Aloneness and Loneliness

This is for people who are alone or feel themselves to be alone. This issue is frequently framed in the terms and perspective of the peopled, while many of the alone tend to be outblasted on this subject by the beliefs of the peopled – the idea that aloneness is something to be rescued from.

Here’s the rub: being alone is not a bad thing. Feeling lonely is difficult, though it also has its gifts. Aloneness and loneliness are two different things: one is a fact and one is a feeling.

Part of me has always been a hermit (the other part public), so I’ve been here, in that aloneness place, many times throughout life, sometimes willingly, sometimes not, and loss has been a big life-issue for me. At present I am alone for about two-thirds of the time and I live in an isolated place, remote from the madding crowd, a place of buzzards, jackdaws and gulls.

Loneliness has various components. One is the feeling of lack of company and closeness – missing people. This is exacerbated when it’s unwilling (as with refugees, people separated by fate or by difficult choices, and the bereaved or alienated). But it can be hard even when chosen. When I moved to the far end of Cornwall I knew that old friends were unlikely to visit me and I miss them, but it was my choice – instead I talk to them in my thoughts or online.

The issue is not just to look at the hard side and judge aloneness in terms of what is lost. Everything in life has its compensations. Sometimes it’s difficult figuring out what we’re gaining from adversity, but it’s important to look at it. A lot of the hardship that we feel involves judgements we impose on ourselves and others’ judgements we take on our shoulders. This has been my story and one consequence is that now, in late life, my backbone has literally given way (as a result of bone marrow cancer) yet this experience has really helped me shed a lot of that psychological load.

I’ve long been an author, editor and online content-creator. To do what I feel called to do, I’ve had to put myself under lockdown many times. When I wrote The Only Planet of Choice in 1992 I was out of sight for 20 months – some people thought I’d moved away! Generally, my self-imposed lockdowns have been regarded as anti-social – as if I’m uninterested in and don’t care about people. But no, if I don’t lock down, how can I do what I’m here for, that people like me for and seem to benefit from? The funny thing is that, writing another book in 2020, suddenly I haven’t been anti-social but doing exactly the right thing! My 2020 lockdown started in October 2019, due to cancer, not Covid.

There’s another aspect to aloneness. Lack of stimulus and interaction can lead to a literal slowing of the psyche. This helps if one needs to unwind from a busy life, but after a longer period it leads to a crisis of energy and orientation. This is happening for many aloners, and it affects the old particularly, and those with long-Covid and fatigue – and prisoners too. I’ve noticed it in myself. I’m pretty creative, and I don’t just sit there, yet I’ve been drying up recently. By degrees. Talking to myself too much.

I overcome this in three main ways: inner journeying, pursuing an interest and going out in nature. Recently I’ve been wading through history books about the Ottomans and the conflicts of the Britons with the Saxons 1,500 years ago – that’s how I get through long hours in bed.

I think inner journeying is important for people who are bedridden or fatigued – and we do it anyway, in our woozy inner meanderings. But it can be done more proactively, and there are methods and ways to encourage it. Make it into a project. You have been given a gift of aloneness that gives you space to do this, and for much of your life you have not had such opportunities. Make a project of your inner musings and wanderings – put it to use.

When you’re alone, it’s really good to get on with activity projects too. I usually have some things that demand thought and focus and some things that are easier or more druderous, some that are creative and some that need some discipline. This is something you can do with your life that has little or nothing to do with other people: it’s yours, and no one can change that.

A solitary time can be the birthplace of something new. All of the big projects I’ve set in motion throughout my life have been conceived when I’m alone. The quiet isolation has given me vision time, inspiration space, healing, resolution, exploration and enrichment of the human in me. This is a choice – a personal one. It’s what Buddhists call a turning in the deepest seat of consciousness.

It often involves coming to peace over many issues. We need to stop beating ourselves up, running ourselves down, diverting ourselves with fear, guilt, shame and self-doubt. These blockers cause us to withhold our talents and gifts. Get this: if you care about this planet and about humanity, then activating your talents and gifts is not a choice but a duty. It’s what you’re here for, to rise to the best of your potential and to make a contribution. Forget should. Do what you can, and creatively, and your way. Whatever that is. That can include things that society or the people around you don’t necessarily deem productive or advisable.

Even if accepting aloneness doesn’t lead to dramatic outcomes, or even if we’re slowly dying, there’s something profound here about coming to peace. We all have regrets, painful memories, shadows from the past. I do too. We need to recognise them, even cherish them, and release them. They do little good, except to teach us what not to do again. Sometimes we can act to redeem these issues with the people concerned and sometimes we cannot.

