressing people's needs who come to you for help and advice, but it's still not in all the machinations go on, it's still not something people see. There's a value in it and that's one that's. My vision is to try and find ways to get that conversation in a more people will start taking on board as something that may be to be considered, as something that humanity could deal with and try it out in small pockets here and there and see what the results will be, that kind of thing.

Malcolm Stern:

So I have a kind of a bit of an ambitious drive, but yeah, Well, it's interesting you use the word ambition there well as well, because what I see is that there's a great deal of humility around you, and I'm not saying I don't want to sort of have you sort of go no, no, no, not me, but but actually there is a great deal of humility and I think, at the end of the day, most of us who are involved with with growth, with potential, with with psychological change, are looking at how we can make a difference in the world, and the more we trumpet it often, the less difference we make. It's like an old saying may a man be judged by his actions, not by his words. And what I'm hearing is that your actions are very much matched your philosophy, and you are actually going through life doing the best you can do as this individual, in this temporary body which will, like all of our bodies, dissolve and decay and die. But you're doing what you can in this period and I don't think you know a lot of.

Malcolm Stern:

My father used to say to me son, where's your ambition? You know, because he thought I should be making lots of money, but actually I was ambitious as you. You're ambitious, but I think the ambition is to actually be used by life in a meaningful way, and it keeps vibrant. It keeps us.

Wallee Mc Donnell:

I think it keeps us youthful as well, if we have yes, I mean you said the word purpose that I have found my purpose and my purpose is is around people, is talking to people and know people.

Wallee Mc Donnell:

And it's interesting because I live in quite a larger black community, an area of large black community, and so getting into that, getting kind of like making the connections, getting kind of accepted, has been um, has taken time, but it's happening, um with them and because they have their own way of communicating, especially especially somewhere like Britain, which is a solid Afro-Caribbean area. And yeah, I'm really enjoying the fun of it, the excitement of communicating on something at such a profound level with them, without bamboozling them with notions of something that they have to adhere to, bamboozling them with notions of something that they'd have to adhere to, but just telling them about introducing the idea about how special they are, because a lot of people don't think they are because they're not doing well successfully and they have. You know everybody's full of worries about this, that, the other, but there's also a joy within and to have that as part of the equation of your journey, you look at life a little bit differently and there'll be more gratitude there, which I think um is something that's it's not being taught. It's not being encouraged. You know, even schools, you know and and and things like things.

Wallee Mc Donnell:

I feel like less what you got life skills not really being taught in schools and people come out and they know, they have their phones, they don't need to make money, but they're not learning to deal with disappointments, conflicts, how to understand the other. You know, and this is something that you know really needs looking at actually, to be honest, Mainly we have to educate ourselves, so our life skills are born by our education of ourselves.

Malcolm Stern:

But what a shame the relationship skills are not taught in schools. What a shame that actually we're not taught about compassion or kindness. That that's part of our agenda and, uh, and I do think that will probably change, hopefully, in our lifetime, but who knows um. But I do see that what we can do is keep doing whatever it is we do to bring the best of ourselves. To this, as mary oliver puts it, one wild and precious life, yeah, so well, yeah, at the end of our to this, as Mary Oliver puts it, one wild and precious life, yeah, so well yeah, at the end of our time together and I just really want to.

Malcolm Stern:

I want to thank you very much for your contribution. I think, um, I want to thank you, a contribution to this podcast, but also your contribution to life, and I've been very aware of you over the last few decades.

Wallee Mc Donnell:

But actually you have been so smoothing, smoothing the surfaces of the places you touch yeah, I do want to do that and, um, and I do want people to see something more in themselves and maybe they're aware of you know, how much they're earning their money in a pocket and the status they have in their job. But there's something simple and beautiful inside of them that um, uh, to have a little window to explore that. They'll have to do it, they'll have to do, you know, but, yeah, yeah. So thank you for inviting me. It's always a pleasure to talk to you, always has been. You know, we have this lovely connection and I'm really grateful for skills, because I find the skills community also also has a certain softness with one another, which doesn't always be there in other scenarios, you know, which I really appreciate, you know.

Malcolm Stern:

That's very lovely. Thank you so much, wally, and thank you so much for taking part in this, and thank you so much I'll send you, as we thank you thank you very much pleasure. Bye for now. Thanks, wally, bye, bye.

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