Plumbing the Void

Palden at Bodrifty ancient village, West Penwith

At times I give out the wrong impression. When I write my blog or talk to people, I’m usually in an up state, so people get an up impression. But at present I am up for only about 5-6 hours each day, then I start drooping. The rest of the time I’m fatigued, flumped in bed, watching the birds outside my window or floating in the ethers. I didn’t know what fatigue was like until I got it. It’s not just serious tiredness: it’s a helpless, leaden megaflop. Time slows down and disappears. Brains clog up, and lifting an arm or keeping up a conversation becomes an act of will. But when I flop, it’s bliss. I float into faraway realms that, forty years ago, I strove hard to enter.

Cancer is a strange gift. It focuses you and rearranges all your priorities. You have to work at being alive. You find out what’s important. Things that used to worry you just evaporate. You have to focus on being with the cancer and also with the side-effects of medication. You find out who your real friends are. Some people you just can’t deal with any more – like those whose opening gambit is the inevitable ‘How are you?’ (for the umpteenth time today) or, rushing in and asking ‘Anything I can do to help?’, without realising that I’ll remember what I needed just after they’ve rushed away again! (Advisory: just observe the person, and take thoughtful initiatives.)

Talking of side-effects, I had reservations when the doctors gave Dexamethasone to Donald Trump – Dex is rather like cocaine. It has its virtues – it reduced my cancer, helped my back and was strengthening in effect. But I also became insensitive, detached, mental, badly behaved, retaliatory and prone to misjudging situations. This was upsetting to Lynne, who saw my glazed eyes and was shocked at my evasive unreceptivity, but at least I didn’t have the keys to a nuclear arsenal or the power to affect too many people. Giving Dex to Trump is a security risk. He says he ‘feels great’ – but he won’t when he comes off Dex. He’ll sink into post-Dex despond – equally dangerous.

Palden at Bodrifty, wondering about the flask of tea

I had a phone consultation with the haematologist. My results are good, better than expected – after all, I’ve been drooping and struggling recently. But I won’t need to go back on chemo and steroids for a while. There’s no remission with bone marrow cancer: you have to live with it and manage it until you pop your clogs. I’ve been helped by positive attitude, inner openness, exercise, rest, the love and care of Lynne (who comes every other weekend), Tulki (my son), a clutch of other goodly souls and the prayers of many people and beings (bless you all). I have twelve pill bottles next to my desk – antioxidants, vits, CBD oil and allsorts. I’m guzzling blueberry powder, ginseng, oils, beansprouts, colloidal silver, cider vinegar… it goes on.

But I never thought I’d get bored. This is weird. Usually I’m thinking, creating, churning out stuff – one of those who has no time for TV or gaming. Writing a book has helped immensely, except it’s finished and I’m now unexcitedly dragging through amendments and finding a publisher – and my usual strategy of going travelling or on a lecture tour after finishing a book is a thing of the past. I’ve been in confinement for a year now and I’m drying up.

Even so, it’s wonderful here on the farm and it nourishes me. I can prop myself up in bed and watch the buzzards through the big windows. I live in The Lookout, and that’s precisely what you do here. Insights come up while doing so. Lying in bed one day, I was doing my usual psycho-trick of looking for the gift in my situation and suddenly realised that I was, in a way, channelling collective fatigue. People are worn out and fed up, deep down. The Covid crisis was triggered on a Jupiter-Saturn-Pluto conjunction in Capricorn in late January, and this has dug up much deeper stuff than we’re aware of even now.

Doubts, guilt, fear, anticipation, insecurity about the past and future, and everything, really – personal, social and national issues. Astrologically, the lurking fear of the Great Unknown is a symptom of Neptune, the main driver of Covid as a global experience. It gives us a deep collective sense of vulnerability because we can’t nail down solutions, control the virus, find the escape hatch and restore normality. Neptune in Pisces wants us to see, to reconsider reality and reconfigure our perspective and roadmaps.

Worn out and wan at Boscawen-un stone circle

A spiritual crisis is going on (they call it ‘mental health’). What is my life for? What are we here for? What are, or were, truth and reality? Such questions have been studiously avoided for generations. There’s a stored-up reservoir of dread down there: perhaps everything has been in vain, perhaps we got it all wrong, perhaps it’s all going wrong. To avoid facing this, society deflects into blame, rebellion, compliance, complaint, argument, depression and desperately grasping for solutions that aren’t actually there.

