New podcast: illness, and hovering on life’s periphery
In my blogs and podcasts I seek to leave a record of the kind of experiences a person like me with cancer goes through, and of course this will include down moments.
There are times when I struggle. Here’s one. It isn’t an easy listen, and perhaps it’s not for everyone. Or if you’re new to these podcasts, listen to another one first, perhaps.
It might be valuable for anyone being touched by death or illness in any way, or thinking about it, because it might give some clues about what it feels like coming close to it – from the inside. It gives a taste of the kind of space you can go into – especially during the dark hours before dawn.
My brains were operating really slowly here, and I was going moment to moment – though I managed to get to the end! I don’t prepare what I’m going to say: I just dwell on it for a while, the moment to start comes, I switch on my recorder and off we go. I have done a lot of radio and public speaking before though, so I’m not unpracticed at this.
Afterwards I clean up the recording a little – I remove some of the ums and ahs, longer pauses, coughs or errors. Then I edit in the intro and outro, with added nature recordings, and that’s it.
I talk about death quite a lot. It’s an area of attention that’s relevant for me, and people like me, at this time. Cancer patients get it. It’s something we all need to face, and society needs to talk more about it. So I’m articulating my perspectives on it. I’ve had a few near-death experiences earlier in life, and I’m a bony old esoteric weirdo too, so I’m a wee bit more prepared for this than many people!
After my health crisis of a week ago, when this podcast was recorded, I’m getting better and ‘coming back’ gradually day by day. I visit hospital again on Monday for a checkup and review.
Unless there’s a change, the next podcast is about soul education. There’s more to come, inshallah.
This is a notion we Westerners need to add to our language for common usage: if it is for the greatest good – usually translated as, ‘if it is the will of God’. Life is something we cannot just impose upon, since it has a way of imposing on us too. You notice this more in late life than in earlier life.
I was in hospital yesterday, Monday. I’ve been ill for two weeks, and four days ago it got a lot worse. I was exhausted, in pain, fatigued and raked out. My stalwart helper Penny took me down to Penzance hospital on Sunday evening where, after the customary endurance test of waiting too long, a rather brilliant young doctor prescribed me antibiotics. Although I really dislike antibiotics, and have had to rebuild my biotic system over the last year since the last load, I knew I was in real danger, and it would be necessary to nuke it. Modern medicine is good in crises.
For me, it’s a matter of strength of spirit too. Recently I’ve been getting worn out, and my survival capacity has been flagging. In recent months I’ve been struggling somewhat with circumstances around me, and when the illness started I wasn’t strong. As the two weeks of illness progressed, I was getting exhausted. As it happened, Lynne was ill at her home too (much from overwork, and if there were a proper allowance for family and friend carers, such as £500 per month, down from the £1,500 that professional care would cost, it would make such a difference for her and for me).
In post-lockdown Britain we’ve gone back to the ‘no time’ syndrome – the basic psychosocial cause of the care crisis – which, for many people needing care and support, means we just have to sort ourselves out quite a lot, whether or not we actually can or should.
I am still shielding – being on immunosuppressants, I have to avoid infection. Some people don’t respect this, and one person who is most likely to have given me the infection is one of those. But, on the other hand, people who are more mindful of infection tend not to visit at all. Then, some people over-care and want to help too much, and this is awkward, when all I need is friendship – and if I need anything I shall say so. Some people chatter too much, and when they see me get tired they suddenly leave – when really I just need them to slow down, accept my different states of being, and simply be here with me, or even bring their knitting. Much of the time I don’t need fixing, healing or helping – I’d just like some company.
But as an astrologer, I know this is part of my deeper process too. Those of you who are astrologically literate will probably chuckle when you hear the major transit I’m on: Neptune opposition Saturn. It’s a test of spirit, a state of adversity, a loss of control, an uphill grind, and… you’re on your own with it, whether you like it or not. The fascinating thing is that, even though I was quite well set up in my life circumstances, in the end, and at the time I needed help, circumstances had it that I had to go through it alone. And here’s the rub: on a deep level, I manifested this. It’s me, my pattern. Realising this instead of complaining about it, I began to make a turn-around.
Within a day I was in the hands of the young doctor in Penzance, probably Indian, who referred me to the Royal Cornwall hospital at Treliske, Truro, 45 miles away. Yesterday, when I told the doctors at Treliske (one Irish and one Russian) what he had prescribed for me, their eyebrows rose, and they said he’d done exactly the right thing. This is the other side of the Neptune transit: my guardian angels were with me.
Although it was hard (mostly involving waiting, again) at Treliske, some quite remarkable things happened. In hospitals, there are a lot of people in pain or an altered state, and to some extent they are helpless. Some of the conversations I had were remarkable, and I was able to bring some people something to think about, or a smile, or a shift of mood – and they to me. The nurses and doctors were amazing too. The Nigerian x-ray technician was surprised when I asked where in Nigeria he came from. “No one ever asks me that”, he said, pensively, “They just think, ‘Ah, he comes from Africa'”. He came from Kano in the north, so I greeted him in the Islamic way. Here’s this lovely black guy in Cornwall, an overwhelmingly white region, and his face lit up.
There was a guy in the A&E waiting room who was under guard of two police. They’d brought him in for a post-arrest injury check. The guy couldn’t handle it – he was a laddish guy, physically quite powerful, who solves every issue with a fag and a can of beer, or a flailing fist. He was really in difficulty – he couldn’t face himself and his situation. Others moved away but I didn’t. Eventually, after an outburst, I eyeballed him with my rather penetrating eyes and said, “I’m a smoker too”. He was surprised. I had him nailed. “And I’d like a smoke too. But it’s not going to happen.” He went quiet.
Then I said: “I sat in jail once and it was a real shock. But, d’you know what? It was a turning point in my life. It made me make promises to myself about how my future was going to be.” Pause. “And good luck, matey, and I really hope this is a turning point for you.” At that very moment a nurse came out, calling my name, and I hobbled off with her for a walk down a few endless corridors.
Later, one of the police asked me, “So what have you been doing in your life to be able to do that?”. I told him this guy was easy compared to some Israeli settlers. I also said that meditators like me would say this guy had a restless monkey-mind – he couldn’t face himself, couldn’t just sit. So I addressed his monkey-mind and the guy was stunned that this stranger was giving him attention and speaking to him sympathetically. It changes the agenda and shifts the monkey-mind into a different gear. “My wife says things like that – she does yoga”, said the policeman.
So, I’ve been going through another chapter of soul-education. On the one side, life has been really hard, and my batteries were getting low, and I was in danger. On the other, I was being given some really meaningful interactions that lit me up. Particularly concerning one thing: I’m an inbuilt social activist and humanitarian and I’ve been really missing it. I miss the engagement, the interactions, the risks, the full-on challenges. But now I cannot mix with people easily and I cannot travel. I’ve been crying tears over this recently. Yet here I was being reminded that, although in recent years I’ve been focused on Palestine and the Tuareg in Mali, humanity is everywhere in need. In our society, hospitals, police and first-responder situations form the frontline. And from a soul-education viewpoint, the people involved, as victims or as rescuers, are at the deep end of human experience.
