As followers of this blog know, at this time each year I do an audit of what I achieved this past year, pegged against what I said I wanted to achieve – and I set out what I hope to achieve the coming year.
Well, 2020 has been a helluva year. Talk about a disrupter!
Just think, this time last year the words COVID-19, and Coronavirus and Pfizer weren’t even in our vocabulary – and PPE and self-isolate and N95 and social-distancing were all foreign terms to us.
I’m thankful and grateful that Jennifer and I, and our families, have come through this year safely and without illness. We’ve been fortunate to live in a country that has handled the pandemic in a way that’s been the envy of most other countries – and the stats attest to that – but that’s not to say there hasn’t been a lot of trauma for some along the way.
Personally, for Jennifer and myself, it’s been a year that’s forced us to stop and take stock of our lives – to reflect on what’s important and what’s not, to see things with greater clarity, to get rid of unnecessary “noise,” and to be grateful for what we have and empathetic to those that are suffering, in whatever way.
For us, it’s been a year of softening. And coming together. Strangely, in a year that’s required separation, stronger bonds and connections have formed.
So in the light of what’s happened this year, it’s now interesting to look back on what I hoped to achieve, and what I did achieve. The number one inhibitor to this year’s workload was that I wasn’t able to travel – but that turned out to be incredibly cathartic.
So, here we go… the audit of what I set out to achieve, and what I actually achieved:
Complete the manuscript of Again, I Die. Check. I did this. The ms came in at 102K words.
Get Again, I Die published. Nope. Hasn’t happened as yet. The publishing industry has contracted this year, and a ms that mixes genres (thriller with New Age) has been difficult to place. But it’s a terrific story and well written (ahem, he says humbly), and it will find a home.
Complete production of Fear – the Movie. Nope, this didn’t happen either. My inability to travel put the stoppers on production. But sometime in March I woke up with a message from my dream state telling me that during this dreadful time of rampant fear I had to be in service, and so I set about creating Facing Fear – The Interviews, a website resource using cutdowns of the interviews I’d gathered for the film.
Over the next several months I worked with my editor, Rishi Shukla, and my web developer Natacha to create the website, which consists of some 27 interviewees from around the world – experts in fear management – with video content all up of nearly 24hrs. Here’s a link should you wish to check it out – Facing Fear – The Interviews
Commence development of a TV series based on my feature film KISS OR KILL. Done. I’ve written the pilot episode, and detailed treatments for the further 7x58mins episodes.
Commence production of DEFIANT, the feature film based on the true story of a double honour killing in India. Nope. Not possible to set up a film in India during the time of the Coronavirus.
Get THE WAY, MY WAY cast and financed. Nope. This is the feature film project based on the adaptation of my bestselling memoir, The Way, My Way – my account of walking the Camino de Santiago. I have Australian theatrical distribution in place, and a US financier and sales agent and Spanish co-producers, but independent feature film production this year has pretty much gone belly-up, because of lack of exhibition – cinemas. So I have shifted my focus to TV, and am currently writing a limited TV series based on the book. The book by the way now has more than 300 five-star reviews on Amazon. Here’s a link if you want to check it out – The Way, My Way.
Write the manuscript for a new book on intuition. Nup. Didn’t happen. Figured there were enough good books on the subject.
Produce a Masterclass based around the book. Nup. Didn’t happen because the book didn’t happen.
Get PGS out wider into culture. Yep, it’s happening. In negotiation with a major US distributor for English speaking territories.
Spend more time meditating. Kinda. But not enough. I use an app called Insight Timer, that Dr Dean Radin put me onto. And its binaural beats meditation sessions are great.
So – that’s the audit of what I set out to do this year, versus what I actually did do. Overall I spent the year writing, which in the end is what I really love to do.
So, what’s in store for 2021? Here’s what I hope to achieve:
Complete Facing Fear – The Movie.(This will depend on Covid related restrictions, and I don’t know if it will be possible.)
Set up KISS OR KILL as a limited TV series.
Set up The Way, My Way as a limited TV series.
Write the screenplay for an alien-based comedy.
