Discover more from Lion Heart Leadership — by Jordan Bates
I Got Covid: A Letter of Reckoning
Personal contemplations at a crossroads
I got Covid.
It hit me pretty hard last Monday, and I spent most of the last week in bed. Tanja and Lila got it too, which made for quite an intense and at times frightening and stressful few days.
Monday was by far the worst day for me, especially Monday night. It felt somewhat like a dark ayahuasca journey—a fever dream that not only felt physically abysmal but which also thrust me headlong into a shadowy psychic basement. I felt forced to deeply, viscerally confront and taste the evil of the world. It felt like I could sense every human’s shadows in psychic high-definition, and this felt disturbing. It felt like basically everyone was to some extent “possessed” by dark forces that have ‘hooked’ into us—largely unbeknownst to us.
Even “spiritual leaders” whose work I’ve appreciated were being shown to harbor bubbling, stewing shadow-modules of which they were scarcely aware. I felt like I was being psychically attacked—as if many shadowy forces had been waiting for me to be weak and vulnerable so they could pounce on me. I’m not making claims about the truth content of these feelings—just trying to capture the phenomenology of what happened.
Deep, old fears of mine were being called forth and played upon: It felt like everyone secretly hated me, no one loved me, and everyone would abandon and betray me. All this was accompanied by a pounding headache, throbbing body aches, a scorching fever, chills, night sweats, and what felt like a shrinking esophagus, making it difficult to breathe.
Monday night was also the worst night for Baby Lila, who was feverish and crying, so while going through my own personal hell I was also speaking with Tanja, trying to decide whether to take Li to a hospital, while messaging friends asking if they happened to know any pediatricians on the island who would be reachable if Li’s condition worsened.
Eventually we all fell asleep, and —thankfully— when we woke the next morning, the worst seemed to have passed. The next few days were achey, slow, sweaty, emotional, and not at all a walk in the park, but they were a vast improvement over that first night. It’s now Saturday. As I write I’m laying in a long chair-bed-thing in the yard at our AirBnb, soaking in some sun rays. My body still aches a bit. I’m still low-energy. I still have a minor cough, a tickle in my throat, and some phlegm I’m spitting up here and there. Yesterday a fair bit of angry and depressive energy came up. I’m glad to report that today I’m back to feeling more myself, psychologically balanced, relatively okay.
Fast forward a couple more days. It’s now Monday again, one week having gone by since the Corona struck.
Last Monday was also the day that I wrote and published ‘Pay No Attention to the War’—a piece that I’ve since unpublished. I resonate with a decent chunk of what I said in that piece, but I also ended up feeling like that post was in some ways the beginning of my Corona purge. I feel like it didn’t come cleanly from my heart, and I feel like it had some of that non-dual bypass-y energy that I spoke about a couple months ago in ‘It’s All Real.’
I just wanna say that I send Love to all those affected by war and violence on the planet at this time. My heart is with you. I really cannot imagine what those in Ukraine and Russia and elsewhere are currently going through. All I can do is acknowledge the immense suffering and keep opening my heart.
I’ll admit that I’m fairly surprised by the intensity and staying-power of Corona. I’ve only been ill one time in the past ~3 years that I can recall, and that only lasted a day or so. This Corona stuff really seems to be clinging on. It’s now been 8 days and still I feel weak, tired, kinda brain-foggy, achey, and I’m still coughing stuff up.
I’ve also been surprised by the emotional and psychological dimensions of the whole thing. At least in our case, it really ‘got under our skin’ at times and pushed some distressing buttons. It’s been a humbling and sobering experience for sure.
