This past Christmas, I saw a headline saying ‘Don’t Hug Gran this Christmas’. How sad for gran, and all her loved ones, but these are the times we are living in. Very hard decisions to make, especially when someone’s life seems to be in the balance. The questions we need to ask, are where are those decisions leading us to, and in the end which choice is the path to true overall health? No easy answers there. I would hope many people did what felt right, not out of fear, but what felt truly deeply correct to them. In these times it is hard to decipher what we truly feel is right, so much conflicting information thrown at us daily. If we wear a mask we are seen as doing the right thing. If we don’t hug our loved ones we are saving or prolonging their lives, but both of those directives seem to push directly against what it means to be human; to hug and caress a loved one, to see the smile on a face passing you in the street, or next to you in the line at the supermarket. So many of the current rules have us acting less like loving caring human beings, but are telling us it is what we need to do to help humanity be safe. All so confusing and conflicting.
Is this really the only way to go forward until some undetermined time in the future? Are we truly going to let others dictate our personal lives and freedoms to the extent we have in the past year, clouding our thinking so much that we forsake the spiritual, wonderful creations we all truly are? I know I sound like I am preaching from a privileged soapbox, in many ways, I guess I am. My life of travels and moving around the world has definitely been privileged. Now in the middle of one of the strangest times in the world’s history I find myself once again being amongst the world’s most privileged. Please read on, think of me what you will, but let me explain…..
We moved to where we are over thirteen years ago. When we went to the market on our first weekend here, we knew there was something special about the place. Thirteen years later this small village broke our pattern of constant movement, the promise the area had given us a glimpse of then has only grown. The diversity of people, abundance of alternative thinking, therapies, and lifestyles dot the area and gets added to nearly on a monthly basis. These criteria may not make this place special for everyone, but for us it was exactly what we had been looking for; community, green space, perfect cycling roads, young people and families with different ideas, people eating well, growing their own food and the list goes on. Is it perfect? Of course not, but to live in an area where so many people from around Europe, and the world, have chosen to live gives the region a certain edge that definitely puts me and all I am surrounded with, in that privileged category.
In our small slice of southern France let’s jump ahead to 2020 with strange dilemmas worldwide facing everyone. Hugging gran on Christmas being just one of so many tough choices people are having to make worldwide… well almost. Thankfully in our region of the world we’ve been hugging, kissing, dancing, eating, drinking, and living closely with each other for nearly ten months, and yes, many grans have been hugged and have lived to recount the tale. I urge you to please read on, I just want to share with all of you a different reality that we have been living. The only reason I want to share it with everyone is because I wouldn’t want too many grans not getting hugs from the people they love and visa versa. Maybe, just maybe, these true stories of the last many months might shed a different light on a world story that seems to be playing out the same all over, I can honestly tell you from first-hand experience, it isn’t.
Quick history since Covid-19 became part of the world’s lexicon. Over a year ago, this strange virus and its stories from Asia started so many of us globally wondering wow, what’s this? Then Italy happened, lockdown, isolation, fear, it had reached Europe! Come March 2020 in many parts of the Western world, confinement, masks, social distancing had suddenly thrust itself amongst us all. Along with that, a collective consciousness of fear and/or consent to thinking, ‘I am powerless’, took grip, and has not seemed to let go. This is where many of you reading this and the thousands of people in our area’s stories will start to diverge.
After month one of lockdown people here started wondering, hmmm, what is going on? Yes it’s true we live in a rural area so confining for us was easy – still didn’t feel right, but at first we went with it, expanded our gardens, painted our shutters and listened. At that same time we had friends in Spain who were suffering as their children couldn’t leave the house – same for those in big cities everywhere with not much access to outdoor space. Something irked in the background of our minds, but all the beautiful stories of people singing out together and the pollution-free industrial parts of the world gave everyone hope. I wrote a few blogs in April and May that had wonderful responses, people writing back about how their lives will change and what a wake up call it’s all been. Well again, in this region the wake up call gave a slightly different ring. By the end of the first lockdown in mid-May, many here were already reaching different conclusions about Covid-19 and the way the world was trying to avoid its spread. In our area we took big chances, no one was forced into the experiment of living life normally again, but many took part freely, knowing the possible consequences.