Write another novel. (I have several ideas fermenting)
This year has brought about some fundamental changes for me. For starters, I have discovered that I don’t need to travel as much as I used to. Jennifer and I really do enjoy staying at home. My idea of a great day now is to write in the morning, read in the afternoon, and watch some amazing television in the evening. Oh yes, and there’s exercise and meditation and family and cricket and footy – my youngest son has got me following Liverpool, so that fills in the gaps left vacant when the Swannies aren’t playing.
As horrendous as this year has been, for me it’s been a year of realignment and recalibration. As I said in PGS the Movie, to be able to hear your inner voice, your inner wisdom, first you have to stop – and this year has forced me to stop.
I firmly believe that this pandemic is an incredibly powerful agent of change – and that out of the trauma and demolition that is COVID-19, universal consciousness will rise and lead us towards a better way of living on this beautiful planet.
While I was making my film on intuition, PGS – Intuition is your Personal Guidance System, (https://www.pgsthemovie.com), I discovered that perhaps the greatest barrier to tapping into your intuition was fear.
And as I thought more about fear, it occurred to me that so many of my decisions were driven by fear. Big decisions and small everyday decisions. And I began to wonder: what would it be like to live free of fear?
How would that feel?
What could I achieve, if I wasn’t tethered by fear?
Then I started to realise that I didn’t really know what fear was. If I wanted to rid myself of fear, first I had to know what fear was and how it worked. That’s when I began to think about making a film on fear – but anchoring it to a personal perspective, like I’d done with PGS.
I decided to call it Facing Fear.
I started out with the objective of finding out:
* What is fear? * How does it work? * How can I use it to make my life better?
I set off around the world about eighteen months ago. I filmed numerous interviews, some with leading experts on fear – doctors, psychologists, counsellors, therapists. But I was also interested in the esoteric aspects of fear, so I interviewed some of the world’s leading spiritualists and mystics. I also included interviews with those that had personally experienced real fear, and come out the other side much wiser. A combat veteran turned mercenary was one such interviewee.
I’d almost completed the interview phase of production when the coronavirus hit – and that put a halt to filming. I returned to Australia, and as the pandemic took hold globally, and in my home country, I realised there was a lot of fear out there. A hell of a lot of fear.
I woke up one morning with a strong intuitive message that I had to be in service. I realised that I’d amassed this fantastic storehouse of interview material on fear – and even though I couldn’t complete the film, there was a real need for the information and advice I’d gathered.
So I decided to create an online resource which I would call Facing Fear – The Interviews. What I would do is cut down the interviews and put them up raw on a website, and augment each interview with an up-to-date Zoom interview discussing fear during the current crisis.
Each interview would run between 45mins to an hour in duration, allowing for a detailed examination of fear – and providing practical advice on how to deal with it, and how to turn it to your advantage.
What I’ve ended up with is 27 interviews with some real heavyweights, but also some folks you’ve never heard of who have faced real fear and have wonderful advice on how they managed.
All up the website contains nearly 24hrs of interview content. There’s some real gems of wisdom and advice in amongst it all.
I would have liked to offer it for free but it’s been quite a costly exercise so far and I have an obligation to the investors who are involved. The Interviews is a precursor to the film, which will be completed once the coronavirus restrictions have lifted.
I was on a panel the other day – a Shift Network event talking about Media in a Changing World – and of course I know nothing about media, and even less about the changes that are happening in this world we inhabit at this point in time.
But I found myself talking about the divisions that are separating us at this moment, and how the media seems to be echoing those divisions.
We seek out the media that supports and reinforces our world view.
Now, is that smart?
No, but it feels good, right?
My side is right and the other side are a bunch of morons and they’re not only wrong, they’re criminally insane and they’re screwing up the world.
See what I mean? How can we ever evolve towards a higher state of consciousness if we come from that position?
I aspire to neutrality.
I really do.
If I ever achieve a neutral point of view I will regard that akin to enlightenment.
Neutrality doesn’t mean you don’t care.
It doesn’t mean you don’t have a point of view.
What it means is that you can see things from various perspectives.
It means you’ve stepped outside your particular “echo chamber.”
