top of page
  • Selva Lawler

#30 - Truth Is Stranger Than Fiction

I remember a few months back reading about the wildfires rampaging through much of Australia. A bookstore in the fire-ravaged town of Cobargo had a sign outside which stated: “Post-Apocalyptic Fiction has been moved to Current Affairs.” We are living in that reality right now on a global scale. Make no mistake about it: truth is stranger than fiction.  Panic is a virus. A scarcity mindset is also a virus. The spread of terrible ideas is contagious and has a viral component to it. Fear is a - perhaps, the - virus to rule them all. An idea that fear should be our operating system through challenging times is the bubonic plague of viruses. Panic and fear can in some instances cause destruction that is worse than the actual disease. WARNING: I'm not remotely discounting the potentially lethal effects of COVID-19. Take appropriate precautions, people! When we elect to toggle that fear mode on - and yes, it is largely a choice - we have a natural tendency to overreact, thereby creating other risks. What a bizarre and wild world we live in when people who get more worried about the coronavirus than they need to create additional worry that suppresses their immune system and makes them much more vulnerable to the thing they're worried about! Living in a perpetual state of anxiety and stress is one of the worst things you could ever dial up for your immune system.  When news of the coronavirus started blowing up in the news, I knew that I had to educate myself on the subject. I consumed as many resources about the virus as possible for several hours in a row. Midway through that stretch of being knee-deep in reading worst-case scenarios, I started to feel nauseous. I felt sick. I suddenly thought, "Shoot, did I somehow contract this freaking thing?" I felt completely fine an hour later. It's Exhibit A of how if I get unconsciously sucked into a vicious cycle of fear, it produces detrimental effects on my body. A handful of people have asked me how they think this is going to shake out. I'm no seer. I'm not a prophet. I'm not clairvoyant. I'm barely a Master of the Obvious; Apprentice of the Obvious might be a more apt description. Candidly, I am not sure what will unfold. Absent some immediate change and positive revelation in the treatment of the virus or the epiphanic discovery of a new vaccine, I have to think that this fog of uncertainty that currently we're quagmired in is going to last something more like months than weeks. But who am I to weigh in? I'm not a virologist. I'm not an epidemiologist. I didn't even stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night. (I am staying out at the Sanctuary right now, which I have to say is a pretty heavenly place to be when riding this thing out!) Normally we conduct retreats at SpiritQuest. The human race is on a collective retreat at the moment, although it's a retreat of a different kind: a retreat to our homes. For that reason, SpiritQuest canceled our April retreat. We're taking things step by step, but it's hard for me to imagine that we will conduct our May retreat. Our June retreat is still three months out, and a lot of things could or could not happen in the interim. We certainly are chomping at the bit to continue the work and resume our scheduled programming, but until travel is more practical and advisable, we will remain patient and exercise discretion over valor.   Humans are social animals. Sam Harris astutely observes that solitary confinement in prison is seen as such a hellish form of punishment that the vast majority of people would prefer to be locked in a room surrounded by the company of murders and dangerous criminals than to be alone with their own mind. As one of our participants once wrote me, "Ayahuasca taught me that there are innumerable paths to a spiritual awakening. The point is to be on one of them rather than inside your own head, which is the loneliest place in the world." If the room in your head is where you are constantly residing, especially in these trying times, find better quarters.  One of my best friends recently joined us for Huachuma. When you are in that heart space in Huahcuma, it's complete bliss. My friend intentionally brought his awareness to his mind from time to time. Why in the world would he do that and not be in his heart? Well, he told me that it was a reminder of how hellish it can be to be in your mind and that he hoped to never unnecessarily be there in the future. He wanted a stark reminder of how essential it is to let his heart be his compass as opposed to his mind as he writes the next chapters in his book of life. Can't wait to read his autobiography! I'd be disingenuous if I were to say that absolutely zero fear-related stuff came up these last couple of weeks for yours truly. I periodically worry about how my grandmother's age puts her in a high-risk group. I have concerns that there aren't enough hospital beds and ventilators for people who will need them. I'm alarmed when thinking about the stock market cratering, the meteoric rise in unemployment, and how so many businesses and activities have ground to a screeching halt. . Many of you have reached out to me and asked how both I and SpiritQuest are doing. First things first. These heartfelt messages really, really mean a lot to me. From the bottom, middle, and top of my heart, thank you so very much for checking in! As for me, I'm fine, and I'll continue to be fine. I think about the effects of what I am experiencing and will likely experience compared to so many other people and how utterly disastrous this already is for them, and I realize all of the ways I've led a fortuitous life. That, in turn, makes me want to pay it forward as much as I can. For many other people, life in the short term is going to bring a lot of pain. Our workers at SpiritQuest won't generate income during the months when we don't have retreats. They won't receive tips from our nonexistent groups. It's a bitter pill to swallow not knowing when our next retreat may be. It could be a while. It could be a very long while.  