2010 Log: This is the Year that Was
Brian O’Leary, Dec. 17, 2010
Little did I know that on my seventieth birthday last January that 2010 would be the year of facing the physical deaths of two siblings and almost myself—along with a growing awareness of aging—but it has also been a year ending with new life and new hope. As a kid, I was always into numbers, and the year 2010 was for me almost unimaginably futuristic. Maybe we’d be zipping around in space, maybe we’d have been annihilated by nuclear war, maybe I’d be dead of a heart attack (like my father at age 67) or maybe I’d just still be here taking in life or retired on a golf course or old age home, or be a professor emeritus in a college town or doing whatever I could to lend a hand to society while I was still here in my body.
In August I lost my only sister and in November I lost my only sister-in-law, both to cancer. Later in August I myself almost passed over from a heart attack that landed me in a local hospital ICU. Here’s the story:
I went to bed early on the night of August 24, 2010, even before I could take in one of the most beautiful sunsets of the year, one of two days of the year when the sun drops behind the nose of Mandango as we see it from Montesueños. It also was my father’s birthday; he’d have been 108 on that day. I was very tired with back pains, and worn out from a very busy month culminating with an ayahuasca ceremony that in some ways didn’t sit well with my stomach and my psyche. From August 14 to 17, I had hosted and spoken at The Innovators Symposium here on solutions to sustainability in Ecuador. I had also traveled to Quito to make a presentation about saving the rainforest and creating economic sovereignty for Ecuador by breakthrough clean innovation in energy, food, water and waste management.
As the Pisces full moon rose over the meditation tower and Meredith and our guests were observing a full moon ceremony, I drifted off to a physically and psychically dark-feeling semi-sleep. Something was wrong with my body, something was getting worse rather than better, but I didn’t know what or why.
It was midnight during the weird hazy moon-basked restless night when the severe chest and upper back pains came on. I then realized I was having a heart attack—my second in almost twenty years. Oddly, I’ve never felt any such symptoms, even mild chest pains, at any other time in my life, either before or after the two heart attacks.
Somehow I endured the rest of the night in pain. The previous heart attack, also experienced in the middle of the night, was a similar event as described in my book The Second Coming of Science—except this time, I decided to go to the hospital shortly after daybreak rather than to ride it out in bed with Meredith’s support. So Dumar drove me to a medical clinic in Loja, an hour’s drive away.
The chest and back pains continued as I visited the doctor, who immediately admitted me to the hospital intensive care unit “for 48 hours of observation.” And what an experience, plunging into a sterile mainstream medical environment, with them poking my skin and orifices with no end of needles, pills and catheters. That first morphine shot sure made me feel better, but so drugged me that I was mostly oblivious of visitors who were told by the doctors that I should be flown to Quito for an angiogram and possible angioplasty or a bypass operation at a cost of tens of thousands of dollars. I braved it out at the ICU until late that night, when a friendly young Ecuadorian doctor happily announced to me that my condition was now stable and the pains also went away.
Yet another day passed. I was at the agreed-upon 48-hour point in the ICU, and Meredith and our friend Lucia were on hand to spring me out of my costly imprisonment. For some very minor technical reasons, the doctors wanted me to stay; they were feeding me with intravenous dopamine to raise my blood pressure, which had become unstable as the competing medications consumed my body, including the dopamine itself. Even though I was groggy, we had a plan to get me out of there: for us to visualize the blood pressure going to normal by weaning me off the dopamine. Lo and behold, after an hour or so, we achieved our goal, to the amazement of the attending doctor and nurse. Ah, the power of intention overriding the Western model was shown to me again—either that or the possibility that the costly dopamine itself was destabilizing my blood pressure.
During the long, laborious check-out at the hospital, a substantial bill was presented to us for the stay. So we scratched up the cash and got the hell out of there. This was an extraordinary bill for Ecuador, and for us too, mostly going for the medications. I now know from direct experience that hospitals are where you go only in the event of a dire emergency. They’re truly unhealthy places.
During my stay in the ICU, I was given a bewildering array of diarrhea-or-constipation-inducing and and zombie-producing pharmaceuticals ranging from morphine to dopamine, from nitroglycerine spray to Norvasc, from Xanex to Lipitor, from Cumadin to antibiotics, from IVs to blood extraction needles, from catheters to to the automated arm squeezes of blood pressure and pulse measurements. Loved ones were being kept at bay while doctors and nurses continued to drug me and monitor me—and to serve me some of the most unhealthy imaginable institutional food. Their intentions were good and they did everything they knew within their own model to keep my body going . . . but things seemed to be out of control and artificial (the body and the system). Their take-home prescriptions alone comprised a similar pharmacopia whose potential cost to me for the first purchase would have been $370!
This life-changing event at age seventy has told me as much about the tyranny of the medical system as it did about myself. Everywhere, even in remote southern Ecuador, the medical community has become ensnared in a tyrannical pharmaceutical push toward capitalistic hegemony over “health.” The US Food and Drug Administration has become the “legal” drug-pushers over much of the population while the true alternative medicine pioneers like Greg Caton and Dr. Stanislaw Burzynski are violently suppressed by FDA edicts. We live in a very bizarre world.