This run-in with Corona feels like yet another shake-up in a time when Life seems to be doing its best not to give me any sense of solid ground to stand on. The last few months have been marked by a lot of ongoing fluctuations: There have been unexpected conflicts with friends; unforeseen financial setbacks; abrupt partings with previous mentors. There’s often been a feeling of bouncing: Bouncing between feeling like some kind of ‘guru’ to feeling like some kind of fraud to feeling like ‘just a dude’—and back and forth and back and forth. Bouncing between feeling sorta-omniscient and feeling like I don’t know shit at all. Bouncing in and out of intense bouts of sorta-manic grandiosity. Going from a period of weekly reality-melting deep-diving with 5-MeO-DMT to now presently feeling like it’s about time to take a long break from psychedelics. Going through profound heart-openings yet still noticing myself lapsing back into the comfortably aloof hideaway of closed-hearted non-dual bypassing. Bouncing between feeling like “Azores is the New Earth” to feeling like, “Damn, it is ungrounding af to live on an island in the middle of the ocean. I’m homesick for Iowa and my family and friends.” Bouncing from feeling deeply aligned as a partner and father to sometimes wondering, “Damn, what did we get ourselves into…” Bouncing from feeling good about my “career path” to wondering if I should just totally shift gears and learn to be a farmer or carpenter or something…
So… yeah… it’s kinda been a lot. And when you further factor in that I’ve been rootlessly wandering the globe near-continuously for almost 9 years… And when you factor in the sorta-ridiculous amount of entheogens I ingested along the way, especially since discovering ayahuasca in 2018… Phew… 😅 Yeahhhhh… Shit. It’s really been a wild decade—one that would probably make Hunter S. Thompson proud (and I’m not sure that’s a good thing, no offense HT)… There’s a lot to integrate. Probably enough for a lifetime.
I’m not sure where I’m going with this really. I guess I just felt like sharing honestly, from the heart. Feels like a moment of reckoning. I guess I felt like making it abundantly, undeniably clear that I am “human—all too human.” I’m just a dude.
I don’t know what’s going on. I don’t know if Earth is “ascending.” I don’t know if “Babylon” is crumbling. I don’t know if Nature is benevolent. I don’t know what happens after death. I don’t know if I have a soul with a unique purpose. I don’t know, man. I don’t know. 12 years of hardcore investigation and countless unspeakably explosive mystical experiences have led me to a big, fat IDK.
Well, I guess I know a few things. I know I love my daughter. I love my partner. I love my family. I love my friends. I love animals, rap music, novels, saunas, delicious food, (disc) golf, bonfires, hiking, poker, kayaking, creating stuff, parties, dancing, laughing & goofing around, good beer, camping, long aimless walks in the city, and so on. I cried as I wrote about the things I love. Felt good and true.
So here we are, on this island in the middle of the Atlantic, still recovering from Corona. To be honest we’ve started to feel pretty sure that Azores, while a cool spot, is not our long-term base after all. Let me know if you have an idea of a beautiful place for a potential homebase for us. We’re considering a possible return to Berlin—though we no longer have an apartment there, and finding housing in Berlin is notoriously shitty, so if you happen to know of anything, or know anyone who might be able to help, I’d be much obliged if you’d shoot me a note.
Seems somehow cosmically ironic that in this moment of deep personal reckoning and identity-restructuring I am supposed to be leading a 5-week group journey called Be You in a few days, starting this Sunday, April 10th.
Maybe it’s perfect, though. It does feel like, in light of this Corona saga, I want to balance out the intended playfulness of Be You with plenty of rawness, realness, and deep honesty. I want to use art and poetry as vehicles to countenance and accept ourselves more fully in all our multifaceted complexity. And yeah, I also still wanna get playful and silly and stuff.
If you’re thinking of joining us for Be You, feel welcome to shoot me a note and let me know, or go ahead and register here. If the financial commitment is too steep for you, DM me and let’s figure something out.
All right, I think that brings me to the conclusion of this letter of reckoning. If you read all the way till here, you’re awesome, thank you for caring.
I’m feeling fairly raw, soft, and tender at the moment. I also feel grateful. And I feel okay. It felt good to be really transparent in this letter. I hope it was valuable for you.