Conversations were lively, conspiracy theories were rife, criticism of Sweden mixed with praise of that same country’s response made for long heated discussions, but the wonderful part was that although the conversations, conclusions, and reactions were varied, the one common denominator was not giving into fear. Since mass media and television is not so common here amongst our circle of friends, the paths many of us took came from the heart, and not a political stance or overzealous religious beliefs. We were coming to separate conclusions, but going back to a normal human existence seemed to be what drew us all together, and together is the key word.
During the first lockdown we gathered clandestinely at night under the ‘Halle’ in our village to talk about what we all felt. It was so freaky, it felt like we were getting together to plan a resistance during wartime, we all faced large fines if caught out at night, but we also felt it was a necessary procedure to move forward. That night an ‘illegal’ picnic gathering was organised for the first Sunday post-confinement, there we could talk about how we all felt in a much larger group, in the light of a beautiful Spring day not feeling like part of the war resistance, but still not totally legal, crazy!
The first weekend after lockdown eight house concerts were organised by local musicians and they were well-attended, people in close contact, a few masks here and there, but mostly music, sharing food, kids all playing with each other and the last concert of the weekend had over 250 people as that is where my son and I lost count. (Average attendance for the first seven concerts about 60 people). There were people from all over the area, and one friend had just flown in from England through eerily empty skies and airports. Sure, the weekend events had the possibility of spreading the disease, and according to the world’s current thought, it was pretty darn probable. The American newspapers later on in the epidemic had a name for it that made big headlines, “Superspreader Events”. We held our breath for a few days…. nothing. The Sunday market would be telling. How would people be reacting? Timid, in masks, would we feel like naughty kids disrespecting what the teacher told us to do? Nope, the market was packed, a small percentage of masks to be seen, but mostly it felt basically back to normal, with the background noise of rules, regulations and a police presence that never existed before.
At the picnic on the next weekend we broke into groups, talked about the different aspects of the Covid fallout. It was interesting as the theories were all out there to be explored, and many passions were expressed on the crowded small field that day in May, risking possible fines for breaking the rules of social distancing, number of people gathering in public, etc.. but at least we were being proactive and questioning ourselves and the wider world beyond our bubble. June started heating up and our collective guards were definitely getting lower and lower. This small ‘Citizen’s Assembly’ was a nice way to get the feeling of what had drawn all of us to the same conclusions, but on very different wavelengths. It is something I feel is lacking in most of the world now; dialogue, citizen’s assemblies, speaking freely of our fears, differences of opinions, outlooks on the virus and the future, a collective consensus on how to move forward, respecting people’s fears, anxieties, and different ideas while doing so. Top down rules and regulations only builds resentment in the long-term, and in the end, lacks diversity of opinion. We as a human family like to feel part of the solution, not just another statistic to be bandied about on spread sheets.
July rolled around and we were all in full normal mode by then. Many laws being, umm shall I say, ignored. A local Associative Café opened its doors to weekly Friday music/dance nights. Food available, live music, dancing, sweating in the summer heat and masks were definitely not apparent. The market pretty much went back to normal. Many of you may be saying how irresponsible, but were we really being irresponsible? The children in the area were learning a valuable lesson that fear can be faced down and not nurtured, and to listen to government directives without questioning their effectiveness, especially coming from world governments that never really seemed to care too much about the world’s well being before, is an essential part of living in a free and evolving society. Plus many of those same kids were at the ‘Citizen’s Assembly’ watching, between playing with each other, their parents discussing the current situation.
It had now been three months of close contact, no masks, hugging and kissing nearly back to normal levels accept for those who took advantage of the situation to drop some social norms they were glad to leave behind. Hitch-hikers, travelers, cyclists, WOOFERs, Workawayers, holiday makers were all arriving in the area, albeit in smaller numbers, but still an international feeling was obvious. Sometimes I actually had to catch myself drifting off strangely hoping for an outbreak so I could actually put my faith in the lock downs, masks and the other insane ways this current situation had changed the world, but no, still no spikes in numbers, and none of us knew of anyone personally who died from, or at that point, even had Covid. I have a good friend in the village who is a doctor, he has also studied Chinese medicine, and he kept me abreast of the situation in the hospitals he was working in in the area. He questioned testing methods, death certificates being put down to Covid that really weren’t, especially in the beginning of the ‘pandemic’ before testing was the norm. His life was not made comfortable at the hospitals because of it, but since when has going against the mainstream of thought been easy? I have lived most of my life outside the mainstream and having faith in what was being fed to the public disappeared a long time ago, and now, with Covid, the world had entered a new phase of the ‘God Syndrome’ when it came to the media. “Surely if that were true I would have seen it on the news.” Hmmmm!?