It means that you have come to a point of existential realisation that none of it, in the end, really matters.
As Jackson Browne said: Nothing survives, but the way we live our lives.
If you can be neutral it means you don’t get caught up in all the unnecessary carry-on that so often dictates so much of our lives. (Underline the word: unnecessary.)
I’ve learned over the years I won’t change someone else’s strongly held beliefs by espousing my strongly held beliefs. It’s never happened. All it’s done is create acrimony, disharmony, immeasurable discord and caused me to unfriend them on Facebook.
I aspire to be neutral.
I really do.
I aspire to being able to sit at a dinner part table and listen to conversations that at other times in my life would have driven me to stab someone in the eye with an oyster fork.
I aspire to watching a political debate and not, at some point, standing up and shouting “IDIOT!”
I aspire to a time when, while driving and I see a car in front with a bumper sticker for a particular politician that I believe should stand trial for Crimes Against Humanity, I no longer feel an uncontrollable urge to plant my foot on the accelerator and rear-end them into a cement roadside barrier.
For the past eighteen months, I’ve been working on a film about fear.
It’s called Facing Fear.
I’ve travelled to various countries around the world interviewing scientists, physicians, psychiatrists and psychologists, spiritualists and psychics, combat veterans and victims of violence and abuse, and others who had faced real fear, and survived.
I interviewed some prominent names including Dr Joe Dispenza, Dr Bruce Lipton, Foster Gamble, James Van Praagh, Paul Selig, and many more. Some of the most powerful interviews though were with people you’ve never heard of.
All up I amassed 30 interviews and some 50hrs of footage. And I hadn’t finished. But then the coronavirus came along and it stopped me from doing any more interviews, and it put a pause on my completing the film.
About three weeks ago, when the coronavirus crisis really began to hit worldwide, I woke up from a deep sleep with a message: I have to be in service.
I thought about that and wondered what I could do to be in service. And then I thought about all these amazing interviews I’d done on fear that I had stored on hard drives. And how fear was running rampant throughout the world. And how the world needed a resource to help understand fear, and how to deal with it.
So what I decided to do was this: I’d create a website that contained most of these interviews – I’d cut each one down to about 20-25 minutes in duration – but I’d augment them where possible with a 25 minute Zoom interview with each of the interviewees discussing fear in the time of COVID-19. All up the website would contain nearly 20hrs of interviews on fear- with about half of it discussing how to handle fear right now.
I’ll have to monetise it – because the whole endeavour is costing me a fair bit to produce – but I’ll keep the price low to make it accessible.
So that’s what I’m doing. It’ll be called Facing Fear – The Interviews. It should be ready mid to late May. It will only be available for a short time, because the movie will follow later.
I’ve learned so much about fear during the making of this film. Now is the time to get it out there…
It’s very tempting at the moment to be judgemental.
To be judgemental against China.
To be judgemental against laggard politicians.
To be judgemental against hoarders,
or cruise ships,
or those millennials who aren’t taking the current crisis seriously.
I’m sure you have your own personal list.
We’re currently in survival mode. And when we’re in survival mode we lash out at those we believe are threatening us, threatening those we love, threatening our way of life.
We lash out at those that seek to undermine our sense of certitude.
We have shifted into a time of uncertainty.
Everything we took for granted as being certain is now no longer certain. It used to be certain that you could go to the supermarket and buy toilet paper. It used to be certain that you could hold a BBQ in your backyard and invite your friends over. It used to be certain you could hop on a plane and fly wherever you wished to go. It used to be certain that you’d have a job, or have enough money to pay next week’s rent, or have enough food to feed your family.
Nothing is certain anymore.
And we’re going through a range of emotions as a result.
Some of us have gone to denial.
Some have gone to anger.
Some have gone to depression.
Some have gone to blame.
And many of us have gone to judgement.
But what is judgement?
At the heart of judgement is the notion that you are in some way superior to the person or the concept or the institution that you’re judging. That you have superior knowledge, or greater insight or wisdom, or you have some kind of elevated status that gives you the authority to be judgemental.