Or at least, we aren’t finding what we think ought to be the solution. A solution where we don’t have to really change – others should change instead, not me, not us. But reality has changed. We’re faced with our fear of the Great Yawning Precipice. Things aren’t going back to normal. The situation we’re in is providing solutions we need, but we see it as a problem. This is an acceleration. We’re moving into a time where the future is causing the present more than the past is.

Covid is the first of many crises, and secretly we know it and need to get used to it. Change will come through a growing avalanche of events and conjunctures that no one thought possible, against which we are undefended. Like Covid. Totally unexpected situations are the mechanism by which radical change is likely to happen.

Not long ago I posted a video on FB in which a bunch of smiling Palestinians were saying ‘World, we know you’re going through a hard time – we understand you, and welcome to the club!‘. Palestinians, despite everything, are a bizarrely happy people compared to us. They’re not at all happy with their circumstances but, inside, they’ve accepted something about life that we have not. They’re still there despite everything. Meanwhile, in richer, declining countries like Britain, we stand on the edge of a precipice, complaining, and we’re scared shitless, pretending to be alright.

The Palestinian secret is sumud: stay on the case, tough it out and never give up. That’s how they lose battles while stopping their oppressors from winning the war. By degrees they have less fear, guilt and shame than people in countries like Britain. Here, we wet our knickers over face-masks, lockdowns and freedoms but we ain’t seen nothin’ yet. Covid forces us to face a dilemma that was creeping up on us anyway. Society was permitting it – surveillance, regulation, compliance, slavery to the megamachine, fear of rocking the boat, taking risks, losing income. The dilemma is about control, a primary issue in coming decades.

We have a choice: to get through the future, we humans need solidarity and cooperation from ground level up, and anyone who doesn’t join is, in effect, sabotaging humanity (sounds terrible, but there’s truth in it); on the other hand, Covid and digital technology are being used to curtail social and political freedoms, ramping up the matrix of control from the top down. Rebellious exceptionalism undermines the first option, and the second option, though Orwellian, is undermined by competition at a high level between clashing ideas and a splintered oligarchy. The world is rudderless, stuck in a logjam which only an overwhelming flood of stirring events can shake out. Covid is a practice run.

Fatigued and far away

I find my confinement manageable yet difficult, though it’s also fruitful. Alone (mostly) in a wooden cabin in paradise, watching and feeling the world, listening more closely to things than to people, I’m grateful to be alive. In my fatigued dream-states I tune into people who have it worse than me, like a man I know in Gaza who has cancer, no medicine and is getting bombed. I sit with people like him in the innerworlds.

Back in early August I woke up one day with a feeling that ‘if I hadn’t had treatment, this is the day I would have died’. The baby swallows from the barn, fluttering around outside, made me smile – today is the beginning of the rest of my life.And for all of us, today is the beginning of a new world. It doesn’t look like that, but remember: the computer you’re looking at has its origins in a disaster called World War Two. My late aunt Hilary was in Alan Turing’s team and she was one of the world’s first ever computer operators. They thought they were fighting Hitler – well, yes, but they were inventing the computer too, and in the fullness of history, that’s bigger. We think we’re ‘fighting Covid’ – well, yes, but something else is happening underneath, though it might take seventy years to realise what it has become.

Everything is okay in the end. If it’s not okay, it’s not the end. So hang in there. We’re on a mission and it’s gonna take a while. We’re working on historic matters, a turn-around in the very nature of civilisation. Everyone has a bit-part to play. Everyone is right and nobody is wrong, because we’re all playing parts in an enormous chessgame that is bigger than any of us can see. All of us, together, will decide the future of the world, whatever anyone thinks about elites, controllers, billionaires, conspiracies, reptilians… or fathers.

If, like me, you’re not that far from passing away, do you plan to leave this world behind when you go, or will you come back to see this planetary change-process through to its conclusion? One day, when the world is rendered safe and sound, there’s going to be a big, global party and, having come this far, I want to be there. Then, I’ll be happy to leave the future to others and go my way, relieved. Job done.

May the light of spirit bless us and keep us, and cause its light to shine through us and guide our way home.

Love you all, Paldywan Kenobi.

Photos by Lynne Speight, astrologer, photographer and handholder extraordinaire

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