Meanwhile, over the objections of some acquaintances, I ignored all my medical prescriptions and embarked on an intensive natural healing path, one that is serving me well. I avoid alcohol, coffee, bread, meat, dairy, sugar and processed foods and am chelating, detoxing, and taking in lots of vitamins, minerals and enzymes, herbs, fruit and veggies. A visit back to my cardiologist last month (three months after the attack) surprised him: my heartbeat, blood pressure, and blood and urine tests all came out normal. I’m going to live!
But I also have gotten to feel the effects of aging. My energy, though more mellow than before with my new good diet, winds down upon evening darkness as I read and doze off into the night. My right knee has been kicking up from a disappearing cartilage, keeping me off the hiking trails and airport sprints for the past several months. I sometimes walk around with a cane. Until I had a heart attack and quit drinking alcohol two years ago, I could safely say I had led a risky life, one like my father’s. He passed over after a period of intensive alcohol consumption followed by a fatal heart attack which surely would have been my fate too had I kept going as I had been.
My beloved Boston Irish Catholic father was an intrepid romantic with high principles and high expectations for excellence, who won over the Wellesley girl, my mother, and pulled himself up by his bootstraps in the tradition of Horatio Alger. On the other hand, my Midwestern wasp mother, not a risk-taker, lived a settled and sometimes boring life, for example time-logging her bowel movements. When she turned 70, she told us, “You kids are going to have to come to me rather than I come to you. I now want my creature comforts.” By that age, my father had passed on whereas my mother got to live another 25 years, mostly as a perceptive observer of our interesting lives and the cultural scene. My switching role models from Dad to Mom gave me a new lease on life.
Shifting my parent mentor from Dad to Mom in some ways feels odd. I had taken some risks traveling the world, hiking, camping, having romantic and nonconforming escapades that defied conventional wisdom. But now my physical setting is being set up to be more nurturing, and alas is sometimes aloof from many of the exciting activities all around me. I’m settling into a more comfortable way of being, one that supports my wanting to stick around the planet so I can still contribute to the unusual current-day global scene.
Much of this year for me is one of learning to adjust to the new realities of maintaining my body suit and also wanting to avoid the hospital. Sometimes direct experiences like losing loved ones and facing physical death and aging seem to be necessary to awaken us to how precious life really is, and that this particular embodiment must come to an end sooner than we might think.
My heart attack was a wake-up call. This recent experience compels me ever more to see what I can contribute while I’m still here, really going for it in the face of the extraordinary global catastrophes that surround all of us. I’m the wiser for it and grateful to still be around to play with this life. Almost as soon as I got back home from the hospital, I prepared a presentation I was scheduled to give at the United Nations, one that starts with the sentence, “I’m making this presentation as if it were my last. I join the Earth and her abundant but dying life in an eleventh-hour appeal to stop the attack on all of us by human greed and aggression.” My body and the body of nature were both crying out for a healing.
This year has marked my initiation into true elderhood. I personally feel like I’m ending one period of my life and entering another, one in which the future is highly uncertain yet full of possible surprises. For example, my daughter Erin and her husband Tom have just announced the potential adoption of an infant girl Madeline Sasha who weighed in at six pounds. I’m most likely a grandfather! This long- anticipated event showed me that new life can come in to replace the old and that everything is as it should be. The world goes on in spite of all the chaos we are experiencing, and we just have to accept reality for what it is. It reminds me that the role of an elder is to pass the baton to the young ones partly through the experience of grandparenthood. In my own case, this is best expressed by creating a legacy of environmental activism, truth-seeking, and co-creating the beauty of Montesueños in harmony with nature.
Our immortality, I am learning more deeply, is far more elegant and magnificent than most of us realize. Our physical passing is just that, only a passing and not the end. We can feel the fear, the uncertainty about passing all around us. Yet to live life at its fullest while we’re still here is the best we can do, whatever our thoughts about life after death turn out to be. My research on the near-death and after-death experience and our likely continuing consciousness is deepening, and the news about that is mostly positive.
Dealing with my health is a metaphor for dealing with the culture’s health. Both need a whole lot of attention. As 2010 comes to a close, we find ourselves both in grave crisis (the wars, the pollution, the injustice, the lack of attention to building a truly sustainable future) and unexpected opportunity (free energy research, peace and justice activism, the piercing of the veil of secrecy enshrouding our “leaders” through the Wikileaks revelations). Knowing that the emperor wears no clothes in itself reassures us that there has to be another way among infinite promising possibilities.
Now more than ever we need to connect the dots about what’s wrong and what we can do. Those dots then can become waves of consciousness that penetrate all time and space and all sentience. I’m now reading the excellent book Science and the Akashic Field by Ervin Lazslo. He posits that there exists a field (akashic, zero-point, etheric, conscious, etc.) that penetrates and interconnects some material entities (e.g., organisms such as ourselves and ensembles of water and elementary particles). Each of these material objects can access the unmanifest information field that connects all things everywhere, past, present and future. A new science is being born.
