McDonalds is not the right venue, but it is what is

So you’d think working online would mean working from anywhere, right? All you need is yourself and internet…

Well, not so fast. You need first world tech at third world rates to make it work online. Either you are already established, or floating on a cushion of economic comfort, or you are on the edge.

If you are established, hats off to you. You have succeeded against many steep odds, shown initiative, courage and determination, and been in the right place at the right time.

If you are floating in comfort, count your blessings. You are part of the top 10% of the global population.

If you are not, things may not be so straightforward.

This blog is written primarily for those of us who are on the edge, although I hope it helps all healers who are wondering what on earth they are doing pursuing such an impractical and idealistic livelihood.

I set off for my round of visits to family and friends in South Africa, and to wrap up my one rural plot in the back badlands of the Western Cape. At first, things seemed alright. I stayed with one more affluent branch of my family with good internet, a garden of paradise and gentle ease, a room of my own, and a very productive spree of work and yet more work.

Next to my old home, to say goodbye to my beloved trees, and get things tidy for the next owner. Noting the crystal meth ravaged youngsters roaming the streets with cold menace in their eyes, or simple blank despair. The gaunt malnourished neighbors, still with kind eyes, but rotten teeth and grey skin, the litter, the sewage, the razorwire rising around the houses and wooden shacks, and the general destruction of the beautiful wild spaces I moved there for in the first place.

This evening I watched a news report saying half the households of South Africa are going hungry. Well researched. Today a bread truck got held up, and the robbers were unable to crack the safe. So they gave all the bread away to passers by. I imagine it took only a few minutes to move that truckload of food.

It turned out that the internet was way too slow (and incidentally wildly expensive) in Kalbaskraal. Not to worry. I postponed a few clients until I could get to the beautiful Malmesbury, a larger town, and with faster internet. I imagined sitting in a quiet restaurant, focusing on my clients and being able to do my work. It turned out that there are no real restaurants still making it in this town. One place was pumping, but seemed to be driven by large quantities of alcohol – no good for my line of work – imagine all those hungry ghosts floating around! The quietest place was MacDonalds – empty with the Covid collapse ravaging South Africa, with powerpoints for phone and laptop, and open till late. But there was beeping. And even an empty quiet fastfood restaurant is incredibly noisy, with bare echoing walls, scraping chairs, loud young voices.

it seems that Windows 10 renders even the faster internet useless with it’s endless spyware and data-theft. As predatory as the most desperate addict, without any real hunger except for mindless expansion.

Only minutes into our session my client begged off – too noisy and she could not hear me. Luckily she is an old client, and forgiving. But it’s not about me really – it was not working for her, and her time is precious. She is living with a terminal illness. The next client not so understanding. Refunded and the algorithm of ETSY turns against me another notch. Everything in jeopardy again.

Us mystics imagine a serene poverty in which you go to bed hungry and arise with a clean heart and clear mind. And perhaps that is possible somewhere, somewhen, somehow. But in the 21st century, there are simply too many of us. Poverty and climate change doom us to something more like cannibalism, famine and horror. Less like simplicity. More like witnessing children being broken. More like the beginnings of the Holocaust…

How do we find our centres in this world? How do we justify this work? How do we survive doing this work? Is it only an indulgence for the sheltered rich? And how to create the peace that enables the expansion of spirit, the stillness and tenderness that makes this work flow well and work well? The oasis from which others may replenish and restore themselves?

Surely our calling is to be able to work in this flawed reality? Warts and all? As it is. With or without money and or comfort? Well yes, of course. Isn’t that what we are born to do? Otherwise we could just stay in heaven.

I remember watching a TV series many years ago. There was a scene in it which I think I will always remember. Our hero is a detective, who has an experience of Satori (enlightenment) while imprisoned – for a crime he didn’t commit, natch, this is Hollywood after all. There is a young man who is caught in a horror of violence. Having turned to crime and corruption. He is dying. His gun by his side. Our hero takes him tenderly in his arms and whispers, “Shh, it’s just a dream. It’s just a dream.” Is that our work? I think it is.

To bring heaven to earth. Is that our work? Well yes of course. But what earth is this? This tragic painful place of death and suffering and struggle. Of endless distraction and hustle and fighting and territorial battle that must be engaged in.

So no, McDonalds is not the right place to work. But sometimes it is the only place there is. And sometimes failure is written for us. Just like death.

There is no shame in that.

No wrongness.

It is what it is. That is all.

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