In August we attended a music festival with well over five hundred people over the weekend, people camping, music, shows, smiling faces, good food, wine, beer and drinks flowing as freely as the normality of human interaction and life being lived and celebrated. People were being drawn to the area and staying longer than they had planned. Many of them feeling being intimate with others, having physical contact, seeing unmasked faces in public again was healing them on so many other deeper levels. Just the other day I overheard a conversation between my daughter and her friends saying how lucky they felt to be able to have contact and living normally, they certainly are. Their group of friends get together often, ski, hike, horse ride, and have parties, a bunch of healthier kids/young adults than these are hard to find. It’s so nice to see them and hear about their exploits. It is also so nice to see how they have all come to make these strong decisions to continue living their life amongst the constant background noise of fear and control. With being surrounded by these healthy attitudes towards life and all its wonderful possibilities, our collective health is definitely benefiting so much .
Some friends moved up from Spain in the Autumn and their parents came down from England in their camping car. He was a cancer survivor. Left for dead by the medical establishment in England 30 years ago, he took an alternative path to healing, which took him to Mexico and now at 70 years old, is alive and kicking to tell the story. That voyage also led him to our area, where after leaving a socially distanced, masked existence in England, he entered our world. It took a couple of weeks to re-adjust to feeling human again, but he’d faced death before, and knew deep down that you can’t do that alone being masked up and living in fear. He and his wife slowly embraced the lifestyle they found here, and they joined the so many others in sticking around just that little bit longer; their two week journey kept on getting prolonged.
Our village and the many others like it that we had heard of from the travelers coming into the area never got any mention on the news. It was sad. We felt we were all beacons of hope, but instead of being in awe of what was happening, we were treated as rebels by the police and what little media coverage there was. Threatened with the closure of the market, the market sellers kept an open dialogue, the mayor had a tough balancing act to perform, but we survived basically pretty unscathed. My son had friends from the biking world who had come down from the area he would be working in later in the summer. One was a bike designer, and fortunately I did an interview with him in our market. If you are interested in bike design, it might be of interest, but to see the market over the summer maybe take a quick look here. Of course the main news elsewhere was of rising numbers, a second lock down, curfews, possible drone surveillance, vaccines, track and trace apps, and the peddling of fear that the population was being trained to embrace, or at least endure, but why no mention of us and the other areas like us out there in a positive light? Sure, the ‘Superspreader Events’ were making headlines, but that is what media does best, hype, fear and manipulation. My degree in mass-communications took me to the inside of that world in a whole different era, before the instant world of digital communication perfected what print media and television alone had been doing so well. I knew for a fact there were areas around Europe and America that were quietly getting on with life normally with no ill effects, certainly worth a study as a probable other door out at the end of a long dark tunnel. In America we’d sadly be labeled Trumpites or religious zealots. Believe me, we are neither. We are a mixed crowd of world citizens just embracing life!
My New Year’s wish is that our story be told, and more importantly listened to. I was at a party with friends recently. We were all having fun, embracing that special moment together, but when Abba’s Dancing Queen came on, I had an emotional response listening to the words. At 17, and indeed all other ages, we should be dancing, loving, and yes, even hugging gran. How sad that so many young people are missing their rights of passage of being young, carefree and human. Screens and technology are lulling us into a feeling of connection, but again as these tech companies gain more and more access to our communication, we lose just that much more to the false feeling a screen gives us, but can never really replace; touch, intimacy, contact, the true interconnectivity we all share as a species. Let’s not cower in the hidden corners of this wonderful world. Get out there and celebrate life, live it. Yes, Covid-19 exists, but life, more importantly needs to be lived, if not it atrophies in a dark corner and becomes a hidden memory of the good old days. Too sad to even contemplate.
