You, me, us, we are one…

I am you, you are me.
X, Y, Zee to A, B, Cee.
You, me, us, we are one…

When I first listened to Pop Will Eat Itself (aka PWEI) back in the 90’s, one of my favourite tunes of theirs for no apparent reason at the time was X, Y, Zee. I kind of liked the music and the lyrics were a bit cool and nutty. At the height of my web design days (when I was a lowly paid and under-valued civil servant), I had ideas to create my own web design company. I had quite some experience under my belt and if truth be known quite a bit of flair and talent too. Thinking of a name for the venture, I came up with XYZeee, in part due to the song of the same name, and the fact that on every corporate bullshit bingo card, XYZ always comes up.

Sadly my flair in web design was measured in equal parts by my “unflair” in business acumen and engagement, and my first date with design destiny (a flash-based website for a London comedian) crashed and burned and XYZeee was no more.

Something rather “far out” happened today. I drove my daughter to school as I had to run an errand in the car before work, so my wife got her out of her car seat and escorted her up the hill, as I waited in the car for her to return. To the right of me a beautiful grey and white cat (similar to a snow leopard but thankfully not one) popped out from beneath a fence. Again for no apparent reason I decided to “connect” with the cat. I sat in the driver’s seat and meditated, using my reiki charged mudra to try to get the cat to turn around and look directly at me.

It didn’t. Instead it walked down the pavement alongside a bush which by the look and sound of it had some small birds in. The cat carried on down the pavement stopping every now and again to peer into the bush, but again ignoring my psychic current. As it got to the end of the bush and just before it disappeared out of my line of vision I sent a super charged bolt towards it, and then it stopped dead and turned around and looked directly into my eyes for what seemed to be a lifetime, my Arnold J Rimmer “mesma-stare” in full flow. Whether it was pure coincidence, a glitch in the matrix or an indication that we are all linked who can truly say. All I can say is that whenever I see the cat again I will call him by his new name, Schrödinger.

As it wandered off, it got me thinking about “Year Zero” and the beginning of the Universe (quite deep for a Thursday morning) and the fact that if one believes in the singularity theory and the Big Bang, then “you, me, us, we are one”, or more to the point “you, me, us, were one”. If at some point 13.7 billion years ago we were one, then doesn’t it carry forward that we are all still intrinsically linked to every other thing in the Universe, if not materialistically (matter) then perhaps at the mystical quantum level?

If we are all still intrinsically linked, then maybe we can resonate such invisible Universal energies or communicate at the quantum level in a dimension we cannot yet measure with our existing senses or gadgets.So maybe I did commune with Schrödinger after all.

With the phrase “you, me, us, we are one” reverberating around in my noggin, I decided to dig out my old PWEI playlists and listen to the aforementioned song. Some of the lyrics are very interesting too, they even reference a cat…

I am he who is X, Y and Zee, I carry no card, my life is cheap.
Have no worries, I do not fret, some may have what I’m yet to get.

And you may wonder, “Is it how?” a kitten may turn into a cow.
With bells and horns and tinned corned beef.
Forests, profits, plastic High Streets.

I am he who is A, B and Cee,
An easy option, like twentieth century satisfaction guaranteed.
It’s easy…

Let’s steal a spaceship and head for the sun.
And shoot the stars with a lemonade ray gun.
Make a movie and a TV show.
You be Jane, I’m George Jetson.

I am you, you are me, X, Y, Zee to A, B, Cee.
You, me, us, we are one.

From out our window we can see.
Electric sunshine, oxygen factories.
Clockwork tides, synthetic trees.
Just like the real ones on Vee Tee.

Mother Nature and Father Time, used to be good friends of mine.
But now we’ve put them in a home, filed them under, “Uses unknown”.

“No pop, no style”, is a phrase out of phase.
To praise what’s worthwhile, this is as good as it gets.
This is the best…

Let’s catch the last rays of civilization and tune-in to a sub-space station.
Turn up the DJ, let’s get lost in intergalactic punk-rock, hip-hop.

I am you, you are me, X, Y, Zee to A, B, Cee.
You, me, us, we are one.

This is the time, the time of our lives.
Escaping time for the all-time highs.
Of love, lust, laughter that make us sweat.