Even if we cannot, releasing them still, in a funny and mysterious way, relieves the situation with people we no longer even have contact with, or we cannot face, or they might even be dead. In all interactions and conflicts it always, always, takes two to tango, and we can do something about our bit – the emotional tangles within ourselves that have complicated the issue for us and for them. Shed that load. Forgive and be forgiven. Move on.

Then there’s the fear of madness, deep in the Western psyche. Fear that you’re losing the plot, disengaging too much from groupthink and from that safe set of deeply embedded, culturally-defined judgements that were hammered into us as we grew up, about what’s right and wrong. Well, here’s a thought: in my life I have led and been part of hundreds of sharing circles, and it has been clear that many of the most insightful contributions in such circles have come from the quiet ones, the ones who struggle to articulate themselves. The ones who anticipated that they’d be misjudged or they’d say it wrong. But they can bring forth gems that they’ve mulled over very carefully, and sometimes quiet people hold the ace cards.

Quietness and disengagement are not madness, and just because society harps on endlessly about ‘mental health’, it doesn’t mean you ‘have a condition’. You see, society is mad, absolutely insane, and everything is seriously upside-down. Madness simply means that you differ from a mad consensus. You might be on your own with that, except for people who understand you, but that’s not the main issue. The main issue is that our world today is steered by people who are so busy and peopled that they don’t know themselves well enough. They don’t have time and space to look at what’s really going on. There’s something in aloneness that allows us to anchor to deeper verities, and the majority or the dominant consensus in society can be based more in hearsay than in reality. This is a global problem. And rural areas (most of the world) are being governed by people in big city buildings.

There’s more to say on all this, but I’ll stop here (my brains are giving out). But here’s a message from old Paldywan Kenobi to friends and strangers out there who are on their own: be alone well. Do your best with it. Exploit its possibilities. This transforms loneliness into an aloneness that is at peace with itself.

Oh, and one more thing. Absence makes the heart grow fonder. Lynne, my partner, and I, are together about one-third of the time (she lives two hours’ drive away), and sometimes we miss each other. Yet, sincethis is so, we have an amazing relationship that works really well. For me, aloneness makes those relationships that I do have so much more meaningful. You can be close to people even when you’re far apart, even when you don’t know where they are and what they’re doing.

Sometimes I find myself thinking of a faraway or long-lost friend, having good inner discussions with them, and then, later, I find out they’re already dead! So, with people you love, even if distant or gone, listen, and talk to them inside yourself, because you are together at that time. If anyone accuses you of being mad, just remember, they’re afraid. Afraid of their aloneness, afraid of getting caught out, exiled to the far-off realms of ‘mental illness’.

For the truth is, together or apart, there are light years between all of us. Yet we’re all here together, and this is it. No one is here by accident, and this is what we came for. So if you find yourself alone nowadays, remember, do it well. There are probably a billion souls on Earth who are alone, whether stuffed away in a high-rise or hidden away up a mountain, so you’re in good company.

Okay, I’ll leave you alone now. Time to put the kettle on. Love, Palden.

Forgiveness

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Staggering around with a zimmer frame at the age of 69 wasn’t part of my plan. But then, I’m being taught a new level of acceptance: what is, is, and that’s that. Simple. It’s fascinating, because this process brings up issues, issues about the acceptance I’ve faced in life.

I’ve been searching inside myself for the causes of my bone marrow cancer. There are the obvious causes such as radiation exposure, environmental toxins, vaccines, fillings… though I’ve had a reasonably good diet and lifestyle for fifty years, for what it’s worth. But there are deeper causes too.

I’ve been going through a deep forgiveness process with my late mother. I don’t think she really wanted me or felt ready to have me when I came along. During pregnancy my father went far away to start a new job and she was, in effect, a single mother at my birth and for the first 4-5 months until she, my elder brother and I moved to join my father in our new home. Things had not been at all easy after WW2, but my parents made sacrifices, worked hard and did their best in a hard situation, and bless them for that.

I was reluctant to be born. I knew I had to do it, but it was a teeth-gritting thing. I didn’t come for the chocolate and rewards: I came because my soul knew there was a job to be done. In my birth chart the Moon squares Saturn and the Sun conjuncts it – a lot of rock-and-hard-place stuff. So my mother and I matched each other, and we did what we had to do. Don’t complain. Don’t make a fuss. Think how lucky you are. So we did. We made do. Throughout my life I’ve accepted many things that weren’t easy. Not least having loads of shit dumped on me and terrible dishonesties, and dealing with it.

This has made me good at working in war zones and other challenging situations, and without this gritty attitude a lot of things wouldn’t have happened and a lot of people wouldn’t have been inspired to break through in their lives. So it has paid off and I’m happy about that. I’m grateful too for a heart and a conscience that is relatively clean – as they go. This cancer experience allows me to drop stuff, forgive the past and draw a line on it, starting a new life. It has been my story – starting over again and again.

