Well, it’s a bit like that. For those of you who are interested, here’s the latest lowdown.
Sunday morning, wet and windy here in Cornwall. Early on, and Dr Isaac and I were dealing with an emergency, yet again, on Skype. We’ve become quite a team, he and I.
Felicia is hanging in there, just about. We had to take her back to hospital last night for intensive care, and a doctor there has allowed it on promise of payment later, bless him. Dr Isaac has sold his TV and sound system this morning to pay for oxygen and a drip. He’s such a dedicated doctor. I am sniffing around amongst contacts in the NGO sector, to see if there’s a good job waiting for him somewhere – he’s a true asset and he deserves better. He and his family risk having an Unhappy Christmas, though if I can change that, I shall. They are looking after Phyllis, who is doing well, and she’s a good kid too, and everyone loves her. We need to get her Mum Felicia back.
This is sharp-edged stuff. It’s really testing our mettle and our capacity to keep finding remarkable solutions. But we’re also both weary, fed up and in debt. Something needs to change now.
As you might imagine, this has been an enormous learning experience. It started with my doing a return favour for one of the company’s agents, to get him out of a tight scrape. Then it mushroomed from there. Quite a few people have been questioning whether I’m getting things right – to be honest, I don’t know, and we shall see. But I feel it’s right to keep these people alive.
So now it is a waiting game. Mercifully, my beating heart works well under pressure, and I’m not unused to being under fire. Though one thing we cancer patients have is greater sensitivity to and higher impacts from life’s buffetings, as if a layer of emotional armouring has been stripped away and we’re less protected. I’ve realised this in the last year since I became a single man again – fewer fallbacks, everything is up to me.
My response to this vulnerability has been a greater readiness to get down to the bottom line faster than before. Perhaps there’s a certain aged recklessness too, that comes when you know you’re in last-chance saloon and your time is limited. So, in a way, within the scope of the capacities I have left, I guess I’m playing for high stakes.
I’ve dealt with one-to-three crises every day for two rather long months, with no days off, unpaid, and I’m still in the running. Phew. I do want a rest and a break – even, dare I say it, some fun! But while Felicia, Phyllis and Isaac are in trouble, whatever anyone says, I’m staying with them. It means a lot to me, and I’m willing to lose friends over it – probably already have. This crunch period of the last week has really made me get down to first principles. What is my life about, really?
A friend in Nova Scotia, Susan, who has recently been my chief confidante, sent me a really pertinent lesson, written by someone called Paul Weinfield. Here are key lines from it.
“Leonard Cohen said his teacher once told him that, the older you get, the lonelier you become, and the deeper the love you need. This is because, as we go through life, we tend to over-identify with being the hero of our stories. This hero isn’t exactly having fun: he’s getting kicked around, humiliated and disgraced. But if we can let go of identifying with him, we can find our rightful place in the universe, and a love more satisfying than any we’ve ever known. Everyone from CEOs to wellness-influencers thinks the Hero’s Journey means facing your fears, slaying a dragon, and gaining 25k followers on Instagram. But that’s not the real Hero’s Journey.
“In the real Hero’s Journey, the dragon slays YOU. Much to your surprise, you couldn’t make that marriage work. Much to your surprise, you turned forty with no kids, no house and no prospects. Much to your surprise, the world didn’t want the gifts you proudly offered it.
“But if you are wise, you will let yourself be shattered and return to the village, humbled, but with a newfound sense that you don’t have to identify with the part of you that needs to win, needs to be recognised, needs to know. This is where your transcendent life begins.“
Gosh, well, yes. That hit me right on the nose! Yes, and that’s life. Planet Earth is a school – for some of us a real crash-course – and our purpose here is to graduate with honour.
But we do need to keep the school going, to enable our descendants to get born into a planetary body, to have a decent chance to do something with this strange privilege of life on Earth. And, you never know, we might one day have Heaven on Earth.
But today, we’re still on the case. If you are so inclined, please stay with those healing and helping thoughts, because we aren’t out of the water yet. I want these guys to have a Happy Christmas too – unlike me, they are Christians, and good Christians who do seem to live by the teachings of their master. That is, they’ll bust a gut for their fellow humans.
Meditation acts as a complement but not a replacement to action. In the Majority (‘developing’) World there is a higher proportion of spirited people who do bust guts for people and for justice.
Not that such people are lacking in the rich world, but here we play safe and stay within our comfort zones – we behave ‘properly’. It’s not very good karma, in the end.
This is one reason all those poor faceless people are coming over to Britain in flimsy boats – we are attracting them unconsciously in order to help us learn how to be more human, how to share. We are in a ‘cost of living crisis’ to teach us how to pull together and look after each other. We have problems with our politicians and bosses because we as a society have not taken life in our own hands. We have problems with race and gender because we labour under the belief that other people are deeply different from us.
The good news is that, once the Great Correction really starts, life is going to get easier. Why? Because inequality and injustice are inefficient, energy-wasting, murderous ways of running a world. It doesn’t work. We need to make life easier. At last, increasing numbers of people are realising this. But the test lies in what we actually do. Leaving your job (or whatever) and changing your life is just the first step.
To get a country like Britain to a sustainable level, we need to reduce our consumption to 1960 conditions. Those of you who remember that time will know that, though there were problems, as there are today, life was alright. We had more time for each other. It’s doable, and we can be happy with that. It’s all to do with how everything is shared.
Bless us all. Life is tough at present, for many people. History takes a long time, and it’s grinding hard. But the Great Correction has actually already started – Covid was a tipping point and we’re now sliding inexorably into accelerated change. Now we just gotta get it over the hump, so that we achieve the necessary momentum to really crack our world problems.
Thank you so much to all those who have helped and contributed. There have been times when this has brought tears to my eyes. You’ve made a real difference – Felicia and Phyllis are still with us. However, this has become more of a marathon than a sprint, and there’s more to go.
It’s good practice. That’s how it’s going to be in coming decades. There’s no going back now. If I could hug you all, I would, but I’m down’ere in glorious isolation in Cornwall, so please feel it imaginally.
Love from Paldywan, and remember, stay human.