And here’s another rub: we all have our stories, but every one of us will visit this frontline personally, sooner or later. This place of vulnerability and dependency. How we deal with it very much affects our experience of it and what we gain from it as an evolving soul. Ultimately, it concerns dying. It concerns facing our stuff. It’s best to do this ahead of need. But if we don’t, when we’re faced with it, it’s good to roll with it and use the experience to clarify something deep and profound – life-secrets that we often don’t get until we’re really flat on our backs and helpless.
So today I am back home, still fatigued, still quite unwell, though something is turning round. I must return to Treliske next Monday for an assessment. The last two weeks have been really hard. You’ll get a sense of this in my next podcast, recorded from bed in the depths of this crisis a few days ago. My hope and intention is to keep blogging and podding until I no longer can. After that, it will depend either on your psychic capacities or on someone doing some blogging and podding for me.
But there’s more life to be lived first. I’ve been reminded that I’m in the lap of the gods, and all plans and statements about the future are provisional. Lynne and I have both been floored and bedded, 100 miles from each other – a strange solidarity of such kindred souls. And Penny has been a star: driving to Truro twice in one day is not the greatest of pleasures. As for me, I seem to have got through another crunch – though there were times I began to wonder.
God bless the doctors and nurses: they’re overstretched and they handle it well, but once they get to your case they can be brilliant. I really liked the Irish doctor. Once he’d done his doctoring duties he voiced concerns over Brexit. I told him that, on behalf of my fellow countrypeople, I wished to apologise to him and his fellow Irishfolk for the way we have seriously let them down. Again. He took it with a smile.
One thing I found interesting was that, though they all practiced due diligence, the doctors and nurses did not seem anxious about Covid. In fact, as I was leaving in the late afternoon, I was asked, almost in passing, whether I’d had the jab or not, and the nurse who asked seemed quite unworried when I said I hadn’t.
As I say in my podcasts: thanks for being with – there’s more to come.
Everything is okay in the end, and if it’s not okay, it’s not the end.
This is my 41st blog entry since I gained cancer, would you believe – or it gained me. It is now almost two years since the first sign of cancer revealed itself: I was gardening at Lynne’s place and cracked my back. For the first two months it seemed I had a bad back issue, but by mid-November I was diagnosed with myeloma – bone marrow cancer. My life changed. I was given a new chapter of life. Now it has been nearly two years. I’m still here, still alive. Amazingly.
Myeloma is a blood cancer and, unlike tumorous cancers, it cannot be cut out or eliminated – it can only be managed. I’ve been on a course of chemo since February (DVD – Dara, Velcade and Dex) which is now cut down to one treatment per month of Dara (injection) and Dex (pills) – a nurse comes round to visit, do blood tests, give me the drugs and occasionally to pump me up with Zolodronic acid, by drip, which helps reconstruct my hollowing bones. This is because myeloma dissolves the bones – and that’s what, in the end, might well kill me. Collapsing bones that land me up in bed, or where I get breakages and complications from them.
Well, that’s the standard prognosis, but I’m rather different, and we shall see.
All this is because of a susceptibility and exposure to electromagnetic and nuclear radiation – yes, mobile phones and wi-fi. Which I no longer use, and anyone entering my house must switch off. Even so, some people forget, and some are even dishonest. What people don’t understand is that it takes three seconds to be irradiated and two days to get rid of it. That’s what it’s like being electrosensitive.
In what way am I different? Well, I’ve discovered a lot about this in the last two years, under test and in real terms. I’ve been an acid tripper since 1966, a health-conscious wholefood vegetarian since 1971 and a meditator since 1975. This has made a big difference, and it’s deeply embedded over half a century. When diagnosed with cancer I went through a few days of anger and feelings of letdown because I had honestly believed that my lifestyle would protect me from such ailments as cancer. But then a specialist came along to say, no, my cancer wasn’t a ‘lifestyle cancer’ arising from life-habits or other causes such as stress – it was from specific toxic poisoning from radiation exposure.
Though it is also true that there are deeper reasons, and psychiatrist Gabor Mate has something interesting to say about that: people who get cancer tend to be more tuned into others’ feelings, needs and thoughts than to their own. So cancer draws our attention back to ourselves. And staying attuned to your energy-state becomes very important.
Myeloma concerns blood, the life-blood that keeps me alive, and bones, the framework that holds me up and allows me to live. It’s core stuff – not just a stressed organ going wrong – and it concerns being alive and will to live. Being someone who has helped thousands of people change their lives and who has saved many lives, this is significant to me. I’m also one of those who has felt reluctant to be alive, though this has been a motivator too – giving me a desperate need to give meaning to my life, to justify being here.
There’s more. I’ve discovered that there are two levels of immunity. One is what people standardly regard as immunity, for which immune boosters such as Vit C, zinc or selenium and a wholesome diet with fresh foods and exercise help a lot. The other is an underlying resilience that arises from decades of care for oneself, in terms of diet, lifestyle, basic happiness and psychospiritual condition. This resilience has shone through during my struggle with cancer. It shows up in my medical results: the doctors sometimes say I’m lucky, but no, it is because of choices I made when I was young and have held to ever since.
There’s even more. I knew this theoretically beforehand, but I’ve now learned it in my cells and bones. My survival now depends not mainly on medication – which did indeed save me when I was at death’s door in late 2019 – but on the state of my spirits. Earlier this year I took life in my hands and deeply decided that I shall die when I have run out of energy and the will to hold myself up and maintain my spirits – no sooner, and no later. I’m a former mountaineer – I know this stuff. The state of my spirits keeps me alive. I do get deeply tired, and on some days I drag myself around like a lead weight, as if gravitation has been switched up and Sir Isaac Newton is working overtime. My batteries run down and my life-signs are measured in mega-flops.
But the key thing is this. As things have progressed I have gone for help to my ‘inner guides’ and ‘inner doctors’, and every week I do a deep meditation where I open myself up and yield to them, let them inspect me internally and do some fixing. And they do. And it works. It really works. But it requires deep surrender, trust and, dare I say it, belief. Were it not for this, I wouldn’t be alive now.
I’ve asked myself what life would be like if I didn’t have cancer. I realised that I had reached the end of my path. I’m a purpose-driven kinda guy, and I had run out of purpose without realising it. I was carrying on with my customary life-strategies but I wasn’t really fired up. Cancer has given me a new life by giving me new challenges: core challenges. I’ve been tasked with befriending death and completing my life. This wasn’t what I thought the plan was, but it is indeed a great gift.
My old friend Bryony, a radiant lady and a devoted Buddhist, was my PA when we were organising the Hundredth Monkey Camps in the 1990s. She died of cancer at age 50 and she said, just before she went, that her life divided in two halves. One lasted 48 years, BC, before cancer, and the other lasted two years – and they were equal half-lives.
