In my last period of paid employment – “last” in the sense of “most recent”, but also possibly meaning “final” – I frequently stayed in high-end hotels whilst travelling for business. There was always a small map on the back of the room door, showing the evacuation route to be taken in the event of a fire or other emergency. Of course, I rarely looked – I didn’t really ever imagine there would be any need and, if there was, I would be able to work out how to reach safety.
Well, the time has come. Not just for me, but for all of us in the global West, because we are in a high Tower and it is falling. Gwyn ap Nudd has provided no map and no evacuation route: each of us will have to find our own way to safety.
I haven’t posted much this year. For the third time in the past decade and a half, I’ve unexpectedly had to take on the burden of caring for a relative. Just like the last two times, this is consuming most of my time, costing me a great deal of money, and is grinding down my own health. I don’t begrudge this: it’s the right thing to do, the only thing I can do.
I won’t deny that I ask “Why me? Why again?”. My plans and aspirations for my future are being destroyed, and it seems so unfair. And yet, I can’t help but think of Ian Fleming’s famous maxim: “Once is happenstance. Twice is coincidence. Three times is enemy action“. In other words, I am being sent a message and it’s one that I urgently need to decode, because I suspect the sender is Gwyn ap Nudd.
After consulting the Coelbren and the I Ching, and after much contemplation in the sleepless small hours, the message is becoming clear, and it’s not one that brings much comfort.
Essentially, it’s this: Western culture has for a very long time now been living well at others’ expense – and that is now all coming to an end. I’ll discuss this in a future post. However, the message that I’m being sent is that I have to stop thinking about the future – that is to say, my plans about my future work, income, and lifestyle – in the terms of the past. I have to confess: even though I have known for years that resource depletion and environmental change are making our entire way of life impossible to maintain, and even though I’ve been observing the economic strains since the Financial Crisis being multiplied and magnified by the current supply chain crisis… I still find it incredibly difficult to discard the way of thinking about the economy and work that’s held true for most of my life. But, I need to – because it’s broken beyond rescue or repair.
I need to accept that I will probably be poor for the rest of my life. That the era of cheap goods and cheap energy are gone for ever. That the kind of jobs I have always aspired to – the well-paid, secure, middle class jobs available to university graduates – are very largely going to disappear, and that from now on only those with practical skills in local demand are going to be of value. Postgraduate degrees will be worthless; being able to make or fix things reliably will be priceless.
I’m being told to transform my sense of self, and it’s a difficult and painful process – and if I’m struggling with it, when I’ve been aware for years that it would one day be necessary, then it’s going to be far more traumatic for the majority of people. That’s another part of the message: that I need to do more with the themes of this blog because, in a collapsing economy and disintegrating society, people will need stories to live by – and Iolo Morganwg’s Barddas has much to offer.
A crisis is coming. It’s too late to avoid it, and we can never go back to how things were before. All we can do now is seek the route to safety.