Let’s stimulate sensory amplification, this is PWEI-zation.
This is this, it’s the living end: “Je t’aime, encore, je t’aime”.

I am you, you are me X, Y, Zee to A, B, Cee.
You, me, us, we are one…

ADDENDUM:

Imagine my surprise when my daughter came home from school this afternoon with a WWF leaflet alerting her to the cats she can help to save. Imagine my further surprise when she said she would chose to adopt a Snow Leopard…

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The Medal

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“For some, the award of a Spartan Race Trifecta Medal is quite something, for me it’s bittersweet. Although it represented a reward for 12 months of intense training and endurance, it came at a time when my ego ruled and as I raced, my wife and I drifted apart, all my own doing. I will always keep this medal as a reminder of the man I never want to be. Right now, I am not that man and we are strong”…

For the unaware, the Spartan Race is one world’s most premier obstacle races. Over varying distances, one has to crawl though pits of ice, leap over fire and shimmy through electrified barb wire fences, before pushing their way through gladiators protecting the finishing line.

In 2012, I took it upon myself to compete in every race in the UK, six in total from Edinburgh to South London and many places in between. By the end of it and over 2000 miles extra on the mile-o-meter, I was awarded the Trifecta Medal and with it, entrance into an elite class of runners, finishing an impressive top 500 from an overall field of 130,000 Spartans world-wide.

As all of this was taking place, my wife was plotting to leave me…

Around five years ago, we returned from living in Malaysia and I had the task of finding a subsequent posting in the UK, and sadly the only ones available at the time were based in London. I had little option but to take one of the first things that became available, and took it upon myself to live a split-life, at that time not through choice.

The first year was very hard, settling into a mature team of very talented individuals (both work and triathletes), and for a person like me it was always going to be a challenge in itself, but manage it I did. The first year I worked 5 days a week in London and was home for weekends, and by the end of second year I managed to negotiate down to three days per week.

During those two years and unbeknownst to all of us, my wife had contracted skin cancer beneath her hairline which went incorrectly diagnosed resulting in a deep rooted spread. Once it was diagnosed in early 2012, we took the hit on going private due to a further six month wait due to strains on the NHS and she had it removed, leaving a huge graft in place, taken from her neck.

She has always been proud to be strong on the outside and very quickly (so I thought) normal service was resumed and thus I carried on with my split life in the capital.

Soon after normal service was resumed, the Spartan Race series started, and part of the justification for me doing it was to raise money for Cancer Research as well as rekindle the bond with my children, both my boys being active participants in the Spartan Race series too.

We travelled the length and breadth of the country during weekends, leaving my wife and daughter yet again. We would come back battered and bruised with another trinket around our necks, but there was no congratulations when we returned.

Then it came two weeks before the final race. I picked up the wife who was in the rain walking the dog on her own and she told me. It was over, no longer could she put up with living separate lives. She worked weekends by then and with me returning late Thursday nights, we never saw each other. That night we cleared our closets of all manner of things, some things incredibly hard to bear and incredibly impossible to share.

Only then it hit me. Previously she had mentioned that she was not happy and previously I may have changed for a week or two before reverting to type. My life’s priority list was all wrong and during the following week of separation, I searched deep within myself for answers, and thankfully I found them all and found them really quickly.

It was clear that my situation in work was untenable, and that was the root cause of both my situation and my bloated ego. I was a weekday socialite in the city. I was competing against others for higher bonuses and higher points on the Iron Man scale. I had taken over from my old boss and had an ideal opportunity to change my work-life balance for the greater good but chose not to, to accustomed to my own ways of working, my own wants and needs.

It was clear I had strength but it was in the wrong places. I realised my strength would be now required to tackle “The Corporation” head on and suffer any career or financial penalties as a result. As it turned out, they were very supportive and we came up with a compromise which was mutually beneficial to both parties.

I relayed all of this to my wife, and fully understood that I had given her so many empty promises before, and that only time and commitment would heal the broken bond between us.

And it did, through hard work and keeping to my promises to both her and the children, I drew myself back from the void and back into the arms of my wife and lover, and into the hugs and parents evenings of my children.

