It’s funny how we know things.
A few people have remarked how Lynne and I have been comparatively unfazed by the discovery, just one month ago, that I have bone marrow cancer. Well, both of us indeed were fazed and deeply shocked – this was not on our roadmap – but, in another way, neither was it a total surprise.
The first concrete symptoms came up in late August when I cracked my back while gardening. I went to an osteopath and this helped, but soon I deteriorated. A soul-sister, Miriam, a psychic surgeon, successfully sorted me out, and this lasted some days and then I got even worse. Then Simon, a cranial osteopath, helped a lot, but there came a point where, perceptively, he said that something more was wrong than he could fix. I went to hospital for tests and that’s when the diagnosis eventually came.
But we knew. The first signs were back in January 2019. I was labouring, struggling, melancholic and lost. Nothing specific was wrong except my money situation, but my spirits and inner resilience were losing ground. With an ominous feeling of dread, I felt unable to lift myself out of a mud-bound feeling of stuckness – sandbanked though not quite on the rocks. I was going nowhere except down.
By May 2019 things got worse: I had an increasingly sinking feeling – one of those where, the more you try to raise yourself up, the more you seem to sink back into a hole. I live on hope and have considerable resilience, but this was getting at me in a deep place.
There’s more. With my prehistoric research, I knew I had to assemble more evidence. This detailed, meticulous work just had to be done before I could progress with drawing conclusions from the research. From May to August I slogged away on mapping the ancient sites of West Cornwall. I was driven, doing long hours. I did get it finished – just one week before I damaged my back. Something in me had known that, if I didn’t get the work done, it wouldn’t get done. I didn’t know why – I just knew. It was a relief to complete it.
When the cancer diagnosis eventually came in November, I was deeply shocked and yet, in another way, relieved. Relieved because, suddenly, I knew at last what the problem was. The cancer had been developing for some time, unbeknownst to me – and yet somehow I knew this.
There’s a lesson to draw from this. We modern, socialised, educated Westerners have had the knowingness drilled out of us. We override our instincts and intuitions with reasons, rationales, analyses, plans, excuses and science. We do what we’re told, for the reasons we’re given, even when we know it’s better to do otherwise. We do this even when giving birth to our chidren, even when it hurts, even when it harms others or ruins our world. The over-consumptive institution of Christmas provides a very good example of this kind of willful self-destruction.
It took until I was 42 to give myself permission to open up to the knowingness within me. That’s a long time: over-educated, it took twenty years of painful experiences, crises and inner work before I got it. I can’t call myself proficient even now but, since then, I have followed a simple rule, and I commend it to you for your consideration. Here it comes. It’s dead simple.
If it lifts you up, do it. If it weighs you down, reconsider. Reconsider really seriously. This is no joke. It’s not a spare-time activity. It isn’t actually even an option. It concerns our life-purpose and whether or how much we will fulfil it. It concerns our and others’ happiness and the success of any venture we undertake. It’s a methodology, not an ideal.
We do know things. Events or the words or actions of people put it in front of us, full square – but we often know the truth before this happens. So it’s helpful to pay attention, because it helps us get the message life is telling us. I knew I was going downhill nearly a year ago. And the bizarre thing is, when I was given the truth, the diagnosis, it was a relief.
Which goes to show that, for growing souls like you and me, with a glimmer of awareness, the buildup to a crisis is bigger, worse and more threatening than the crisis itself. When crisis really comes, we can pull out the stops and go for broke – 100% commitment to facing the facts.
This gives hope for the future. Because we humans, here on Earth, have a big one coming. When crisis really hits us, miracles become possible. We can break the rules and change the game. Live or die, this is what I am now setting out to do. Somehow I knew I was approaching point like this. And now the chips are down.
Your friend, Palden.
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