Another exciting recent book I’m reading is The Story of Water by my colleague Alick Bartholemew. The former publisher of Gateway Books in Bath, England, Alick’s new book is an opus magnum of information about the miraculous properties of the water that permeates our bodies and the planet. We learn that water is not only a chemical compound to abuse and overuse, but has memory and healing qualities that respond to our intention and to its own natural flows, following the pioneering works of Victor Schauberger, William Tiller, Patrick Flanagan, Masaru Emoto and Rustrum Roy. This epic work picks up where the superb Russian documentary film Water: the Great Mystery leaves off, and sets the stage for preserving for all time the sanctity of this most life-enhancing substance known to humankind.
Another new learning experience for me has been to become aware of and to understand a model of human and cultural development called Spiral Dynamics. Pioneered by Don Beck, Ken Wilber and others, this model well explains why we as a culture and as individuals have great difficulty grasping how to co-create a truly peaceful, just, and sustainable future for ourselves. Most are trapped within a meme or worldview that doesn’t permit us to think outside the box for our solutions.
So as a culture, we seem to keep repeating the same old restricted “solutions” like market-driven carbon trading. This limitation applies even to most of us scientists, environmentalists and political progressives who should know better, but who are mostly stuck in the traditional Green movement that doesn’t yet acknowledge the possibility of a clean breakthrough energy, water and waste solution revolution that would obviate the need for fossil and nuclear fuels.
Our Western cultural awareness is trapped within a manifested material world limited in space and time. It’s the secrecy of knowing about our immortality and using the higher, interconnected dimensions that the global controllers are most wanting to keep hidden from us. It’s the Big Secret! And we have the subtle senses to perceive all that. This explains psychic and shamanistic healing, paranormal phenomena, clairvoyance, remote viewing, psychokinesis, telepathy, reincarnation, spirit communication, and near-death experience. While most folks don’t even know they have these abilities, awareness is accelerating.
Our progress at Montesueños during 2010 was substantial, both in construction, events, travel and publications. A ninth bedroom and Meredith’s new studio and Gaudi-esque meditation tower <link to new video and photos> are now complete. The studio now also doubles as a tenth bedroom, each with a private bathroom. We have also expanded my office into a seminar room, built a bodega for storage, and expanded our lush tropical gardens and our large outdoor gathering area in a sylvan glade overlooking the village, valley and Mandango.
I’ve published two new essays “The Turquoise Revolution”, printed as the cover article for the September/October 2010 issue of Infinite Energy Magazine, and “The Technology Solution Revolution”, also presented as a video for a conference on 10-10-10 at the United Nations in New York. The text will be published as a chapter in the forthcoming book Prometheus. In April, I traveled to the US to speak, do some media interviews and visit relatives and friends. The second edition of my book The Energy Solution Revolution is now available both in print and as an E-book. In all, 2010 was a very active year for me.
Meanwhile, we here at Montesueños are planning an exciting, evolutionary 2011, beginning with a January workshop on consciousness in which our friends and colleagues Jay Schumacher and Caroline Willcock will be joining us in deepening our personal and collective realities. Only when we give ourselves permission to allow ourselves to do that can we begin to grok our own being and its part in the greater matrix of our reality. After this experiment, we will be looking at our next steps here as we evolve. For example, my psychologist colleague Dr. Rich D’Amato and I are planning to teach a workshop on Spiral Dynamics sometime during 2011. Meredith will hostess an art workshop here in late June/early July 2011. Keep checking the website for dates.
The new film Yasuni will premiere in February 2011 and promises to be well-received throughout the world as a compelling artistic creation for saving the rainforest. This real-life Avatar graphically shows the threat to one of the most biodiverse spots on Earth and its voluntarily isolated indigenous peoples. Directed by my friend Leonardo Wild, Yasuni should be a catalyst to implementing what I call The Ecuador Initiative, which suggests that breakthrough innovation in energy technology, agriculture, and restoration ecology could replace oil and minerals extraction and large monocultures in the precious habitats of the Amazon. Next year promises to be an active year, sharpening these ideas in workshops here as well as forming alliances with indigenous and other groups and briefing the Quito government that truly sustainable practices could leave the rainforest alone while providing Ecuador with economic sovereignty.
The evolution of Montesueños includes occasional gatherings of special guests and discussions of new paradigms, cutting-edge science, artistic creativity, and environ-mental activism. Sometimes we do spontaneous video shoots of these sessions.
We’re also beginning to video more and more happenings here and visualize that the right person(s) can come forward to assist us in information technology and video production and editing, someone who both aligns with the Montesueños vision and could apprentice with us in new science, environmentalism, and the arts.
We will soon be announcing the new prices for our ongoing B&B service here. The 2011 accommodations prices will be slightly higher to reflect our substantially higher labor and overhead costs and recent improvements of the facilities. Some rooms will remain at the low prices we’ve maintained for more than two years now: $25 per person for two to a room and $35 per person for singles. As always, stays at Montesueños include a private bath, breakfast, wireless Internet, free use of a modern kitchen, and views and ambience everywhere. We hope to see you in ’11.