Implicit in judgement is a lack of humility.
Implicit in judgement is an ego dominated outlook.
When I catch myself being judgemental I try to stand back and ask myself –
What authority gives me the right to say/think this?
Is this my ego speaking?
Does saying/thinking this lift or lower my vibrations?
Does this come from love or fear?
Now’s not the time to be judgemental. There will never be a time to be judgemental. I am not better or superior to you so I don’t have the authority to judge you.
I am a spark of Spirit, as are you, as is everyone, as is everything.
Within that spark judgement does not exist.
So I was driving to Sydney a little while ago.
I had to go see the dentist.
Already I had two fears –
1) going to the dentist, which is terrifying under normal circumstances, much less during a pandemic, and 2) driving to Sydney, which I saw as being a seething cesspool of nuclear-grade COVID-19 – certainly a way more dangerous place than the small country town of Mudgee which is where I live, four hours drive away.
So I was driving to Sydney, battling my fears.
And there was a truck in front of me on the country highway.
And this truck was kicking up stones.
Then, sure enough, suddenly I heard a CRACK.
A stone had hit my windscreen.
I passed the truck, then I checked the windscreen and, sure enough, I found a mark on the windscreen.
My fears began to run amok.
My windscreen was going to crack.
It was going to shatter.
I would need to get it repaired.
That would mean staying in Sydney because there were no repairers in Mudgee could do the job. And probably the repairer would be asymptomatic COVID-19 and I would get infected. Which means I would die a horrible lonely death because being over 65, I am in a high risk category. But before dying I would infect my beautiful wife and beautiful children and they would die horrible lonely deaths too.
I was a mess.
And I hadn’t even got to the dentist yet.
I stopped in the next town and checked the mark on the windscreen.
It wasn’t cracked – the mark was bird poop.
I scraped it off, washed my hands for 20 seconds, and kept driving.
And I mused at how fear works.
The fear I had was imagined fear. All the fears I had were imagined fears. The visit to the dentist, whilst discomforting for a short while, was painless. Sydney was not full of Walking Dead virus infected super-spreaders. I got in, I got out, I drove home and I didn’t die.
But my mind, left unchecked, had gone to the darkest places. It had been fascinating to watch. The mark on the windscreen hadn’t been the start of my windscreen shattering, it had been bird poop.
There’d been no need for me to slip into fear.
But slip I did.
In fact I tumbled head first.
And it occurred to me that I held other fears that were imaginary too.
And they were bird poop too.
When I examined any fear I had, it turned out to be bird poop.
Here’s what I do with fear:
I look at the worst case scenario, and then I ask myself honestly: Can I deal with that? And invariably, I figure that I can indeed deal with it. And then the fear goes away. I scrape the bird poop off the windscreen.
What’s the worst possible scenario?
That I die.
I’m not scared of dying.
I know that this body is just leased, short term.
And at some point, that lease is going to end.
And then I’ll find another body to lease.
I’d prefer not to spend weeks in a hospital suffering.
I still have work to do.
Watch out soon for an announcement on a resource I’ll be launching –
The Facing Fear Interviews.
Here’s where my fear took me when I saw that mark on my windscreen –
Are you like me, finding it hard to get a good night’s sleep right now?
In the middle of this unbelievable global attack?
By something that’s not even living? That’s just malicious genetic code?
These are scary times.
Maybe it doesn’t help that before I go to sleep, I read a chapter or two of Stephen King’s The Stand – his epic novel on a plague that brings the world to its knees. Somehow I find this soothing. But that’s me…
Then around about 3am I wake up and I find it hard to get back to sleep.
I’ve tried meditation, I’ve tried mantras, I’ve tried herbal sleeping tablets. None of them have worked.
So then I figured I may as well use the time productively, so lately I’ve been listening to Paul Selig’s latest book on Audible.com – the audiobook app. The book is the seventh in a series that he’s channelled from his Guides. Paul claims no authorship – he says it is purely the work of the Guides.
Paul is the real deal. I’ve read all the books and they’ve had a huge influence on my life. I interviewed Paul for my intuition film, PGS – Intuition is your Personal Guidance System. I also interviewed him for my upcoming film, Facing Fear. He’s become a dear friend.
