My Father taught me a few things, without of course, knowing that he was teaching me in the process thereof. One of them involved my first post university job, or the attempt at landing one.
There is a place I go, a not necessarily pleasant place but it is, all the same, necessary that I go there. It’s also, ironically enough, a place of solace. It’s not a beach, a forest, a mountain, or a lake, even though they are places I love.
When we are young our spirit is to make our own way, to turn our backs on whatever it is that society entreats of us, to collectively thumb our nose and to carry rebellion as a badge of honour, or at least is was back in the day. As a child of the 70’s, I wonder if it’s still that way…
It commanded my attention searing its way through my chest, its steady rhythm building to an ominous crescendo, the reverberation ricocheting between my ears as it clutched my throat in a vice like grip.
A short video montage, mainly walking, of progress since my surgery.
Stooping down and listless still
the rain, the pavement scarried
the men they took my food and oil
and all that I had carried
It’s been two years and I haven’t been able to write. A combination of factors has contributed to this creative inertia, summarised, in general terms, by the existence and subsequent evacuation of a brain tumour and by the summary afflictions that comprise recovery of same.
I gave a friend a lift home from our support group meeting. He doesn’t drive, recovering as he is from his brain surgery. It was a good opportunity to catch up with him, hear news of treatment, of recovery progress, to share the odd anecdote, and complain about the traffic.
There are times, when viewed in the rear view mirror, when those moments of temporary crisis are upon us, when thought strings are tangled, when things spiral, when all we want is some small semblance of control.
We live in a political world and as much as we might like to turn a blind eye to that fact, we can’t avoid it. You may wonder then, what has led me down this rabbit hole and enquire as to what politics has to do with having a brain tumour.
It’s a touchy subject war, and that one day of the year when we’re confronted with the futility of it has again rolled around. I should also add, that, tenuous as it may seem, I am making a link to my own brain tumour journey.
You might be wondering who I’m quoting here. A clergyman perhaps? Or clergywoman? if you can find one. A nurse? An artist?
“Sometimes you’re better off not knowing,” I said to a good friend as we sat outside sipping coffee. He nodded in tacit agreement, without completely understanding what I was trying to say, giving me permission to keep going…
Things are somewhat difficult just at present. I stumble, almost falling backwards and all I’m doing is making lunch, a toasted sandwich. It’s the price I’m paying for having the brain tumour removed and the subsequent and ongoing recovery of same.
Half-wracked prejudice leaped forth
“Rip down all hate,” I screamed
Lies that life is black and white
Spoke from my skull. I dreamed
Romantic facts of musketeers
Foundationed deep, somehow
Ah, but I was so much older then
I’m younger than that now
Before I go on, I should preface my comments by saying that my intended audience for this missive is not the brain tumour community, they may read this and remark “tell me something I don’t already know”. It’s for anyone who may know a brain tumour survivor, or has met one, and who wonders what the fuss is about.
Clive James, in answering a question about his writing life, a question about the writing process, answered thus, “I get up in the morning, make myself a cup of coffee, walk up the stairs to my office, stare out the window and do what all great writers must do…”
The UN’s Philip Alston is an expert on deprivation – and he wants to know why 41m Americans are living in poverty. The Guardian joined him on a special two-week mission into the dark heart of the world’s richest nation