The people most impacted by this shutdown are our indigenous neighbors and tribes. Apart from our group this retreat cycle, they are getting absolutely zero visits. Their entire revenue streams are based on the sale of small arts and crafts, and they are poised to go months and months without generating a single sale. Look, SpiritQuest will be fine. But I feel for our neighbors and friends as they have precious little, if anything, in savings. With their one financial spigot now completely shut off, the impact of this void is going to hit them like a tsunami. I recognize how I keep mentioning the GoFundMe to support our neighbors and local tribes. I'd be disingenuous if I didn't concede that a part of me feels like the collective response has not been commensurate with the need. The less petty and ungrateful parts of me (i.e., the better parts of me!) are deeply thankful for what we have received and how we've been able to give back. I wish I could somehow share the smile on the face of the chief of the Alamas tribe when we gave them a hefty donation last month to repair their maloca. Her gratitude, love, and appreciation were all so through the roof that it felt like I was in the presence of the sun. You can't distribute anything from an empty cup. There are millions of other worthwhile causes to support. So don't feel compelled to give if you're not in a position to do so. Even a small donation can make a big impact, and if you are in a place where you can donate to our indigenous friends, please visit the link here: I'd be lying if I didn't say that thinking about the seismic impact and fallout of things from time to time doesn't bring in some level of stress, anxiety, and fear into the picture. I know that the more I can prepare for this from a place of love, from a place of abundance, and from a place of courage as opposed to a place of fear, the more I'll be passing the test. It's counterproductive to become attached to emotions of scarcity and fear, so I do my best to heighten my awareness and release them. I'd probably self-grade myself at this somewhere around a B or B- level, so it's a practice I'll continue to practice.  Human beings are social animals. At the moment, we are social creatures engaged in extreme social distancing.  There's some inexplicable component hardwired into human nature whereby we need to go without or lose something entirely to fully appreciate the value and the necessity of it all along. I hope pressing this extended pause button on social connection will make everyone appreciate the significance and essential need for it all the more once it is back on the menu. After only a few days of social distancing, people are already yearning to make that connection. When the dust settles on the coronavirus, places that amplify that human connection (not to be boastful, but at SpiritQuest, we exponentially amplify it) will be highly in demand. I'm optimistic that humanity can continue to cultivate a real sense of community and global familyism. I have faith that we won't be forgetful of the need for a shared sense of mission in this collective web that we weave. Once this is in our rearview mirror, I hope I'm not too crazy in thinking that there will be a tangible and permanent shift in consciousness and a realignment of our priorities. Hopefully this update gives you some cause for optimism. Maybe it gives you some cause for concern. I suppose you have to reconcile everything. I know that the more I can move into a paradigm that has love and abundance as its ballast, the more I realize things are happening for me as opposed to to me, the more I realize that there are lessons (or at the very least, a silver lining; a bit of wisdom gleaned; some modicum for growth) in everything, the more I know it will serve me well.  One of our recent SpiritQuest graduates is a nurse in Oakland. She recently wrote to me how her hospital ordered shelter in place for up to three months. She has very little personal protective equipment (PPE) in the hospital, and her PPE is being stretched so thin that she has to reuse it. She's wading into the unknown and grinding through superhuman shifts.  People like her are on the game board and being activated. Human beings channeling the heart of a lion and displaying incredible feats of audacious aspirations day in and day out, extending a reach that exceeds their grasp. All of this is being sewn into the historical tapestry of humanity this very instant. We're writing that chapter in the book of humanity right now, and I'm continually blown away by the heroism in so many places! Truth is stranger than fiction, and not even the best screenwriters and producers would have been bold enough to have made a movie about some of these extraordinary acts of sacrifice and humanity amidst COVID-19's brutality and devastation that we're witnessing. The coronavirus may win a few battles, but if we can all human up, that shining love that radiates throughout all of humanity will be an indomitable force that will decisively win the war.  Hearing about others (especially incredible human beings and friends of mine who I know and love!) and their acts of service is the ultimate bolt of lighting for me that electrifies and amplifies my best qualities. It makes me want to warrior up and give my best for the good of all. Since our acts of service are our highest bliss, I'll endeavor to hold nothing back and serve all of the light and love I can to all of you!  Para el bien de todos, hermanas y hermanos! -Parker


bottom of page