That’s what’s happened to me. Rob Hand, a well-known astrologer in Cape Cod, USA, once told me, when I was 40, that I would reach my peak in late life. Well, Rob, you were right. It made sense, because I have Saturn prominent in my birth chart. But I never anticipated cancer. It has prematurely aged me. Physically I am coming up 71, but I’ve been catapulted into my eighties, and on a ‘bad’ day in my nineties.
It reminds me of something the Tibetan lama Akong Rinpoche taught me in 1975: the real work happens when life is hard and you’re climbing uphill, and the times when you feel free, light and joyous are like holidays, to help you keep going. But then, he was a Capricorn.
In recent years some people of my generation have been thinking of themselves as elders. I’ve always balked at this. I’m a veteran, yes – a veteran of the revolution and a load of other things that would frighten many people. My life has been 120 years long, experientially. But I’ve now discovered what an elder really is.
To be an elder you need to lose your powers and abilities to a sufficient degree that you can no longer participate in life’s busy issues – you have to become incapable, dependent on others. This makes you see beyond normal ways of seeing things. A certain wisdom becomes available, yet it comes only when you can no longer act on life in the way you used to. We humans only really appreciate things when we lose them, and having Death staring at you, straight in the eyes, sure does change your perspective on life. You have to accept that you’re no longer in control. That brings forward the relative wisdom of elderhood – if, that is, you’re prepared to assume it, and if people around you actually want and need it.
I can’t do stuff any more. People want me to self-publish my book (which is still not out) but I don’t have what it takes to handle that. I am dependent on others for this. That’s just one example. And today, as I write, my valiant helper Penny, who deserves ten medals, comes round to clean up. I keep my house tidy on a day-to-day level (after all, I’m a Virgo) but I haven’t got what it takes to do deeper cleaning, recycling and sorting. I can no longer drive a car (a big thing for me), and she’s my daily-life fixer out there in the world. This week she’s going to get me a new dishwashing brush.
On Monday, Lynne left after one of our weekends, to go back home to Devon, and I depend enormously on her too: she’s my chief watcher, and she supports my heart and soul in thoroughly irreplaceable ways, and she helps me stay human. She loves me in ways I never thought anyone could. Circumstances meant that we hadn’t seen each other for two months. I’m a tough old boot and a survivor, but as soon as she walked in the door, everything was alright again for both of us. As she said last weekend, there’s something deeply magic between us – it’s almost as if we’d been fixed for each other. And remarkably, given my situation, I seem also to be supporting her heart and soul too, since she has a busy, engaged life of the kind I have now withdrawn from – and life hasn’t been at all easy for her recently. She’s had months of intensity and treading the edge.
I depend also on my truly dedicated and heroic shopper, Karen, who keeps me stocked with food each week. I depend on my landlords, the Tobins, for their hospitality, protection and goodwill. I rely on the wildlife outside my window – the swallows, tits, robins, buzzards, gulls and crows – who feed my spirits. And on you lot, who read my stuff and hear my podcasts, who give me a feeling there’s reason to stick around. And on my family, who still need me as a father and grandfather, however distant, hermity and weird I might be.
And on creativity: I’ve been limited to about 3-5 hours per day in my working capacities, but I’ve been very creative with it. That feeds me – and hopefully it feeds others too. But the biggest thing is my inner helpers. In the end, they’re keeping me alive, and this must be because they perceive a reason to do so.
Now here comes a plonker that will turn off some of you and twiggle the antennae of a few others: half of them are ETs. And, if I have it in me to write a further book, it might be about ETs. And MDIs – multidimensional intelligences. And what this means for the world. Most people think this is a peripheral, fanciful or deluded issue for cranks only, and of no relevance to them. Well, I have news for you.
If you think that climate change and resolving all of the world’s other endless problems is the most important question for the 21st century, think again. The biggest issue for humanity is meeting the neighbours. For which we are not ready.
However… resolving our world problems will make us ready. It will enable us to meet them as equals. Which is why they currently hold back. They’re waiting. To save us from our planetary plight they would currently have to stage a takeover, rendering us as subjects and victims, and this is not what is needed. They would need to suppress our strange human tendency to fight against them, defending our supposed freedom to do what we want – and a conflict would constitute a massive mission-failure for planet Earth. They would win, but they don’t want things that way. They are waiting for us to rise to our full stature as humans and take responsibility for our part in the universal story. Making progress in this is crucial not just for us but also for them.
What I am saying is not new. It was in a 1993 book I was commissioned to write for some beings called the Council of Nine, The Only Planet of Choice (now out of print and with collectors’ value). Gene Roddenbery was involved, and Startrek and the idea of the Prime Directive were based on his chats with the Nine. Thirty years after writing that book, my experience has led me to understand that the Nine were right. Planet Earth’s progress is important for the universe.
It is not really for me to choose whether to write this book, since I cannot control how long I live or whether my brains will handle writing another book (it’s hard work). I’ll do it if I can, and if the right flow starts up to allow me to write what is truly needed. But first, I must complete what I’m currently doing. On my ‘up’ days, I can see the possibility of doing such a book, though on my ‘down’ days, when I’m dragging myself around and making a cup of tea is a big deal, it seems a ridiculous proposition – and who would be interested anyway? And am I bothered?
We shall see. That’s what life is like now – it goes on a daily basis. I might live seven years, or I might fall over, break my bones and pop my clogs in a month. We shall see. That vulnerability, that rather big open question, now determines my life. Over time I’ve been describing to you how gaining cancer has been an amazingly strange gift – it has given me a new life, even if shortened in terms of ticktock time. Now let me deliver you another plonker. Some of you won’t like this or agree, but I’ve always been like this: I don’t always deliver notions people would prefer to hear.
The environmental problem and the world’s vast stock of problems are a great gift. They are the beginning of a new life for humanity. We are at last growing up. It’s happening now. The solutions lie within the problems we face, in all their details. And, despite the underlying fear, anxiety, loathing and resistance we humans are infected with nowadays, all eight billion of us, each in our ways, we’re going to make it.
The only question is how much pain and damage has to happen first – and that’s our choice. In making it we shall rise to a more full stature as a planetary race. We will become ready to meet the neighbours. Because we as souls come from them. No one started their journey here, and nobody is here by accident.
Brothers and sisters: be in peace in your hearts, and get on with whatever you know in your blood and bones to be good and true. Get on with it please. For that’s what we are here for. There was a nuclear scientist who asked the Nine whether there was one thing that would really change everything, that humanity could do. The Nine were good at one-liners. They said, simply, everything will change when everyone on Earth gets on with their life-purpose. It is already programmed inside us. If everyone does that, everything will get covered. We don’t need to find or get it: it’s with us now and we need to do it.
Sometimes a comment spontaneously written in an online discussion can say it in ways it’s difficult to think up most of the time, and this morning I had one of those. I was commenting on a FB post by a fellow Myeloma patient who had just had shocking diagnosis news, and she was reeling from it – her fears were overwhelming her. So I wrote this to her, and it sums up a lot for me, as a cancer patient. Might be useful to a few of you….
