The palpable difference in the air when enough people are sharing the enjoyment and positivity of striving for a common goal. Critical mass. Uncritical mass more like, the suspension of criticism of the olympics creating the tipping point of joy.
This guinea-pig, like many others I guess, had no intention of being in London for the Olympics – declaring very early on the desire to travel to the deepest darkest Peru of Paddington bear – home of the native Guinea-pig. I made these declarations on a regular basis during the last couple of years hoping to embue the words with prophetic action and upped the verbal ante when I heard that Mcdonalds was the official food provider and Union carbide was amongst the panopoly of heinous multinationals that were nobly sponsoring this circus.
One of the estimable Rats who I have shared the hutch with this year offered an experiential observation from being in LA during the 1984 Olympics. She said it was like a ghost town for the 16 days of sporting action – shopping malls empty, traffic jams non existent, and many amazing and free cultural events to boot.
I started warming to the idea of staying in London, and then got overtaken by a kind of apathy particular to those of us who chew too many carrots, stare at too much green grass and foliage in a small back yard, and can’t be bothered with the constant smell of wet fur when it rains too much.
Additionally the escape routes I had chosen suddenly seemed less of an attractive proposition:-
A West country Goddess conference I was planning to attend was suddenly and somewhat misguidedly aiming to reclaim the figurehead of colonialism – Britannia, and a 6 day Tai chi retreat rough camping in the welsh hills now looked increasingly likely to be a sodden trial of wet tent misery. Not that I needed much dis-encouragement – the camp is an obligatory stage in the Taoist training I have been endeavouring to complete for a few years – and is my annual stumbling block. I mean I can testify to the wiki entry that Guinea-pigs can learn complex paths to food, and can accurately remember a learned path for months, and also that our strongest problem solving strategy is motion. “While guinea pigs can jump small obstacles, they are poor climbers, and are not particularly agile”. Couple that with a challenging health condition and um that doesnt really auger well for hardship on a welsh mountainside. (I am though a Guinea-pig, not a pussy, the first summer I got diagnosed with breast cancer that was already in my lymph nodes I did do a hardcore death retreat for 8 days in the wilds of Dartmoor which was physically challenging but I was younger then and staring death in the face anyway.)
I was also irrationally reluctant to leave London whilst the MS Stubnitz was here (for reasons already known to those of you who read my recent MS Stubnitz post).
So by default I ended up staying in London for the Olympics, a decision swayed by two auspiciously won tickets to Heineken House, the official headquarters of the Dutch Olympic Body to watch the Opening Ceremony. Surreal. To have the Olympics in your own country yet to watch the opening ceremony on a big screen in Alexander Palace in Dutch with no English subtitles, surrounded by slightly *non plussed by Danny Boyles nuances but cheering nonetheless* Dutch people. Dressed in Orange. Not a Union jack in site. Suited my perverse and contrarian nature.
Later on in the week I benefited from the amazing programming at the Meltdown festival at the Southbank and saw the virginal hat trick of Diamanda Galas, Laurie Anderson and Marina Abramovic – as well as Anthony and the Johnsons – as in I was virginal, and lucked out by managing (courtesy of a friend who was very on it) to get a cheap ticket for the womens’ football finals at Wembley.
Up until then I had just been enjoying the invisible but evident holiday atmosphere and general good vibe in the city, but Wembley was something else. Over 8000 people united in common celebration spontaneously morphing into mexican waves that rippled around the stadium as a sheer unselfconscious expression of joy.
The idea that our body is a reflection of the universe around us, and that the laws of nature are the same whether they can be seen in the outside world or unseen in the inner worlds is not new, yet often gets forgotten in acts of expediency. If people can reach a critical mass whereby if enough people are vibing to the same thing, it will become so infectious that everyone will, well, be infected and embody the same vibe, than surely that can happen to cells? It is commonly acknowledged that laughter is infectious, happiness is infectious. Could good health be infectious? I know that sounds like a contradiction in terms, but we talk about catching viruses and illness, but what about catching a dose of good health. Imagine if boosting the immune system was contageous.
Maybe cells work like ants work like people work when they are doing the mexican wave. For scientists studying ants and other social insects the term used is Allelomimesis, a fine sounding word to describe the affect of the individual on other individuals until a social body is created with the same goal in mind. It basically describes the snowball affect that happens when:
I imitate others, others imitate me, and we all end up doing the same thing. (Dussutour)
The crucial point being – the more individuals doing the same thing increases the probability of more individuals joining them. And it is not just ants –
the more people have a habit pattern — whether of knowledge, perception or behavior — the stronger it is in the field, and the more easily it replicates in a new person. In fact, it seems such fields exist for other entities too — for birds, plants, even crystals. Rupert Sheldrake named these phenomena morphogenetic fields — fields which influence the pattern or form of things. (http://www.co-intelligence.org/P-morphogeneticfields.html)
There is probably loads written about the snowball affect, critical mass, and the phenomena of morphogenetic fields, within the context of molecular biology, but how can we use this information regarding cancer treatments, how can we find the tipping point or critical mass of health?
Cancer cells can be said to be stubborn, resistant, socially dysfunctional and greedy, compromising the host body and its collective cellular organism for their own individual survival which brings to mind the individuals and the faceless corporate structures who thrive and perpetuate the moral bankruptcy in a culture of mercenary global capitalism.
I can’t help but make connections to what is happening in the outside world and what is happening in the body, us anthromoporphic Guinea-pigs of Tao are trained as such.
The social body and the corporeal body are intrinsically linked – and so are the ways by which the malfunctioning/cancerous cells of both can be disenabled. They both require a major paradigmatic shift in thinking in order for effective ecological solutions to be found.
The Olympics has been a testimony to the power of collective influence, as it seemed the whole country became slowly, and bit by bit, infected with enthuisasm, positivity, and wholehearted participation. From curmudgeonly naysayers like myself being converted from cynicism to the ecstatic joy of mexican waving and Wembley attendance, to the success of the host country Olympian athletes, spurred on by belief and positivity from attending crowds and armchair viewers, a belief and positivity that gained momentum as the games continued.
Pert, Candace B. Molecules of Emotion: Why You Feel the Way You Feel. New York: Scribner, 1997.
Goleman, Daniel. Emotional Intelligence. New York: Bantam Books, 1995.