THE GREAT CONJUNCTION
I had a moment last Friday when I thought I was losing my mind. I felt disoriented, lost in a void. I wasn’t sure what was real anymore. It was unnerving. And scary.
My chest and throat were tight. They had been for weeks. “Am I sick? Do I have Covid? Am I dying?”
I’m generally not neurotic about my mental or physical health, so this was unusual.
Thankfully I had a friend coming for the weekend. When she arrived, I told her what was going on. She listened calmly, asked some questions, and made no attempt to soothe me with some bullshit like “everything will be okay.”
I felt better with her presence, but I couldn’t shake the feeling that something was wrong with me.
It’s been a strange four years with Trump and now Covid. Both have upset the existing order, spinning us into chaos. In response, we’ve manufactured stories of good and bad, right and wrong, desperate to feel certain about something. The social media algorithms have stoked this mania, mirroring back to us our shadow, fueling conspiracies, and feeding our negative pleasure. This artificial Intelligence, soulless, dispassionate, has hacked our consciousness and is now fully in control. We’re all addicted.
Maybe feeling crazy is a reasonable response.
The next night I made my friend some mushroom tea. I didn’t feel steady enough to join her so I sat on the couch and read Murakami’s 1Q84 as she lay by the fire and waited for the effect to come on.
After about forty minutes she sat up suddenly, looked at me and said, “You have to refine your message.” Then, “You have to listen.”
I knew she meant listen to myself, to the quiet whisper inside I often choose to ignore and then gets lost in all the noise.
“Tell me what you see,” she asked.
“Everything’s a lie,” I said, agitated. “The stories we’re being told are just that — stories. They’re self-serving, intended to manipulate and control. It’s not a conspiracy exactly because it’s not conscious. But I can’t tolerate the deception anymore. It’s twisted and bound with fear and pain. And the rage of suppressed love and longing denied. And desperation, rationalizations, and vindictiveness. Every accusation a projection. They will kill to escape feeling, to stay in control.”
She nodded, understanding. I felt myself breathe a little deeper.
“And it’s in me too. I won’t tolerate my own suffering. I resent it. I tell myself it’s not fair. I indulge my victimization, gossip, lie, and revel in my hatred.”
I felt a comforting space open inside and around me. Some clarity. I tried to clear my throat.
“Is there something caught?” She said. “Let it out.”
I let my body spasm trying to cough it up. Tears came. I sat still for a moment and let myself feel. “It’s grief.”
“You need support,” she said and put her hand on my back.
We were outside now. I looked up at the stars. “I’m sorry.”
She looked at me, confused.
“Not for anything I’ve done to anyone. For the self-betrayal. I was lost and afraid. I acted out. I didn’t know any better, but it’s still painful.”
We sat in silence for a while. An empty wind moved through the trees.
Then we sang Lakota songs, praying to the moonlit mountains.