I also took the opportunity to cease all ego-based activities and instead focus in on who I actually was and what I actually stood for, and following on took up yoga, meditation and reiki, which has brought around a complete shift of consciousness. No longer am I driven by socialising, alcohol or bragging rights, now my focus is on the health, well-being and support of my wife, children and friends which brings with it such inner peace.

The Spartan Race Trifecta Medal will stay with me forever, a constant and consistent reminder of the person who I never want to be. It is also a symbol to my children of what can be achieved through hard work, but with it there is a very clear message about never forgetting your priorities in life and the potential dire consequences of doing so.

I am once again a real husband, a real father and a real friend. I am me…

Human Universe: Apeman – Spaceman

I am a fan of Professor Brian Cox. I think his layman’s approach to science mixed with an obvious passion for what he believes in, and speaks of, has made physics, chemistry and biology much more accessible to the common man. On that basis, I have been looking forward for some time to his new series on the BBC entitled Human Universe (I didn’t cancel my TV licence in the end – due to this up-and-coming series and my son’s participation in a well-known Channel Four melodrama over the coming months), and last night saw the first episode “Apeman – Spaceman” (oddly there was no reference to Albert or Albert II – the first rhesus monkeys in space – probably due to their sad demise on those maiden voyages).

Although I had not seen any trailers for it, I got the general feeling that this was going to be an updated Ascent of Man, which was a remarkable insight into our own physical (but not spiritual) evolution from Dr Jacob Bronowski via a series of essays-cum-broadcasts. Brian has already explained (via the “Wonders of the Universe/Solar System” series) in quite majestic parlance, his “beliefs” on how and when the Universe was created, delving into easy-to-understand chemistry and physics, giving anyone who wishes to gain knowledge of the machinations of matter a solid foundation, before entering the often mind-boggling realm of quantum physics should they decide to make that quantum leap.

One of the key things for me for this series was to determine whether Cox was a materialist reductionist, and whether this series would address the who and the why. From what I understand of the man, he is a “confirmed” Athiest, but I’m yet to find out whether or not that is on the same scale as Richard Dawkins, I sincerely hope not. For me, this is an opportunity for Brian to reach out to the consciousness question neither asked nor answered during his previous broadcasts, and to hopefully bring out new theories like Everett’s Many World Interpretation, M-Theory and the likes. It is also an opportunity to see exactly where he as a man stands on what consciousness is.

And so to last night’s episode, in short for me, abit of a damp squib. The opening scenes were very familiar; with Brian setting foot (and forth) on the Rift Valley, Ethiopia where it all allegedly began. I know that dumbing down science to make it more marketable to the masses is the general approach, but last night’s episode went a little too far for me.

Following on from the plains of Ethiopia where he attempted to replicate the first spear heads and signs of a marked change in intelligence, the most interesting part of the show for me was his reference to the increase in brain size which seemed to coincide with the Earth’s most elliptical orbit around the sun two-hundred thousand years ago, which in turn brought about the most extreme changes in Earth’s climate.

According to Cox, the development of human intelligence was a response to rapid climate change, and it was the precise geography of the Rift Valley East Africa mixed with the precise precision of Earth’s orbit in the solar system, Earth’s spin axis, and the influences of the climate at that time which made our ancient ancestors physiology respond in such a way, increasing our brain size, increasing our intelligence. I think this was his attempt at describing “the missing link” although the exact phrase was “missing” itself.

That in itself seems just as likely as believing in God, given the fact that it seems an absolutely incredible coincidence at ridiculously long odds that everything that could forge that birth of consciousness just happened to fall into place rather nicely on Wednesday afternoon in Africa. I guess that is the main reason (at this point) why I am a nailed on Agnostic (with spiritual tendancies) in terms of whether God does or does not exist.

Brian then travelled north to Jordan and with-it came a high-level explanation on how the first civilisations were born, through agricultural revolution and trade routes, again something much better described by Dr Bronowski many decades earlier.

In concluding, his parting shot for Episode One was thus:

“After almost fourteen billion years of cosmic evolution, and some four billion years of life on Earth, the Universe became conscious, and in just two-hundred thousand years, we humans have transformed ourselves beyond all recognition”.

