It’s been an indecent stretch of time since my last post, and I’ve had a few of you check in to see if I’m still alive and kicking.
The short answer is YES! Otherwise I wouldn’t have written this post. I’ve even included a pic of me and my dog Satch, to prove the point!
Nonetheless, I have been delayed and distracted by items forcing themselves onto my plate. Since my last falconry blog, I’ve had four hospital stays (one of them within the past week), two bouts of surgery, being zapped by radiation over Christmas, and then potentially being recalled again as I write this.
Indeed, I’m at another point where I seriously need to re-evaluate where my health is going, vs what my mind and emotions want my body to do. What my ego (and other people) think I should be doing, vs where my core spirit needs to be.
During my latest hospital stay, the lead oncologist read my reports, without ever having met me before. When he saw me, he was honest and said he expected me to be dead. Instead he found me fresh faced, with a strong voice, able to move around (albeit like an old man), and mentally alert.
My reports, however, indicate that my spleen and left kidney are damaged to the point of being unrecognisable, my liver is mostly tumour, I have multiple tumour locations in my rib cage and spine (with associated fractures), and it has also spread to my lungs and has swollen my lymph nodes.
I’ve been through several rounds of contemplating departing this body, since I was diagnosed back in May 2017. Each time peeling away another layer from the onion.
However this time, I’ve been experiencing terror around being trapped, difficulty breathing (both in reality and in the dream world), and claustrophobia. It’s something I’ve never, or very rarely experienced in the past – despite designing and building tunnels for a living!
Nevertheless, I feel this is something that I need to face up to, regardless of what may or may not happen. When I eventually pass away, I do not want to be in a state of fear or panic. Especially in the dreamworld – if I’m unable to pull an emergency cord, and escape from an induced coma.
I need to shed what expectations both I, and others have of me for surviving.
- Of the happy life I that I wanted to lead once recovered. Having a wife, kids, home, being financially supported in a worthwhile vocation.
- Of the various people and spectacular parts of the planet I want to visit or perhaps even live in.
- The desire to help the needy, and live a life of service – no matter what shape or size this comes in. Especially with all the lessons and wisdom I’ve picked up during y life and this illness.
This is not to disparage all the openhearted souls who have helped me along this path. All of these notions have been lovingly laced into my own existence by loved ones, well-wishers, and healers. Fantastic souls who want me to be rid of this condition, and see me at the top of my health.
They (you) have brought me immense strength during some of my darkest hours, and deserve immense gratitude.
I’ve been desperately wanting, and looking forward to doing all of the above. I think it’s one of the main planks of my strength, and has sustained my warrior spirit for so long. Having a strong sense of purpose is an incredible tool to possess – no matter what anyone’s life situation is.
As you can tell, the truth of the matter is that I still have a very strong drive to live. A drive that has its own untamed fire, which can’t be switched off by flicking a switch. Despite what I’ve written, it feels good to be alive. I’ve become so attuned and grateful for the minor fragments of beauty and joy that fill each day, that I don’t want to give any of it up.
Yet now I feel as though it may have been taken a bit far. It’s hard for me to tell.
They say you need to run as fast as you can to stay exactly where you are. I think I am, but in the case of the disease progression, the Doctors tell me I’m slowly falling behind. When I see their reports, I can’t disagree.
If you’ve ever seen an episode of “The Gladiators”, you might recall the “Travellator” apparatus. This is a sloped escalator that the contender has to run up, but the escalator is moving in the opposite direction to the intended direction of travel. It feels as though I have 95% of the power to stay exactly where I am, but I’m slowly drifting backwards. A good effort, which is providing more time, but doesn’t get me to the top.
That’s how I’m starting feel with this process. A warrior can only wield their spear for so long.
So, is this will to live now a gift, or a hindrance? What does my spirit really want to do? Stay, or go?
I feel as though I have more work to do around this question, and indeed work left to do in this existence.
In terms of shedding my attachment to this world (which is different to giving up the fight), I would need to;
- unweave my outlook I mentioned above, and take a more detached view. To view the situation with more of a sense of equanimity,
- have the discipline not to be seduced by its promises or rewards of “survival”. At least for the internal reflection phase.
- possess the strength of character not to hold on or be attached to any disappointment if I have to let go of this dream.
Don’t get me wrong, if a miracle cure or spontaneous healing lands on my lap then I’ll take it!
By that, I’m not talking about juicing thousands of pounds worth of cannabis, eating apricot kernels, or shoving a newly discovered tropical berry up my backside.
Yet further unwinding is what I must do for my next stage of healing (which isn’t physical). This is regardless of what the next chapter of my fate may, or may not hold. Dispelling the sense of fear and terror that’s been building up is something that must be done.
Whilst wading through these shadows, I’ve had a few trails of golden breadcrumbs to keep me curious. They are in the form of mini-projects that almost seem designed to boost my purpose for being here. I’ve split them down into 3 items below.
As you can imagine, I’ve picked up a fair amount of knowledge around the subject and wish to pass it on for others to use. Hence I’ve been in the recording studio. I’ve had 4 audio instructional files recorded and edited professionally, in order for others to build up their own practice. I hope my voice doesn’t put you all to sleep!
Furthermore, I’ve also created a template spreadsheet based on my own personal copy. This is so others can also log their progress, and to also provide encouragement. Every little helps to keep us all on the straight and narrow!
However, the jewel in the crown is a detailed guide that covers the theory around the topic of using one’s voice for acoustic healing. This is especially useful when learning about the subject, or carrying out the practice from the view of someone who could be physically impaired. Someone who wants a quick “pick me up” guide to get them going, and then who can go back and brush up on the theory, as they feel called to do so.
Should the worst happen sooner than expected, the intention is to have as much as my knowledge preserved, in order for others to build upon it. This is a high priority item for me, as it’s the preservation of my legacy. However as you can imagine, I’ve had to prioritise my medical care and recovery over this, which has slowed me down.
Finally my chanting teacher, Richard Down, has kindly conducted a number of video interviews with me. This in order to combine these into a neat set for others to pick up, and to binds the information together. We have over 2 hours of footage that we are trying to sculpt down to 3 minutes, so the game is on!
The Ecuador Documentary has always been on the cards, and we now have an Editor (Cynthia Chen) on board. My task is collating archive footage to mix it up a little bit. These are essentially old videos from when I was young and cool 😊.
We have a good team on board, and I have high confidence that the scheme will be a success. It’s set up so that if I pass away before production, my family can take over my review role, and there are enough staff on the filmmaker’s side to ensure completion.
As an update, the rest of the team are organising a trip to Ecuador in March, which will add another location and a deeper dimension to what we already have.
Articles in the media. I have two potential pieces (to be written by others), which have to be pitched to the publications. These have different likelihoods of success, so I don’t want to reveal anything ahead of time. Despite this, it means I can put minimal input into them, if my energy levels do not allow.