So cancer, for me, is a gift in disguise. Right now, I’m filled up with chemicals, my hands shake, I’m behaving weirdly on steroids, yet I’m growing stronger. I can now get out of bed to fetch something or go to the toilet! This is a big achievement. Sounds funny. But it gives me more freedom and relieves Lynne of some of her carer’s duties. So the chemicals are beginning to work. They’re doing so partly because of the compensatory holistic remedies I’m taking and also, I believe, because of attitude.

This is a core issue around healing: spirit, belief and will-to-live. Without these, the healing juncture I’m in becomes more empty. What am I doing this for? What is there to live for? What will I do differently with a possible five, ten or fifteen years? If my spirits are infused with hope and a reason to keep going, I shall stay alive as long as I need – this I believe, and I’m betting on it. I’m also starting to write a book – my eleventh.

I’m writing down all that I understand about the prehistory of West Cornwall, dense as it is with ancient sites. To me, these ancient sites represent a neolithic and bronze age geoengineering project working with the very issues of climate, biodiversity and human society that we face today. There’s even a chance that the bronze age megalith-building project was a response to an earlier climate catastrophe or a plague that severely reduced the people of neolithic Cornwall around 3000 BCE.

For fifty years I’ve been confronting sceptics, in the form of archaeologists, academics and people who believe they’re being rational when actually they’re being emotionally subjective, hanging on to a worldview that lacks imagination and doesn’t really work when it comes to understanding the megalithic culture.

This came to a head in September when I published some research in a Facebook group, asking for people’s insights. What I got was a put-down, with ideological scepticism from two characters who closed down the conversation from its start. These are what astrologer Rob Hand calls ‘Saturnine brain-police types’, or people who consider it their duty to protect others’ thoughts from subversion and self-questioning.

These two shut down all debate amongst the other people in the group. So much for peer review. Then came the cancer diagnosis. After that I made a deep-seated decision: to come out with it, speaking my truth and ideas more clearly, in a well-put way, to give these quasi-rationalists a counterswipe and lay out a completely different picture. Because beliefs such as theirs are destroying the world.

It’s already part-written on the Ancient Penwith website, but I’m sharpening it and no longer hedging. This is stage one of my revival process. With other interests – parapolitics, society, humanitarian work, extraterrestrials, the world’s future – there’s more to do before I pop my clogs. If, that is, life gives me the time and grace.

Problem with mission-driven people is that we don’t let up until the job is done. It’s relentless. Meanwhile, the vision of love and peace with which I emerged into adulthood in the 1960s hasn’t happened. That’s been hard to live with, but it’s what happened anyway.

There’s a choice here to shrug shoulders and give up – resignedly getting stuffed and drunk at Christmas instead – or to beaver away endlessly toward a historic-scale goal that won’t be fulfilled quickly, though in the next life or the one after that there’s a greater chance. This motivates me now. In between cups of tea.

This is the core of our healing process, whether or not it’s cancer egging us on. What are we here for and what are we doing? Right now, a Saturn-Pluto conjunction is happening, with its peak on 6th-14th January. Last time this happened it was the Falklands War and the Polish Solidarinosz uprising in 1982. It’s about ruthlessly hard facts – not what you want, but what you get. What actually works? What’s really true? How hard are we willing to work for it? When actually will we lose our fear?

Solstice and Christmas are a time for reflection and there are things worth contemplating instead of getting blotto. Do we really want to go along with a mass-murder of turkeys or do we truly support ecological sustainability? I’m one of the awkward squad on such matters, an Aspie like Greta, who keeps bloody well stirring things up. Cancer is sharpening my wits and undermining my hypocrisies. Yet this honesty process brings a feeling of relief, an unburdening of complicity. It’s literally enlightening my weak hips, making them more able to support me.

To the extent that I can now stand up, leaning precariously on my ‘walker’ (zimmer frame), tottering into the kitchen to cheer up Lynne, who is valiantly working away at all hours to earn a living because our wondrous system of social care in Britain doesn’t actually support cancer carers like her. Saturn and Pluto are doing their business here with cringeing efficiency.

So, Happy Everythings, everybody. This is what we get! Choose your devils to blame (good old Boris), but don’t forget the devil within. We can turn this round. Everything is a gift. A clock is ticking. Now it’s time to make good. That’s what’s happening for me, at least – that itchy feeling inside that winkles out a further turning in the deepest seat of consciousness.

Forgiving first involves remembering, and not forgetting. It’s worth remembering awkward things, and things that need repeated re-forgiveness. Forgive the world. Yes, it’s hard. But forgive the world. Because it’s an uncanny kind of mirror.

With love, Paldywan