Carrots and Cabbages

Musing today on the current state of life in Merrie England, as it was once known.

Covid-19 is no longer headline news, it seems.  Oh there are those who have it still.  I’ve spent much of the past week or so on video calls to snuffly, feverish grandchildren and a pale, coughing daughter with enough energy to slump on the sofa and little else.  The drama has gone, though – no record-breaking hospital admissions, none of those briefings from Downing Street (well they wouldn’t dare, really, would they?).

So the press has moved on to hunt for new dramas and fear-mongering stories.

At the start of the week news reporters stood shivering outside Number 10 (I mean, why?  Expecting to catch an exclusive of a beleaguered Boris and Carrie clutching cardboard boxes and followed by nannies and children heading out of the door on the walk of shame?) and reporting no news.  Slightly luckier media colleagues lurked in those drafty-looking hallways of Westminster, searching for Tory back-benchers seeking their five minutes of fame.  What could they say – ‘Yes, of course he should have resigned.  Anyone with a hint of integrity would have done so, but this is BORIS we’re talking about here and we still have constituents who kind of admire his cheek and think the rest of them are even worse, so if we boot him out we might end up losing our seats…’?

Eventually, while the Met police – finally stung into action by that Line of Duty video – sift slowly through photos and decide whether to issue a few retrospective £200 fines, it became clear that the news hounds needed to search elsewhere for a feel-bad story.  And there it was, right on cue.  The smart coats and suits from Westminster were packed away as reporters were sent off in more suitable garb to blend in with the good people of the most depressed and disadvantaged towns they could find.  Cost Of Living Rises became the next headline.  Once again the statisticians and slick graphics were back, showing us how hopeless it all is.  The dangers of Omicron may have subsided.  We might not yet have to deal with a general election but within a year vast swathes of the population will have to choose between heating and eating.  With silvered tongues, our media news reporters have found a new way of striking fear and desolation into the populace.

Vegetables, Market, Market StallIt was with their words ringing in my ears that I headed along to my local Co-op for my weekly food shop.  As has been the case for many months now, there were huge gaps on the shelves.  Where once the out-of-season peaches, nectarines, tomatoes, aubergines and mange-tout would have shone enticingly, now there were piles of carrots and cabbages, leeks and parsnips.  The market stalls offered little more.  One had a massive tray of earthy, slug-tunnelled Jerusalem artichokes as its centrepiece, and that triggered a memory.

Way back, around forty years ago, when we struggled to care for our growing family on a single wage and used our allotment to provide most of the sustenance we needed, there were times at the end of winter when we had to resort to the un-killable Jerusalem artichokes to provide a meal.  It was a desperate choice.  Peeling them was well-nigh impossible and when you did, the tiny nuggets of food offered little flavour.  Compared to them, those carrots and cabbages were starting to look quite appealing…

I took my mind back past the fear-mongering press reports to the pledges made at COP 26.  Yes, we said we’d use less fuel, so hot water bottles and fingerless gloves on the coldest days are a good thing.  So is the lack of foods from far-flung places and all the air-miles they involve.  It’s February, for goodness’ sake; time to eat the fruits of the earth in our locality.  It feels right.  It feels sensible.  The cabbages and root veg are plentiful and cheap.  I’m no cook, but I’m going to enjoy the slaw with baked potatoes, the casseroles and the stir fries made with local produce.  I will, though, avoid the Jerusalem artichokes while I can.

Where Was I Last Night?

I’m fairly sure, now, I know where I was.  Things had been building up to it, if you know what I mean.

When I say ‘last night’, I’m talking in temporal terms, obviously.  The experience I had took place sometime between around 2am and 7:30am this morning.  Since my mind was dreaming, though, the timescale for the events didn’t belong in that time at all.  It was, like all dreams, non-local.

What I recall most clearly is the excitement, the enthusiasm, the anticipation my fellow protagonist and I were experiencing.  We were family, although he had no obvious counterpart in my current life.  I’d describe him as a sort of brother, maybe even a twin.  All of our attention was focused on the task before us.  Each of us was choosing a new adventure.

I can only describe what we were examining in terms of geometry.  There were tubes – dark flexible cylinders or wormholes perhaps – overlaid with uneven grids and lines of bright, greenish light which intersected in interesting ways.  Each was a different ‘adventure’.  The tubes were the destinations, while the patterns showed different timeframes.   We poured over every detail with intense concentration and excitement.  The more complex the slashes of lines and the patterns they created, the more enthusiastic we became.

“Oh, this one looks interesting!” he would exclaim, pointing to a place where a diagonal crossed a group of parallel lines then veered away in a dynamic tick shape.

“Yeah,” I would laugh, “You might need a bit of help with that one!  I could probably lend a hand there.”

Ever had your palm read, or an astrology reading?  They are the nearest analogies I can think of.  Every line and every crossing had huge significance.  They represented the challenges, the exciting parts, the fun of this unique adventure.

Each of us was searching for a location and a timeframe within it that would give us a thrilling rollercoaster of an experience.  There was no fear or trepidation, no hunting for the easy bits.  We both wanted a full-on white-knuckle ride with plenty of problems to solve and puzzles to overcome.

Despite our emotional closeness, we were aiming for quite different adventures.  There was no regret that we would be separated, but there seemed to be an underlying acceptance that we could, at any point, call on one another – and on a rather nebulous ‘back-up team’ who seemed to be lurking nearby – if we needed support at any point.

