I had eluded Covid for so long that I began to feel in some way ‘anointed’ – until last week, when the coughing erupted; calling it ‘persistent’ doesn’t match my symptoms, I’ve never experienced such violent coughing. I didn’t test positive till day six, but never doubted I had a virus more powerful than myself. I’m ‘on the mend’, but it hasn’t left me, this brush with mortality.
Nothing is immortal but, only we humans, know we must die. The gift of ‘selfhood’, which is our humanity, does not endure – it changes and is gone – a wave in the sea. My rational mind knows this; tries to accept it; but my subconscious (which runs the show) rejects any ending – behaves as if life goes on indefinitely. When afraid, the psyche stiffens up, starts to look back, petrifies; so it makes sense to look forward, write a blog, tend a garden, whatever…
Carl Jung originated the concept of the collective unconscious – that only a thin veil separates us from a larger, universal consciousness; the garden can connect me to larger rhythms. Though physically depleted, the gleam of spring gets me out this week; seated, moving slowly, with fresh compost, I re-pot tired perennials. Sunlight, birdsong, tiny leaves sprouting, I’m soon immersed in the natural world. This childlike absorption, as in solitary play, may be the closest we humans come to contentment. “For we were born but yesterday and know nothing – our days on earth but the passing of a shadow”.
In his spring statement, Chancellor Sunak said that, for living standards, this will be the worst year since 1956, when records began; yet there is still a reluctance amongst politicians and the media to acknowledge that the country is entering a grave poverty emergency. Our poorest citizens are marked by their limited access to credit, to pay for basic essentials; lives of desperation, where illegal money-lenders operate. Many people will have some emergency money; many will have families/friends who can rally round; but thousands, who live on the edge of our society, will have nowhere to turn, and will need help. They were absent from the spring statement.
I watch less and less news on the Russian invasion of Ukraine – too upsetting. News of war can impact on our mental health and this Conversation piece discusses how to cope. Since Covid, I’ve learned how to create wee rewards for myself; I drive to special places – short walks I enjoy – with a friendly café nearby; these are ‘kindness to Laurence’ episodes – keep me smilin’.
Where I live has no mains gas; our rented cottages are heated by oil. Last year, 1,000 litres of kerosene cost between £400 and £500 – right now it costs over £1,000 to fill my tank – more than double. See TFN article. I mention this to illustrate that were moving into a period of immense disruption to world trade, and not only energy prices will be affected.
While Prince William and Kate Middleton seem perfectly nice people, they should not be visiting the Caribbean until there’s been a formal apology for Britain colonial crimes; we need to begin the process of healing, forgiveness and compensation. The trafficking and enslavement of Africans is among the greatest human rights tragedies in all history.
Finland has been named the world’s happiest country for the fifth year in a row, in the annual UN-sponsored index; the winner is based on people’s own assessment of their happiness, along with social and economic data. The lesson of the report over the years is that social support, generosity to one another and honesty in Govt are essential for wellbeing.
Affirmed by last May’s election. Scotland’s Parliament has a mandate to hold another independence referendum – which Boris Johnson has made clear he will reject. But Westminster’s blocking of such a request, would be the moment when the union ceases to rest on consent and relies on force of law: “what England wants, England gets”…Among Scottish 16 to 35-year-olds, support for independence stands at 72%. Neal Ascherson discusses options.