Meanwhile in our area we kept being coerced into thinking it was just luck, and the dreaded virus would come to get us one of these days. It reminded me of my life in so many ways, when I was traveling across America on a motorcycle in the eighties, I had family members holding their breath waiting for it to be over so I could finally settle down and stop that dangerous type of travel. So when I moved to Japan in 1987 and bought a bicycle which started a nine-year-long journey of exploration of the world and my place in it, I was faced with comments, and behind my back grumblings of when I would just settle down and live a “Normal” life. As it turned out, I never did, took many supposed risks, lived in different countries, opened debt-free businesses, and am still here to tell the tale. Another parallel to my life of travel then and what is going on now is, I learned very early on not to listen to stories trying to instill fear, such as the many times I heard, “My best friend died on a motorcycle,” and much the like. When I started traveling internationally I basically stopped reading newspapers and watching the news, man it totally changed my outlook on the world, gave me the power to travel on my bicycle alone in many countries, and most importantly, let me form my opinions of the world through first hand contact with no preconceived fears embedded into my brain cells, a very important exercise for me then as well as now.
Oddly enough, on my 59th birthday in October 2020, the second confinement started. My best gift ever while me and my family were watching the president dictating how the next 6 weeks would be, was when my 16 year old daughter’s eyes, moist with tears said to her older brother Louis, “Okay, we’re headed to the mountains to ride bikes, build trails and live life, call Thierry.” Her and her brother’s lives had been drastically turned around by Covid. Louis had lived in America the previous year, had a job lined up in Vermont, where the car he owned, the cabin he was to live in, and his trail-building job all awaited. After two flights back to that life were cancelled he picked up and continued his life here. Chessie, my daughter and I were heading to America to check out the possibility of going to an American high school, but that idea too, all ended with lockdowns and cancelled flights. So Angie and I had a small tingle of parental pride seeing them being so pro-active and choosing to get out and live vibrantly for the next few weeks. Very cool birthday gift. And that is exactly what they did. For three weeks them and a few friends lived together, road bikes in the shadow of the majestic Pyrenees under blue skies and visited other friends in the area, shared food, broke a few rules, but came back so full of life, ruddy and healthy. Unbeknownst to us their first week found them all terribly ill, but the two weeks that followed were pure bliss. As we didn’t have too much contact when they were gone, we had lots of cool stories and an excellent video recounting their ‘confinement’ period in the beautiful valley far away from police, papers to leave the house, and any and all media.
New information on Covid-19 is coming to light in many circles in the health care professional world nearly weekly. So much more is now known about the virus; possible alternative treatments are out there, and survivors of the disease far outweigh those who have sadly succumbed. Misdiagnoses, faulty testing procedures, data that doesn’t add up, and rising suicide and depression rates are now creeping into the news, but seemingly not making much of an impact. For instance, while my kids were riding in the mountains, in Japan suicide deaths in October 2020 out numbered the preceding ten months of Covid-19 deaths in that country. No front page news on that one. I heard through a German friend of mine that the suicide hotlines in Berlin have reached an unprecedented number of calls in the past few months and was increasing. A pandemic of its own? Maybe. Front page news? Nope! Now, the vaccine, which is not really a vaccine as we know them to work. Could it be a genetic modification being pumped into humanity’s collective DNA? Everything has happened so fast, and it feels like we are becoming the R&D for this current vaccine. In just eight short weeks, it is starting to show its cracks with adverse effects and even some deaths. I just hope honesty prevails on the nightly news, or in the newspaper headlines, if we may be going down a dubious track a little too quickly.
Jump ahead to 2021, and the tides have certainly turned. Now my “Normal” existence is even deemed dangerous. Is it though? Have we achieved a certain herd immunity here? Certainly fits the description in many ways, but that is just supposition as we have had no formal studies done. Though rumors of further lockdowns and currently living with a twelve-hour curfew is the current reality we have to carve our life around. We have had some cases of Covid around, but nothing too radical, we briefly heard stories of people dying in the neighboring villages, but although every once in a while they reared their heads and tried to take hold to instill fear, those stories passed mainly unnoticed and never revisited as we kept on living life normally. My doctor friend continued working in hospitals, two in the region and in other parts of France, he was keeping me filled in on what he was seeing from a medical perspective with a slightly different view – man, it was nothing like the visions painted on the media.
