“If you have more than one reason to do something (choose a doctor or veterinarian, hire a gardener or an employee, marry a person, go on a trip), just don’t do it. It does not mean that one reason is better than two, just that by invoking more than one reason you are trying to convince yourself to do something. Obvious decisions (robust to error) require no more than a single reason.” -Antifragile
I am conscious of the things I will regret. Each time I travel for work I think this is one (or more) nights I will not get to fall asleep beside my partner before one of us dies. Falling asleep beside a loved one is a finite privilege. Like breaths or heartbeats, you only get so many and then it is over. Spend them wisely.
Then maybe I wonder if I am co-dependent.
It isn't that, though. When I asked if he wanted to come with me to Glastonbury this last weekend gone he all but packed my bag for me with a resounding "fuck no". The place bores him into an absolute stupor. He's 'sympathetic but largely uninterested' in magic so he finds the Glasto company I keep quite alien. Plus the town has the most appalling, embarrassingly-bad, inexplicably-awful, naive restaurant scene -honestly it is like what foreigners expect British food selections to be like, served as if in one of those British comedies they struggle to find humour in. It's frankly an insult to the county it resides in, which makes so much excellent produce. So I can't even tempt him with culinary promises like I can Cumbria or (parts of) Wales.
An improved understanding of the evidence for After Death Survival does strange things to your personal risk curve, and to how you value the things in your life. For instance, my little brother and his wife, back in Australia, will have their second child in a couple of weeks. These are, once again, finite experiences that I will largely miss -and have already missed- given that I have now been out of my homeland for over a third of my life.
I acknowledge this is a high cost and one that I am willing to pay. The decision is fundamentally economic and seems to elude our unelected central planners casting retirees into penury with zero percent interest rates: Someone will take a loan with a 20% interest rate if he or she thinks they can double their money. If they think they will make no money or very little, even dropping the interest rate to zero won't tempt them in taking out the loan.
It is not the cost but the prize in play that determines what you will pay. When the prize is The Journey, The Mission, then the cost you are willing to pay rises sharply. It rises sharper still when you can convince yourself that seeing people in the Afterlife, or even just staying in touch with them after they have passed, is a factor. This is how you build berserkers or assassins.
Glastonbury was mixed. One of the reasons I have been so quiet on this blog has been a comically-accelerated pace of life: business, creative deadlines, surprise visits from childhood friends who have just lost their parents and are in from Russia for only a couple of days- that sort of thing. If I'm honest I didn't have the time to go to Glastonbury and ultimately spent much of the weekend in pubs putting a presentation together that I gave at a conference yesterday. But I had to go because there was an event I needed to attend... Taleb's 'one reason'.
Anyway, the event itself was so incandescently bad that it melted my face and soul away. However the weekend was something of a salve. I would have spent it in London working on the presentation in my home office regardless. But driving out there on the Friday morning, through the Wiltshire and Somerset countryside doing its sexy late-Spring thing, my blood pressure began to drop. If I had to work the weekend, there are worse places to do it (like my house) than Avalon. Then I caught up with some friends. One of whom, Sef, said there was a book launch on that night and that we should swing by.
The book, Celtic Saints of Western Britain, is rather lovely, and has been added to my 'Dark Age British saints' boutique library. (Also known to normals as 'a shelf'.) That's the author and artist, Nic, giving a reading above. A reading in the grounds of Glastonbury Abbey itself... after hours, I might add. ie - no one else around. That meant when I went looking for the bathroom I passed the Holy Thorn descendant and had it all to myself. (Cue the weird 'wizard etiquette' moment where I weigh up whether it's less respectful to walk past it to the bathrooms first, or attempt a hasty honouring with a full bladder. I chose the bathroom. Always choose the bathroom.)
When I told my mother the psychonaut I had the Holy Thorn descendant all to myself and after-hours access to the Abbey she gave me that classic motherly look of pride and seething jealousy. So the price is missing the birth of my brother's second kid. The prize, in this case at least, is almost-literally the Holy Grail.
My life at the moment is minimum-15 hour days, business drinking on top of that, staggering home to whatever passes for the least-worst, no-cook option (readymade salads and toast, it seems). I haven't been to the gym in two weeks, my hair is so in need of a cut I currently look like a police sketch of a 1970s rapist, I spend my weekends and annual leave days doing 'extracurricular work'... whatever that is... and I (possibly drink) drive back to London at dawn after a late Saturday night in Glastonbury, my car laden with new occult books I won't have time to read till late summer... to spend the next ten hours working on a forty minute presentation no one really cares about.
And you know what? This isn't a pity party or an excuse. It's good. It's all good. Because I am doing all of this for one reason.