You will pass away when your heart and soul feel the need to give up, or when your angels decide to take you out, or when it’s time and it is good and okay. You’ll have your own way of seeing and defining this.
But this kind of idea brings more control back to you, and it places an emphasis on keeping your heart and spirits up, as a primary focus. In this sense there is a perverse gift in cancer: it prompts us to monitor, be aware of and look after ourselves like never before, and to look at some of the more fundamental life questions that previously we avoided. It’s even arguable that some of those avoidances can be seen as a psycho-spiritual cause of cancer.
Without cancer we are nevertheless prompted by life to learn and grow, but with it the stakes and the issues are amplified. One of the big lessons that has come to me since diagnosis has been this: if it lifts me up, I need to do it, and if it weighs me down, I need either not to do it or I need to reassess. Psychological de-burdening.
Amongst other things it is an opportunity to redesign our lives to make them work better, for us and those around us, prompted by the tightened parameters, disabilities, fears and challenges myeloma brings.
I’m on an astrological transit called Neptune opposition Saturn, and one symptom of this is aloneness. This is a life-pattern of mine, both a blessing and a bane. Much of my greatest work, in terms of studies and writing, has emerged during times of isolation and adversity – as if I’ve been given a perverse gift of extended time in which the only thing I can do is the work.
Kinda serving time – but there’s a double-entendre to that term. I’m a saturnine type, and that’s what it’s about – fulfilling the agreement, the covenant, as best I can. And Saturn says to each and every one of us, each in our own way: you can do it now and there will be consequences, or you can do it later with other consequences, but you will do it – and the easier path is to take what appears to be the harder path (though it isn’t harder in the end).
Writing a book, building a website or doing research… most other options become mysteriously unavailable when it’s time to do one of these. But not forever, and the window shuts if I don’t seize the time, even when I just have potatoes to eat.
But then, that’s one of my best contributions and people benefit from it, and if I sat around chatting, socialising or treading the money-mill I wouldn’t be doing it and it wouldn’t happen. Cos it takes hours, days, months and years, and a life’s work takes a life to do (sometimes longer).
So the current fiddly operation I’m on right now is tweaks to the ancient sites maps of Cornwall that I’ve been doing for the last six years. This time I’m looking at ancient site alignments coming from Dartmoor and Exmoor in Devon into Cornwall. Bodmin Moor acts as a kind of hub for incoming alignments, though some pass through it. It’s amazing, the accuracy with which these alignments cross quite long distances of up to 100km, hitting ancient sites within just a few metres.
One remarkable thing is this. I was reluctant to get involved with Devon (too much work), but I chose a few sites, such as Berry Head and Start Point, and found some amazing alignments. More recently I decided (after procrastinating) to add key sites in Dartmoor to the map (takes about 5-10 minutes per site) – and fascinatingly, some of those sites appeared exactly on the alignments I had already found. Amazing. How they did this without satellites, I do not know (though I have a few theories).
It’s in gradual progress – but (if you wish) check out those alignments from Berry Head, Torbay, and Start Point – one goes all the way to Bartinney Castle, just on the other side of the valley and visible when I look up from my desk. As I write in my forthcoming book, if you wanted to land a mothership in West Penwith, that’d be the place.
I have to do the uploads from a non-public ‘sandbox’ map of Cornwall to the public maps late at night, since many people will (hopefully) be in bed, and their visits to the maps won’t get disrupted as the maps blink on and off, one layer at a time as each layer is replaced, tweaked and twooked. Well, that’s how it gets late at night… it takes about three hours.
The latest upload happened last night. I was buzzing on Dexamethasone at the time – a legal and free cancer drug, just like meditation, but fundamentally different and prescribed by different sources). But Dex helps me get a few things done, in the two days I’m taking it.
So you’ll find the current stage of this research here:
There’s one more thing… no one can take away your life’s work from you. If you feel they are doing that, then you have a short-term, not a longterm problem and the value of the experience is to confirm that it’s right to get on with it somehow, and to oblige you to get right behind it.
Whatever is going on in your life, your life’s work goes with you on a somewhat separate track, fed by and feeding through to things that happen to you, or books you read, or people who deliver prompts and clues. Withholding and hanging back on our life’s work is one of the great causes of the global problems we have today. It’s also a cause of future illness.
I’m not a great withholder, but cancer put the cards on the table and told me: there’s more, and it’s time. Part of me doesn’t care so much about how my ideas and initiatives are received any more – though of course I do care a lot, but not for the same reasons as before. So I’m getting down many of the threads I’ve pursued in life, for the record, because I’ve been privileged to live through a pretty exciting and edgy time, and I’ve shared this with so many good people. It’s worth leaving tracks, whether or not future generations know or care whose shoulders they’re standing on. Because human history and the passing of the generations simply eats us for breakfast and dissolves us into nothingness.
Even those of whom history thinks well are often remembered for weird and often incorrect reasons. Once upon a time, on Iona, I had an inner dialogue with the soul of St Columba, a founder of monasteries and evangelist for the faith, looked on as a shining light of former times. Not so – he was a murderer and completely screwed up in Ulster, got out, saw the light, and did all that from guilt and a sense of penance. He disliked the way he is remembered.
Similarly with Salah-ad-Din, regarded as a great and just Kurdish ruler of Syria and Egypt. He had offered a power-sharing arrangement in Palestine that would have changed future history, and the Crusaders (Richard the Lionheart) didn’t take it. (It wasn’t helped by the fact that his son and a rich European lady, who would be required to marry to guarantee the treaty, didn’t want to.) He didn’t like that. He got the Crusaders out of Jerusalem and penned them up in Acre, but then, tired of campaigning against assholes and wanting to complete the job, he made a fatal error, causing many deaths. He died, heartbroken, not long after. What he remembers of that life is not the same as what many remember today.
It’s all about the ins and outs of coming out into the world again.
Mayon Cliff Cairn
I haven’t written a blog recently. Some of you might be wondering what’s happening. Well, it’s classic for a cancer patient, and also it’s happening for some in connection with Covid. It’s all about the ins and outs of coming out into the world again.
I’ve been getting busy. Sometimes a bit too busy, and then I collapse. My brains are less befogged than last year and I’m less fatigued, and also there comes a point where I get fed up with resting and intense self-care. One problem is, people start thinking I’m ‘better’ – no, I’m more good and less bad.
Also I have lifelong hyper-proactive patterns and a dose of Joe Biden Syndrome – the knowledge that this is your last chance and you need to dance your last dance before you go. That’s quite a motivator. I can understand the struggles teenagers and young adults go through when they look at the world and think, OMG, what kind of a mess is this that I’m walking into?. Well, at the other end it goes, What kind of a mess am I leaving behind?