We live in a world where fear and hype is such the norm that we don’t even take notice. It becomes part of our genetic make up in a way. Since when has a snowstorm become a “State of Emergency”? When I was young it was called a blizzard, we got off from school, went out sleigh riding, had snowball fights and probably had at least two or three of those “Emergency” climatic occurrences a year, and guess what, we survived; no frostbite, no one that I knew of dead in a snowdrift, no snowballs taking out the younger population. Just like we all survived measles, mumps, chicken pox, and yes even a few strange flu epidemics. Many in my generation seem to forget they are, in today’s modern lexicon, basically unvaccinated or even an anti-vaxer just by default, because we went to measles’ parties, caught chicken pox and, oh, in most cases, had lifetime immunity conferred naturally, no boosters needed!.
I understand that, as I mentioned before, I write from a privileged seat. I can not understand how it is to be in a big city with many more cases around. The fear factor being more palpable in those situations for sure. Of course I know that people are getting on with their lives in those areas too, albeit, with a big asterisk of the “New Normal” hovering everywhere. These strange times have also empowered people in so many different ways. I have friends swimming in the English Channel every morning – ooohhh, chilly, thanks Wim Hoff, people riding bikes more now then ever, ski-touring in empty ski stations, meditating, working out and running have all seen a big rise for those fortunate enough to be able to move on and do so. There are, of course, always silver linings, humans are good at finding and creating them. These stories gladden mine and everyone’s heart, as they should. Choice is what it all comes down to. Yes, we in the rural areas have a different perspective, but I know of many people being cautious even here. I see people once in a while walking on the empty rural roads around my village and surrounding ones fully masked in the beautiful countryside, I think how deeply embedded fear can make us do some strange things! Everyone needs to make their own decisions and come to their own conclusions, but that is the trick, do we truly come to our own conclusions when everything we read, see or let in to our consciousness arrives from a narrower and narrower perspective. Just like when we raise our children, step out onto a big city street, or travel to an unknown part of the world, faith in ourselves, and the underlying love that humanity thrives on is what allows life to move forward. Fear stops us in our tracks, freezes our ability to think straight, and can lead us to make some very bad decisions. Like anyone reading this who have made different decisions, or those of you who have been working in the hospitals amongst the fear, death and confusion, let us all in any way we can, be empowered by the current situation to find our inner strength, our humanity and enter healthy discourse with others, be open to listen and accept the so many other stories out there being told, division gets us nowhere.
Is our area down to plain luck? Of course that is a possibility, as there are so many other possibilities. Yes, we live in a green area, but we are not cut off from the world. We have travelers constantly passing through, we have been exposed to Covid and have had cases around. Have we built up an immunity the way these viruses normally will? Remember SARS? After 18 months it was basically gone. Look at some of the headlines from back then, masked faces, fear, death and destruction predicted, but yes, we humans pulled through, incorporated the virus into our genome, and lived to see another day. I recently watched an interview with a doctor saying that we need to get out there, let this virus run its course, mutate, get into our collective genomic make up naturally and, by now, we may be living in a whole different world. Unfortunately many of those different voices are being shut down. Censorship on Youtube, Instagram, Facebook and many other platforms have been quite efficient at shutting down dissenting voices. Not good for healthy dialogue.
The PCR tests have now been proven to give a high number of false positives and was never developed to be a diagnostic test in the first place. Are the hospitals really overrun with people with Covid, or are there people in there with other health problems testing positive for Covid? With so much different data coming to light, it does need to be questioned. There are a lot of ways to do your own research, but as I just mentioned, dissenting voices are getting much harder to be heard. It seems that much of humanity is living in a pretty unhealthy way right now; locked away, wearing masks, disinfecting our hands everywhere when we do step out the door to go shopping, low lying stress being the default, all combined helping to cripple our immune systems in every way known. We can’t forget that the human genome is made of viruses. We are alive today, reproduce the way we do, have developed over the millennia the way we have because of viruses and our interaction with them, bacteria and of course our fellow human beings. Our immune systems thrive, improve and constantly need to be challenged and primed naturally.