His latest book,Beyond the Known: Realisation builds on the previous body of work in a profound way. And so I put in my EarPods and I listen to Paul narrate the material – and suddenly everything is put into perspective. Here is a passage I listened to last night:
If you wish to be in fear about the events of the world, pat yourself on the back for claiming fear and don’t complain about being frightened. It is your choice to fear. Now, the world would tell you that you need to be fearful, and, as you acquiesce to that, you join the throngs looking to fight, looking to yield, to conquer, to know itself in the old paradigm that has been claimed as war.
To align to peace simply requires you to know that peace is there, and, in that awareness, you become the emissary of peace. If you are called to fight in some way, and any battle you may see or claim as a fight may be understood still again as an opportunity to learn, you may choose to do so as the True Self, who will bring light and peace and healing to what she encounters, and not more damage, not more rage, and not more calamity.
The Divine Self, while she is not the author of peace, abides in peace and will claim peace by nature of her presence. She may authorize what she sees, but she cannot claim it for another. The independence of the soul requires each one to know who they are in their own way, but what you may do is know the Divine—underline know, it means realize—in anyone, and in doing so you authorize them to make the claim for themselves by nature of your witness.
Sometime later I fall asleep, peacefully, knowing who I am, what I am, how I serve…
For those of you who’ve read my Camino memoir, The Way, My Way, (which, by the way, now has 297 five star reviews on Amazon. Cheeky plug, I know!) – well, featured prominently in that book were two delightful larger-than-life pilgrims from Northern Italy, Ivan the Terrible and His Beautiful Wife Giovanna.
Ivan and Giovanna helped me greatly during my walk, and we shared many a laugh together. They are hilarious! After the Camino we kept in touch and when Jennifer and I visited Italy a few years back we spent time with them in their home in the glorious ancient city of Bergamo.
I started to worry about them when I heard that Bergamo, in particular, had been savagely devastated by the coronavirus. Here’s a recent news report:
The northern Italian city of Bergamo, which is the nation’s worst-hit by the coronavirus, received help from the military Thursday to transport bodies to nearby towns to be cremated.
A convoy of at least 10 military trucks arrived in Bergamo, which sits northeast of Milan in the Lombardy region, to pick up coffins from the city crematorium and several morgues overwhelmed by the recent spike of deaths.
Bergamo is the most heavily hit town in Italy by the coronavirus outbreak, recording at least 93 deaths and at least 4,305 cases in the city as of Wednesday.About 60 percent of Bergamo’s roughly 120,000 residents could be infected by the novel virus.
I tried to call Ivan but got no response. But then last night I got this email, replete with wonderful typos and grammaticals:
Hello dears Jennefer and Bill
The situation is really very very bad, moreover Bergamo is the centre of the problem but at the moment we are very well.
We are both retired now, so when we came back in Italy we stopped at our home at the Garda Lake. So after 18 days of absolute isolation we stay really well. In this period there are nobody around our home, once a week we go out to buy food at the supermarket.
Unfortunately only now the people has understand the gravity of the situation, so we hope it could be better. It is really a nightmare , every day we receive bad news from our relatives and friends about people who is ill or dead.
We followed your blog when the fire devastated your Country. How is the situation now? And about Coronavirus Covid 19?
Thank you very much for your thought . In this moment it is very important to fell the warm of our friends .
A big hug to Jennifer and you . Giovanna and Ivan
When Ivan’s email came through Jennifer and I breathed a big sigh of relief. They are two very special people, and I hope they stay fit and well.
We’re at war.
We’re under attack in a way that we’ve never seen before, not in our lifetime.
And like any war, we don’t know when it’s going to end.
Unlike any other war though, we don’t know who our enemy is.
Scientists don’t know whether this virus will mutate further, whether it will “reconfigure” to adapt to changed conditions, they don’t know whether it will become less potent as the northern hemisphere comes on summer, they don’t know how long it remains active in a person’s body after that person is “cured.” We don’t know whether there will be a second wave or a third wave…
Let’s face it, we don’t know shit.