So my book is being edited and produced (hopefully for publication in September), and I’ve started doing podcasts, and I’m doing some online talks on astrology, prehistorics and geopolitics, and I’m getting a few more visitors… and thus far I’m managing to keep it together, but I have to work hard on training people to understand I’m not ‘up to speed’ and cannot match their timetables, lists, agendas, complexities and demands, and helping people solve their problems is not as easy as before. Though sometimes magic happens anyway. My memory is poor, my capacity to multitask is near-zero. After 4pm my energy droops a lot – and that’s when many people come online and want to talk.
On the plus side, the effect of a death sentence, chemo treatment and longterm isolation have given certain advantages. I’m seeing things differently, a level deeper. This can be uncomfortable for some, and I’m getting some crit for it. That’s a bit off-putting but it’s part of the game if you stick your head over the parapet.
It sounds terrible to say this but, in a way, I don’t care any more. This is a part of Joe Biden Syndrome. I don’t care so much about what people think or whether my output earns me brownie-points, fame or money, and this frees up loads of things. Though bizarrely, I’m more sensitive and permeable than ever before, and this part of me really cares.
The ‘council space’ at Bosigran Castle
I really appreciate insightful feedback, though when it is reactive, prejudicial and poorly thought through, it sometimes hurts. Often it’s powered by projected frustration. That’s difficult, because I’ve spent my life working to raise the level of people’s understanding, and this small matter seems to have gone backwards in recent years.
Some people might feel my writings can be harsh or scathing. They might be right. This might perhaps be an issue about understanding Aspies though (Greta Thunberg, Elon Musk and Bill Gates can be seen this way too – kinda suspect). But there’s one thing that’s important to me: I never insist on readers believing me or doing what I say. Or if I do, I don’t mean to. I add things to the pool for your consideration and I might be right or wrong, and seeing this and my own process might perhaps help you in your own process. That’s my approach.
So, in the end, I get over crit and am committed to avoiding the censorship of public judgement. Which might even be a worse censorship than the one people usually moan about.
I did write a blog a week ago about ‘weltschmerz‘ – the pain of the world. I got a bit stuck on it though, precisely over this crit. But I’ve kept it and might work it over again. I’ve moved on for now, giving more attention to the G7 summit that’s happening this weekend a few miles away from me, here in Cornwall.
This represents an interesting twist to the geopolitical consciousness work I’ve been doing over the years (with my friends – see below), usually from quite isolated and insulated places. Well, although distance is no object in the innerworlds, this time they’re coming to me, haha!
Actually, I think the real big guy who’s coming to the G7 is Mutti Merkel. One can disagree with things she’s done, but she has done really well – an examplary politician in a difficult political arena, and a sensible and well-informed hand on the tiller. Now she’s retiring, and that’s right too – times move on, and she knows it. Good luck to her. As Mikhael Gorbachev found, politicians and public figures are dispensible, and history eats them for breakfast.
Carn Euny iron age fogou
I’ve been facing some stuff. I found out that my back problem is likely to become a slow physical degeneration – an increasing incapacity to hold myself up. Myeloma slowly eats away at my bones and they’re already rather thinned out. I click my back into place about once every hour or two, and if a stranger hears it they find it a bit frightening! This degeneration issue has been a big thing to confront and accept. It confronts my get-over-it kind of character.
It’s a test of a key philosophy of mine: to look for the gift in all things. That’s what cancer and similar ailments are: a soul-driven test of our psycho-spiritual resilience and openness, a test of our capacity to actually do it, and not just to believe it, or to hope unproductively.
I’m still on chemo but it’s getting milder. The nurse came yesterday to take my bloods and shoot me up with Velcade and Dara, and I took Dex and two other things too, as pills. It’s weird, and Dex gives me stomach issues and a difficult steroid-driven feeling for two days, but the myeloma itself is in retreat and I’m ‘coming back’. The killer will either be toxicity from the stomach problems or bone degeneration – side-effects of myeloma (they vary for different people).
This brings up a further issue and challenge. I have decided to die by decision and when the time is right – or perhaps when my ‘angels’ choose to take me out. They have helped me so much through the cancer process and, in a way, I’m dependent on them, as well as on doctors and other humans, near and far.
I’ve recently made a re-commitment to a certain kind of work I’ve done in the past. It came to me a few weeks ago and gave a new sense of purpose I didn’t know was there. It’s a renewed contract with those ‘angels’ and I guess that, if I get things right, whatever that means, they’ll keep me going until it’s complete. A contract is a two-way agreement, and each party needs to know they have a reasonable chance of fulfilling it.
Hella Point at Tol Pedn Penwith (Gwennap Head)
This re-commitment feels right, but we’re feeling it out before starting. Besides, I need to get Shining Land published and a few other things done and clarified first. That’s my reality, and they have theirs too.
People sometimes ask me whether I believe in God. I say, “No”. Then I say, “In another way, Yes”. Muslims give Allah 99 names and they leave the last one open – good idea. Belief is simply a guideline, a choice of a way to construct our reality, a direction to head in. It’s more a matter of knowing, not believing in, ‘God’. Or, as my old soul-friend Sig Lonegren might say, gnowing. We’re challenged to really gnow. In order to grow, we need to gnow. This is what brings a turning in the deepest seat of consciousness. Believing takes you only a certain distance. And Goddess bless you Sig, because you’re facing these same end-of-life questions.
So that’s where things stand right now, and the story unfolds. I got up at 6am with a sudden urge to write a blog, and now it’s time for breakfast and to take my second dose of Dex. Was I hearing someone out there, in my circle of soul-relatives, wondering what was happening with old Paldywan? I’m still here. And there you are too. Gratitude for that.
Hours after writing the previous blog I started going downhill, and last week I went through a nightmare. I was really unwell, out of it and going through it.
Hours after writing the previous blog I started going downhill, and between Tuesday and Friday last week I went through a nightmare. I was really unwell, out of it and going through it. I think the chemo has been pitched incorrectly (especially for a meditating vegetarian of fifty years), and I have a physical stomach complication arising from the shortening of my lower spine and squeezing of my stomach, which added to it all. By Friday I felt all beat up and half-dead, and during the weekend I’ve been reconstituting myself and coming back to balance – with a little help from the sunshine.
It makes me wary of the next step – I get another dose of chemo tomorrow. But I’ve had one item of medication removed, and another (Dex) halved, and I shall do my best with that.
All this has rather undermined my confidence, though this has been helped by two nurses and one GP who have been really good – mainly by being human and tuned in. The NHS system badly needs serious review, but it has so many good souls working within it.
So I’m going to take a calculated risk with the next stage and see whether I can tough out the coming week – whether or not this is battlefield bravado, I do want to get this chemo process over with. At best I shall have quite a lot of fatigue, so I’m unlikely to be able to answer messages or even perhaps read them. But, alive or dead (I suspect the former), I’ll be back.
Thanks and blessings to all of you who have sent prayers and healing: please keep it to general support without specific intervention since my inner doctors are best to cover that. They might even be whispering into the heads of the NHS doctors too – you never know.