I was beginning to wake up – to return to the physical world.  I didn’t want to!  This was fun.  There was another pattern on another tube I was desperate to explore.  My companion, too, was still busily engaged in the activity.  I managed to climb back into the dream state and spend a little more time there, but the physical body was becoming restless and finally shook itself free of that other existence, bringing my mind back to its daytime residence.

Now it was time to consider what I’d seen from a human perspective.  Surely that happy, excited, fearless aspect of me had been wherever-it-is we go between lives.  My companion and I had been selecting our next incarnation.  Everything pointed to that conclusion.

As I said, things had been building up to it.  Recent conversations, news items, personal experiences, channeled messages from others I follow on social media… even a friend who just yesterday re-read and commented on a post I had written several years ago.  The message had been the same:  We chose this location and this time in which to live this life.  We chose it – warts and all – in order to give it our best shot and see what we could change, what we could figure out, what we could take on and deal with.  Moaning, protesting, trolling or grumbling just won’t do any more.  We judge and complain about our fellow humans but write them glowing eulogies and obituaries when they pass.  We beg and insist that gods, spirit, world leaders, politicians and anyone other than us must change our lives for the better.  No wonder so many channeled beings are metaphorically throwing their hands in the air and reminding us that we chose it, and we intended it to be fun.

So yes, I woke up to an overcast drizzly day in October and a world beset with challenges and problems galore.  I’m off now to try to reconnect with the cheery, excited and optimistic aspect of myself I experienced last night and to bring as much of her hope and enthusiasm as I can into this amazing timeline and space I opted for this time around.

The Truth is (not) Out There

Back in 2012 I wrote a book (Life: A Player’s Guide – still lurking in the musty vaults of Amazon somewhere, I think).  Near the beginning of it, I wrote these words:

My truth works very well for me, and it may well work for you, but please notice that I am not proclaiming it as THE truth.  I am perfectly comfortable with people holding different beliefs to me.  Once I start proclaiming that what I believe is ‘The Truth’, I move into the realms of fanaticism and religion; discrimination and wars.  It makes me right and other people wrong, and that is not a space I want to be in.

So I say instead, “I have found A truth.”

You are free to follow it, or search for one that works better for you.

I stand by that.  I think those were amongst the wisest words I ever wrote.

May be an image of 1 person and text that says ""A time is coming when men will go mad, and when they see someone who is not mad, they will attack him, saying, 'You are mad; you are not like us."" -St. Anthony the Great"The world today seems more factionalised and divided than it was back when I wrote those words, as we are confronted by issues no one can ignore.  This image and quote appeared on a social media post I saw this morning.  Perhaps you can guess the context or viewpoint of the person who posted it.

So OK, let’s take the Covid issue as a case in point – although we could just as easily select global warming or a host of other current issues.

Side A takes a particular stance.  Side B takes a very different stance.  Both sides seek out and pay an impressive array of experts, statisticians and graphic artists to emphasise their point.  There follows a stand-off with both sides spewing out endless media to support their ‘Truth’.

The problems come when the establishment espouses one of the two viewpoints, because once governments have decided which one they believe, they have (or borrow) vast amounts of money to hammer home their Truth as the only one.  This instantly galvanises a counter-establishment which becomes increasingly vocal in proclaiming its alternative Truth.

Once the establishment begins to legislate, the anti-establishment groups begin to unite in acts of protest and defiance.  The protestors and their attitudes vary from nation to nation, depending on their government’s policy.  So in Brazil, for example, they protest in their thousands against President Jair Bolsonaro’s refusal to acknowledge the dangers of what he termed ‘little flu’.  In much of Europe the protests are against vaccination and perceived infringements of liberties.  In the UK, we recently had an interesting situation in which freedom activists went ahead with Saturday marches to protest about being forced to wear masks in indoor public spaces, despite this directive having been repealed a couple of days before!  A shame to bin those carefully made placards, perhaps.

So yes, governments love legislating – it’s what they do.  And protestors love protesting – it’s what they do.

Nurse, Man, Male, Spray, MedicationNow, though, there is the vaccination issue.  Here the truths on every side become ever more woolly and difficult to prove.  Vaccination was a bone of contention long before Coronavirus reared its spiky little head.

The French government has decided to take a hard line – there the ‘health passport’ (proof of vaccination or negative covid test) is already in use in cinemas, tourist sites and nightclubs.  From the beginning of August this will be extended to bars, restaurants, cafés, some shopping malls as well as long distance train or bus services.   Other governments are watching with interest…

Meanwhile, on the other side, I was told yesterday of an elderly man who approached a friend of mine in great distress.  He is on one side of the vaccination debate and his wife is on the other.  He is double-jabbed.  She is not.  She has now told him he must stay away from her and her friends because of the danger he poses to them.  Her argument is that since he has been vaccinated, his DNA has been changed and he has been polluted to the point that he presents a hazard to herself and other ‘unpolluted’ citizens.

It’s a pity St Anthony the Great (apparently there are quite a few St Anthonys.  This one was a third century Egyptian.) did not choose to define either madness or indeed ‘men’.  To either side, if a truth is held to be absolute, those who disagree must be mad.

That’s why I prefer to hold my own truth and not to attempt to foist it on to others.