All we know is that people are getting sick, people are dying in the most horrendous ways, we know that it’s spreading exponentially, and we know we don’t yet have a cure.
Perhaps I shouldn’t be using a war analogy though because in wartime, we have generals and admirals and commanders that have battle plans and, right or wrong, they put those plans into action decisively and immediately.
Our governments have denied and dithered and they have let us down. Where are the Churchills or the MacArthurs or the Eisenhowers of old? These are the kind of leaders we need in a time of war. Our leaders have revealed themselves to be woefully inadequate to the monumental task of winning this battle. History will judge them accordingly.
These are historic times. And we are fighting for our lives. We are fighting for our survival. If not physically, then financially, and spiritually. Many in this time of crisis are questioning their faith. They’re asking: How can an all-loving, all-compassionate God do this to us That’s a bloody good question, and a valid one to ask. This little bug is bringing us to our knees in every way imaginable.
When our leaders let us down, what can we do? In times of war, the first thing you need is to find out what the fuck is going on. You need to find out as much as you can about your enemy, how it operates, what are its means of attack, what are its likely movements.
You need to be informed. But not by hearsay or social media panic – you need to be properly informed. By experts who know what they’re talking about. In battle parlance you need intel. Only with solid reliable intel can you then make plans.
You need to make plans. The plans you make will be different to the plans someone else makes. Should you quit or take leave of your job and hunker down? Should you prepare yourself for a siege? Should you go join your elderly parents in the country? Having plans in place will help you remain calm. You need to prepare for the worst but hope for the best.
You need to remain calm. You can’t fire a rifle if you’re shaking with fear. Read my previous post on fear. Facing Fear in fearful times ~ Remaining calm is critical to maximising your chances of survival in a time of war. Another critical factor is finding allies. You can’t fight a battle of this magnitude by yourself.
You need allies. Allies are your family, your friends, your loved ones. Allies could be your employer, your boss, your neighbour. We will each need to support and help one another if we’re to get through this. The governments talk about social distancing and separation, and that’s one of the insidious things this little bug is trying to do, it’s trying to conquer us through separation and division. And yes we do need to keep ourselves separated physically, and nations do need to separate from other nations for a while, but spiritually we need to come together and unite in our efforts to combat this invasive threat.
You need to defend yourself, and those you love. While the scientists are working on a means of attack through the creation of a vaccine, we need to defend ourselves, and those we love. This little bug is attacking us physically and financially. It’s putting us under siege. We need to prepare for a long siege, probably longer than our insipid leaders are telling us right now. This little bug ain’t going away easily. And while ever we lack the means to attack, we must defend – and that means retreating to a safe place and staying behind our battlements.
You need to help others. In Australia there’s an iconic World War Two photo of a “digger” – a soldier in Papua New Guinea – helping another injured soldier over a creek. This is what we do in times of war. We help others. The heroes amongst us help others at the risk of their own lives or livelihoods. And already we’ve seen heroes – everyday heroes, such as the doctors and nurses and hospital workers. But also everyday heroes like those that are serving us at the checkouts in supermarkets. The transport workers. Those that are putting themselves at risk every day to keep essential services running.
You need to be heroic. Heroic might mean being generous. Giving a neighbour food when they run out. Heroic might mean being compassionate. Looking after someone when they’re dying because they can’t get a bed in a hospital. Heroic might mean taking a financial loss so that your staff have money to pay their rent. You can be a hero in the most unobvious of ways. And true heroes are often invisible. They do their heroic deeds and ask for nothing in return. They are selfless. You can be that hero.
These are extraordinary times. Everything we thought we knew is being reconfigured, rewritten, broken down and will be re-formed anew. This is not a time to be frightened. This is a time to be calm, cool-headed, generous in spirit, and it’s a time to be intuitive. Because faced with a choice, your intuition will guide you towards the best outcome.
Personally, I watch in awe at a world undergoing tectonic change. This little bug, this noxious piece of malignant genetic coding, is forcing us to ask ourselves: What’s really important?
For me, what’s really important is love.
That’s all. Love.