I get the feeling a much deeper process kicked in last week – it went down, or up, a level – or both. For the astrologers amongst you, Neptune is doing an exact opposition to my Saturn in the coming weeks – it has a kind of ‘this is it’ feeling to it and, despite everything, I’m up for it. ‘Freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose‘.
And it’s a tad more engaging than bill-paying, driving along motorways, flattening aircraft seats or going through checkpoints…
The great blessing is that, amidst all this, it is clearer to me now than ever before that we come into this life to hone our souls. That’s the number one takeaway you get from taking on a life on Earth.
I grew up into a teenager who looked at my dad, who had fought in Egypt for our freedom and lost a leg in the process, telling him we weren’t free. We were living in a totalitarian society where, at least for us but not for the Commies over there or for the starving children in Africa, our chains had been coated with carrots and cream.
It’s strange. Everyone is busy angsting about Covid and here am I, as usual focused on something else entirely – in this case, right now, cancer. Or, more precisely, chemotherapy. I feel like I’ve aged ten years in the last week. Dragging myself around, feeling the gravitational weight of living on a dense-gravitational planet, holding up my weak back and gasping at shooting pains in my bones, feeling a deep tiredness with life, a tiredness with its daily routines, with yet another breakfast, yet another day. OMG, not again.
Thoughout life I’ve always sought to light up the lives of others around me, with varying degrees of success, sometimes getting confused with the dark shadows in my heart, always picking myself up for another round, another try, another angle… and sometimes, burned out, drooping and flopping into life’s mudbath, the slough of despond, to go down, down into the murky depths of human struggle, the jihad, the holy war of inner conflict, the war with the axis of evil in the human heart… and for what?
Lying in bed in the semi-delerium of chemotherapeutic drudgery, with the BBC World Service bringing the heroic crowds of Yangon, Minsk, Santiago and all stops to Hong Kong to my bedside, ringing around in my night-bedarkened cranium… lying there hearing the complaints of my fellow countrypeople over the time spent queueing to get inoculated against a virus that is too intelligent, too agile to tamp down so that we can all return to normal, return to a comfortable purgatory, a purgatory that all makes perfect sense, expressed in dollars and cents, pounds, shillings and pence…
The normality of democratic freedom, a freedom to choose our own washing powder to dissolve the persistent criminal stains of omission, commission and perpetration that permit us our apparent freedom. A freedom to supply munitions for the bombing of faraway Yemenis so that we can pump up the employment statistics, share values and the great god GDP, just because those Yemenis are less than us, somehow less deserving of the certified serving of chocolate and tax bills that make up our cherished freedom.
I had an extended moment of revelation. One of those moments when you see something you’ve long been perfectly aware of but didn’t really dare to look at. I saw how lonely I’d been throughout my life. I was born in 1950 in a baby-boom maternity home that was about to close – the last baby to be born there. All the staff was there, watching. I wasn’t too sure I wanted to be born, to start that long trajectory of landing procedures leading into the tangly web of life and its involvements.
Up in heaven I had known I could do it, but now I was not so sure. There were all these people waiting to celebrate my birth, not because it was me but because I was the last, the last before they all got transferred somewhere else or had to find new jobs. It was the back end of a tragic baby boom when our parents tried so hard to replace the devastation of war with new hope and a constant stream of dirty nappies (diapers). Someone probably had some postwar rationing-busting plonk and munchies for that moment and they celebrated the last baby while I lay there wondering what was to happen next.
Yet I grew up into a teenager who looked at my dad, who had fought in Egypt for our freedom and lost a leg in the process, telling him we weren’t free. We were living in a totalitarian society where, at least for us but not for the Commies over there or for the starving children in Africa, our chains had been coated with carrots and cream. My parents thought something was wrong with me – after all, if I listened to that raucous, long-haired noise of 1960s pop music there must be something wrong. No, Commies weren’t like us, and any sympathy felt for them just showed what betrayal and subversion these youngsters were capable of – perhaps they were enemies in our midst, traitors to the cause, undermining freedom when, really, they ought to be grateful and get a proper job.
Like many in my time and like so many right now, I was struggling for truth. Now, half a century later, here am I, churning in bed with a war in my heart, struggling to plumb the depths of truth. Oh why, oh why do we fail to see? We’d prefer to destroy our planetary nest than to do without the security of chocolate, tax-bills and easy answers – it’s safer, it’s normal. If some dictator, some oligarchy, turns down the screws on another few million people, well, that’s life, and it all makes perfect sense, expressed in dollars and cents, pounds, shillings and pence.
Yes, struggling in a war against cancer that is being fought in the muddy battlefield of my being, in midst of that soup of fears, doubts and shadows that make me human. In that moment of seeing it became so clear how I had created this aloneness pattern myself: my pattern, my incrementally-repeated choice. In the pursuit of my percieved calling, my struggle to help humanity and shift society’s tiller in a new direction, I had walked away from so many. I had shrugged shoulders, let go and moved on. They had paid their price and I had paid mine. I’d shared so much redemptive love, care and awakening with so many people yet, in another way, I’d engaged in a life of struggle to reach across the light-years of distance, to try to reach to another human star-soul in the vastness.
Here I was, an ageing man churning in bed, wading through his demons, missing loved ones near and far, blessed with a seeing, a revelation of fact-sodden truth, a statement of futility, an audit of the enormity of the task of generating light in the muddy morass of earthly life. It’s a light that struggles even now to illuminate the stone walls of that prison of the soul that is me.
Before you rush to assure me it’s alright, send me reiki and pray for me to ‘get better’ – whatever that really is – and before you lapse into the belief that I’m indulging in negativity, please stop. Please sit and look at the phantasmagorical disaster-zone of your heart: sit with it. It’s there, it’s uncomfortable, yet here lies a key, a lost chord, a lump of gold sitting between the dragon’s paws. It invites you take a deep breath, let go of fear and pick up your birthright. It’s lonely and dark down there, but here lies the key.
Today I go into Treliske hospital for another round of pumping up with drugs. As a denizen of a rich country I am privileged to receive this, as if it’s a birthright. The Dara is already giving me the shits and the Dex is dragging me into a place where nightmares transmogrify into explosions of light and back again with bewildering rapidity. This treatment feels foreign to me, but these are times where my own vision of reality fails to accord with that which apparently is believed by the majority. What’s important to me in my own manner of perceiving is not what’s important to the medical system I have resorted – it doesn’t understand it. But this is the dilemma of being on Earth – no, of being in this civilisation at this time on Earth. We all share it. Stuck between a rock and a hard place – all of us. Serving our time. Doing what we feel is best yet making a pig’s ear of it, drowning in the disappointing pointlessness of constructed belief.