If you feel the vaccine will make you healthy and ready to face the world again, then please do it, but read the long sheet of effects first. If it doesn’t confer lifetime immunity to all strains of the virus present and future, which is impossible, maybe question that. It has also been mentioned by scientific research that as it can possibly modify our DNA(everything still in experimental stages), negative effects could be triggered in months or even years, those long-term effects hard to trace as we change our body deals with this and other viruses. I and so many others feel it is a risky, possibly dangerous path to almost be forcing on the human population. Humans have not evolved over the millennia to become pin cushions for multi-national billion dollar corporations, we are so much more than that. Unfortunately my gut feeling tells me in six months time many of you reading this will know of someone first-hand who had an adverse or even deadly reaction to the vaccine. I personally rather put my money on the human race being strong enough to see this through. Looking to big-pharma with more yearly boosters, as we wait scrambling for a one hit cure, or anything to get us back to normal just doesn’t seem to feel correct. Do we really want to be tracked, traced, and jabbed for the rest of our existence? In California, by the time a person reaches 18 years of age, they will have had 72 jabs, wow!! The average American over 65 years old is on 6 medications, are we really as healthy as we should be with all this intervention? One thing we can’t forget is that first and foremost these mega corporations are not altruistic, they are huge companies that need to make big profits. Merck for example plowed 10 billion dollars into research and development last year while also reinvesting 14 billion dollars back into the company, playing the Wall Street game, and showing by it’s financial priorities where the reality lies in those companies, making money, and from the few examples alone in this paragraph, it would seem an unhealthy society is their best customer.
I am reading a book right now talking about how our futures may look so different if we get back to simple living. A quote from A Small Farm Future, written by Chris Smaje sums up for me the path we are dangerously treading by putting so much faith and power into the hands of a few companies. ” …..profit wants more profit, so once profit-seekers have risen above the checks and balances that normally keep them down, they step in and reorder societies, or the world to create it.” Follow the money, look at newspapers peddling the fear, see where big-pharma is invested, look at big tech and join the dots. It may take a lot of time, and a bit more research, but our future depends on it, let’s not collectively give more power over to those who are so powerful already. I have not even touched on the break down of society in purely economic terms, that is not really what this blog is about, but luckily, once again our region supports the small businesses and are willing to get out on the streets to break the rules and show it. Watch or give a quick skim through my most recent video if you have time to see what I mean.
People die, I won’t say unfortunately, because it is the cycle of life. Sometimes it is untimely, but we can’t run from death, we can’t hide from it either, we need to accept it, especially when it comes to those at the end of their life cycle. We will all be there too one day. Young people dance, kids get colds, we all get ill once in a while, and life moves on. One thing I feel for certain, sitting in our houses, allowing fear on big screens and headlines to be thrust into our collective minds convincing us that life is dangerous, and we are too weak to fight this disease as we let our immune systems get compromised daily is not the way to face the future. I am asking you instead of just getting angry with me because I am sharing a different point of view, to find at least one or two sources of information that don’t come from under the same umbrella of big-pharma-finance-media-tech. It will be hard to do as they are all so closely entwined in each other’s world. Division keeps us all stuck, let the new normal we move into be a “New Normal” of acceptance that there are so many different paths to health.
Let’s envision that future together where we can all walk out our door, hug gran, breathe in the fresh air mask less and guilt-free, listen to live music with friends, talk to a stranger, go out to eat, live in the luxury of seeing a smiling face on the street and return the smile in kind, feel the rise in oxytocin as our immune systems get a real boost of being human, living in strength, not in fear. I can tell you that from where I sit and write it certainly feels like a good way forward. Can we stop polluting our brains with media hype, division and vitriol? Turn off the television, stop looking at headlines? A hard task as it is so imbedded in the modern lifestyle. Google news just a swipe away, every minute, every hour, every day.
To steal a phrase from a movement I may not totally be in agreement with, but like their slogan, CHOOSE LIFE! We are living in times where the prevention has currently done a lot more damage than the illness. I sincerely hope the above-mentioned Japanese and German suicide tragedies don’t become common stories in the next few months and years. There are many other paths we can take, and thankfully many of those are being trodden and explored now.
Love is the answer. That was the overwhelming thoughts and even words in an interview I did with a musician called Steve Sheehan I met a few years ago at a party in a whole different existence, in our local market he told me his story, which is beautiful and inspiring, just as the video above I put in of John who took a different path to cure his stage-three cancer. Let’s leave behind the fear, take back our true power to heal, love and be human. We are so worth it, and the life we will all lead when we make those choices, I promise you, will be absolutely magical, really!