So from his point of view (citing my own interpretation), this was the birth of consciousness, implying that consciousness is in fact an epiphenomenon* of an evolving brain, something which I have just asked him about on Twitter (still awaiting a response for).

The graphics and scenes from the show are superb as usual, a stunning high definition vista of Earth and beyond, and like I said to a friend, the show is still ‘light years’ ahead of watching such drivel as X-Factor and The Jeremy Kyle Show.

I will stick with the series to see if anything else develops, I sure hope it does…

* Epiphenomenalism: A mind–body philosophy marked by the belief that basic physical events (sense organs, neural impulses, and muscle contractions) are causal with respect to mental events (thought, consciousness, and cognition). Mental events are viewed as completely dependent on physical functions and, as such, have no independent existence or causal efficacy; it is a mere appearance.

Fear seems to make the heart beat faster; though, according to epiphenomenalism, the state of the nervous system causes the heart to beat faster. Because mental events are a kind of overflow that cannot cause anything physical, yet have non-physical properties, epiphenomenalism is viewed as a form of property dualism.

Internal Landscapes

And I felt myself going. I was in a great deal of pain…
It was a very frightening experience, but I began to slip…
I just sort of, felt myself going, and I remember trying to hold on…
I’ll be ok, I’ll be ok…

And it got to the point where I just couldn’t…

And everything began to just become very quiet…

And I can remember with every ounce of strength I had…
I wanted to say goodbye to my wife, it was important to me…
And I did, I remember just turning my head, looking at her and saying…
I’m gonna die, goodbye Joan, and I did…

It was then that I experienced, what we call a Near Death Experience…
For me there was nothing near about it, it was there…
It was a total immersion in light, brightness, warmth, peace, security…

I did not have an Out-of-Body Experience…
I did not see my body or anyone about me…
I just immediately went into this beautiful bright light…
It’s difficult to describe, matter of fact it’s impossible to describe…
Verbally it cannot be expressed…
It’s something which becomes you and you become it…

I could say that I was peace…
I was love…
I was the brightness…
It was part of me…

As I was putting together various purchases from IKEA on Saturday, I had a moment of recall, a moment of warmth, a moment of connection with something, not sure of what that something was. I was alone in the hallway happily busying myself with Allen Keys and screwdrivers, when Anathema’s Internal Landscapes song from the Weather Systems album came on. I must have heard it a thousand times already, but Saturday was different.

I have had moments of peace and wonder listening to the spoken word of Joe Geraci before, recalling his own Near Death Experience many decades ago, but Saturday’s experience was much more profound. As I listened, I found myself drifting off listening to each word very carefully, recalling my vision under Lucia No 3 a few weeks ago, the Lucid / Hypnogogic Light Device of my last blog.

In particular, I picked up on the following lines:

It was a total immersion in light, brightness, warmth, peace, security…
I did not have an out-of-body experience…
I did not see my body or anyone about me…
I just immediately went into this beautiful bright light…
It’s difficult to describe, matter of fact it’s impossible to describe…
Verbally it cannot be expressed…
It’s something which becomes you and you become it…

In short I felt that. That, exactly, was what I felt. I cannot describe it in a better way than Joe did all of those years ago, but to me, it felt the same. I felt that I had become part of something non-corporeal, sentient, albeit briefly, too briefly. It was beautiful. It was like there was something else. It was my own Internal Landscape:

“I remember being surrounded by a warm glow, with a central ellipse of orange light (an eye if you will, or tunnel even), a place of peace”…

When I came around, there I was still sat in the middle of my hallway, surrounded by nuts, bolts and nails, and then the analogy hit me. Life is like a box of IKEA flat-packed furniture. Everything comes at you in pieces once you open the box. There are instruction manuals for those who need to be led and for others, there is chaos, a collection of bits and pieces, but when considered carefully, logically and put in the correct place, everything eventually makes sense and becomes one, a replica of the source (in my case a shoe rack)…

And it’s just so beautiful…
It was eternity…
It’s like I was always there, and I will always be there…
That my existence on earth was just a very brief instant…

I could say that I was peace…
I was love…
I was the brightness…
It was part of me…