But this grinding action, this grating and milling, it generates light. Awakening before dawn, before the crows did their morningtime auditory armada of swoopy crawing in the dawny gloaming out over the farm where I live, and my demons were irking me. But now dawn has come and the sun is up, shining through the big windows of my hovelly palace – it’s called The Lookout because that’s what you do here, look out. The demons are scarpering in the dawning light. Vacating space until they can come again on another haunting mission. Perhaps it all was a nightmare. Or perhaps it’s the truth of my being. At this moment I cannot judge.
But when I was sitting there shivering, having just lit the woodstove, listening to a robin on the dog-rose outside, perkily tweeting hello, I realised, well, better to grind this stuff now than to leave it until the moment of my deathly transitioning. Better to grow while I can, to see clearly without the grey-tinted glasses of daily routine – the one that looks at the clock, telling me to get ready to be picked up for the journey to the cancer unit at Treliske. Yes, it’s now time to get normalised, to keep to the timetable no matter what. Get plugged back in to the matrix. Get ready. Take your pills. Do the business. Be responsible.
For those of you who are familiar with that quackish charlatanry called astrology, you’ve just read an unpremeditated description of a transit called Neptune opposition Saturn. For those of you who aren’t familiar with it, well, that was your choice, and that’s okay too – we all have to live with the consequences of our choices, with the particular way we arrange the furniture and wall-hangings in the prison-cell of our souls. We all share this dilemma.
Paradoxically, nearly eight billion people are alive today yet we all face an aloneness that has never in human history been achieved before. We all have our demons, believing they’re unique to us without realising that they are but minuscule variants of the demons we all share – demons to which we give power, with which we’re fully capable of polluting and destroying our planetary home. For the demons out there are demons within us and the redemption of both go hand in hand.
It’s okay, really. Everything is okay in the end, and if it’s not okay, it’s not the end. Some people tell me they’re so sorry I have cancer, but I find myself wondering why truly they feel this, or whether I should be sorry for them instead. It doesn’t matter. In the end it’s all an enormous phantasmagorical Youtube video, an epic production of illusions showing in five dimensions on the custom-made cinema-screen of our psyches. Who needs a subsription to Netflix when we have this? It’s free and it’s right here, with no need for shipping in from China.
Ee, there’s now’t so strange as folk. God must be amazed at us, at the imaginings that we in our billions can cook up. It must be distressing for him to see how we blame the Chinese for what they’re doing to the Uighurs when it is we ourselves who are doing it whenever we buy yet another packaged product in our supermarkets. Or perhaps he laughs when he sees us languishing in our beliefs, including those that construct him into a God that, as John Lennon in one of his own moments of despair, identified as a concept by which we measure our pain.
Now it’s time to put the kettle on, shower my creaky body, dress up in my togs and get my ass to Treliske, for another round of the never-ending Youtube movie that is life. Chemotherapy, sometimes a high, sometimes a low, provided for free on ‘our NHS’ so that we can spend a little more time on Earth struggling with that darkness and light. Is this the life we came for?
Don’t fall for the idea that I’m suffering more than you. This is the life. This is the playground in which we are playing it out. Here’s the ketchup to squirt over it. And there’s the kettle, ready to disgorge its contents into my teapot. Here we are. The oldies amongst us will remember this, from the back of the Whole Earth Catalog: we can’t get it together – it is together. Perfectly together. This is where we stand. All will be well. But to reach that point of calm certainty in your heart, it’s necessary to dig down in the deeps, make love with those demons and live to see another day.
Now for the next bit. Peace, sisters and brothers. Palden.
The picture above is of a lunar eclipse over Bethlehem, Palestine, in 2011 at the time of the Arab revolutions. The Youtube video is a song by Roger Waters called Perfect Sense, from his 1990s album Amused to Death.
I went really deep and I was totally ‘gone’ for perhaps twenty minutes. I was consciously yielding to the drugs and my healing angels, who presumably needed me to hand over control so that they could manage the process. It was one of the deepest inner journeys I’ve had for a few weeks.
I knew everything was going to be okay when I reached reception at the haematology department, gave my details and received a ticket. On it was the number nine. Those of you who know me well will guess what this signals.
Have you ever observed day signs? I’ve been an intel gatherer for yonks and over the years many people have asked me where I get my information. Apart from being a knowledgeable geopolitical and historical big-head with an Aspie’s feel for hidden agendas, one answer is observing day-signs (omens), a magical way of information-gathering. Another is intuition/instinct, another is use of the pendulum and another is horary astrology (doing a chart for the moment when a matter arises or a question is asked). Of course, if I said this to many people I’d lose credibility or get accused of superstition, blasphemy, devil-worship or any other handily available accusation. But attentiveness to day-signs answers otherwise unanswerable questions. I was given a sign and it said ‘Nine’. I knew all would be well.
So there was I, later sitting in the Headland Unit at Treliske hospital. I’d had blood samples taken twice, I’d been ECG’d, weighed, measured, interviewed and briefed, I’d signed the assent form, taken four different pills plus ten of Dex (Dexamethasone), and then I had to wait an hour before they were to shoot me up with Dara (Daratumamab) and Velcade.
Well, at least these drugs are legal – that’s a change. It might sound strange, but I’ve had an issue coming up over this last year and, for me, it’s quite profound. It’s a tiredness with things not changing, even after a long time. One example is the ‘war on drugs’ which, to me as an aged hippy, has meant 55 long years of enforced criminality. Yes, me.
For half a century I’ve been living a very different life to the average Westerner but, despite all the talk nowadays about minority rights, things have not changed fundamentally, after all these years.
When I was 21 I stood on top of a mountain and made a vow to contribute significantly to world change, and while I knew it would take a long time, I so much wanted to see the world tip irreversibly into positive change before I was to die. But it looks like I’ll have to commute that joy and sense of relief to my next life. That’s quite a big let-go, but I made it last year. As I often say, history takes a long time. And we teach best what we ourselves are learning.
Anyway, back to the cancer unit: the journey had begun. It was a bit like the feeling I’d get on one of my humanitarian tours of duty, when the plane would take off from Heathrow on the way to the Middle East – I’d have gone through all the anticipations I could dredge up in the preceding days and weeks, and now it was business and I was dead calm and collected.
Some people think I’m brave, facing cancer treatment in the way I do, but there’s a simple answer to that: I’m not getting bombed or shot at, so cancer treatment is relatively easy when you see things from that viewpoint. Yes, I was getting nuked with EM radiation at Treliske (I’m electrosensitive) and bombarded with pharma-chemicals. And, amazingly, they didn’t even have any gluten-free biscuits or soya milk for my tea in the cancer unit, but this is peanuts.
Get upset with things like that and you’ll be useless getting shot at. This was a real problem in Syria, in the earlier days of the conflict in 2014. You couldn’t tell who was shooting at you or for what reason, because there were then about seven sides to the battle. They could shoot at you from any direction. At least in most wars it’s ‘the other side’ doing it, and you know roughly why and from which direction.
Anyway, that’s not the case here. My life is being saved, and for this I am grateful – without chemo treatment last year I would already be dead. Here I was, installed in an armchair, well out of it on drugs, and it felt okay. The main problem was not the chemo, it was my neurological system and brains squealing with EM radiation. Few people realise how discriminatory, insensitive and oppressive it is when they spray radiation from their mobile phone over an electrosensitive person like me, commonly regarded as an awkward person making an unnecessary fuss over nothing in particular. Yet radiation exposure is a direct cause of the particular cancer I have (myeloma). It’s a bit like being vegan 20-50 years ago – looked on as bloody awkward and deluded, and these people need to get a grip and get a proper job.
The nurses were keeping me in to observe how I reacted to the Dara. Fair enough. But there was just one problem: the doctors and nurses have little experience of people like me and they use ‘normal’ as their standard for judging everything. But I’m not normal. I have the benefit of having had a good diet, a growthful and meaningful life and, as a result, a more robust immune system and attitudes than the majority of people, and I can inwardly supercharge any therapies applied to me with consciousness work. Last year, my chemo treatment was cut from eight to six to five cycles of treatment – I did really well.
Inshallah, perhaps I’ll bring them a few surprises this time round. I had done a lot of inner preparation in the preceding days and, once the Chinese-Filipino male nurse, a nice chap, had shot me up with chemo drugs, I went straight into meditation, cross-legged in my chair, breathing myself down, modulating my energy-field to accommodate to the drugs and calm my heart which, in response to the Dex, an amphetamine, and the radiation, was pumping quite hard.
After doing this I went really deep and I was totally ‘gone’ for perhaps twenty minutes. I was consciously yielding to the drugs and my healing angels, who presumably needed me to hand over control so that they could manage the process. It was one of the deepest inner journeys I’ve had for a few weeks. When eventually I came to, I looked at the other cancer patients sat in their armchairs and hooked up to their drips, and the nurses going around doing their duties… experiencing all this with the perspective of an ET getting a look into this strange world through my eyes.
God bless these cancer patients, busy ingesting chemicals and most of them sitting fiddling with their phones, communicating with anxious daughters and neighbours to fix pickups. They’re all nice people, all facing cancer and reduced life-chances. They must wonder who this old guy dressed in his copper-coloured Arabic jalabiya was – a foreigner or a weirdo? But then, in Cornwall, it’s not like England, and this isn’t so strange, and when they hear I come from West Penwith, stacked full of oddbods and veterans of the revolution, they just nod, aha, okay.
God bless my nurse, who had been so worried about hurting me because I had so little subcutanous fat on my stomach to shove his needles into. No fat – not normal. But then, I’m not getting shot at, only shot up, so it was no worry – he was just being a bit over-conscientious. Later he came by and said, “Have you met the Dalai Lama?”. Yes, I had, though I’d mainly been involved with the Sixteenth Karmapa and his own amazing squad of lamas back in the 1970s. The nurse wanted to talk about the Tibetans, Uighurs, Hong Kong and Taiwan – he’d figured I understood these issues. He was deeply concerned about China – like so many emigrant Chinese, many of whom have lived outside the Middle Kingdom for generations, he still cared deeply about his country and people.
He said that, when I’d gone into meditation I had gone deeply quiet and the whole room had changed. I became aware that, although most of these people will have read and heard about meditation, few will actually have felt the darshan, the vibrational radiation, that can arise. There they were, stuck in their armchairs with nothing to do, while this guy at one side of the room was going somewhere that, on some level deep in their psyches, they knew they needed themselves to visit – faced as they too were the with threat of death.
The nurses were being overcautious with me though. I was supposed to leave by 4pm but someone had come in insisting I be kept there till 6.30, just in case. I told them this would not be necessary. But they could not go against authority. I showed them the places where I had been injected, which weren’t bruised or swelling, and reminded them that I had just hobbled all the way to the surprisingly well-stocked W H Smith’s at the main entrance and back, to get some gluten-free snacks which, astoundingly, they did not have available even in a cancer ward when they dished out refreshments. Eventually they ran out of excuses and I left at 6pm.
When I got to the main corridor, the guard, who had seen me go past on the way to the shop, now decided I couldn’t go that way to the main entrance. “But I’ve just walked 90% of the way there and you allowed me to do that”. “It’s the Covid regs – sorry it’s a pain in the ass”. He was a nice chap. “Well, I understand that, but it’s not a pain in the ass I’ll get but a wet bum, because I’ll need to sit down on the way and, as you can see, it’s raining…”. Nevertheless, old peg-leg had to walk round the hospital to get to the car park to find Lynne, who was going to take me home.
We got home, lit the woodstove, had a cuppa and detoxed from the day’s encounter with modern civilisation and its rules, timetables, regs and electrosmog. I was buzzing on Dex, and Lynne had to tolerate my rattling away for hours with my mind on overdrive until eventually we went to bed. She said she could smell the chemicals in my body. I lay there churning until I drifted off.
But I was alright. I seem to be tolerating the Dara (Daratumamab) well – that’s the new drug I’m on. The Velcade my body recognises, and I had had no problems with it last time. The Dex, meanwhile, though it charges its price in side-effects, does work well, and last winter I could feel that it was one of the most effective drugs I was taking. But it’s a bit like a cross between speed and cocaine in its psychoactive effects, and it heightens my Asperger’s symptoms a lot.
I’m on two other drugs too – an antiviral called Aciclovir and a kidney protector called Allopurinol – but I’m on a lot fewer drugs than last year, and that’s a relief. My body-psyche is more familiar and less shocked by the process than it was last year, and I don’t have the excruciating back pain I had then – so in this second round it is different.
So the anticipations I had had were just that: anticipations. Thus far, it is unfolding well. It’s difficult being on chemo, and writing this blog has been hard work, but it’s not as difficult as I thought it might be, and the Dara is easier on me than the Cyclophosphamide I was taking last year, which felt like being hit by an armoured bulldozer.
For the first time I’ve met my doctor and cancer nurses in person. Last year I had been treated at Torbay hospital in Devon, so the people at Treliske didn’t know me. During Covid lockdown I’ve had only phone and video consultations with one person, Liz, my doctor. So I felt quite on my own through much of 2020, as if held at a rather impersonal arm’s length during the Covid crisis. But now we were up close and personal.
I liked John, a fortysomething CNS (clinical nurse specialist). I think he figured me out quite well and had met people like me before. I get the feeling he’d done his fair share of raves and festivals before he had kids and got a ‘responsible’ job, so I was within his range of experience. This was true also for another nurse who, at a slack moment, came to say she too was a vegetarian – but I could tell she kept it quiet amongst her colleagues, rather like it was the 1980s – and to ask me a few questions about meditation.
And if you’re wondering why the number nine was significant to me as a day-sign, well, The Nine, some high beings for whom I wrote a book in the early 1990s, who jokingly used to call me Paladin Saladin, are at the root of my ‘spiritual genetics’. They’re like meta-grandparents who had placed the order for the weaving and construction of my soul. So, to me, they were signalling that they were with me and it would be alright. And they were, and it was. And so it goes.