Coping, (an ambling essay).
Updated: Jul 27
(If you want, skip to the end to get the 'message')...
None of us have choice over what we will physically suffer, but we do control our attitude. How we react to what is happening inside our bodies and brains, for they are inseparable, determines the state of our minds, which determine the quality of our lives. Tension quickly mounts when we are confronted by adversity, however, holding on to stress accumulates detrimental chemicals which affect our physical and mental journey.
For me, this is fascinating. This week the consultant said I could go blind instantly, even by the end of this blog. I’ve also lost a tenth of my weight in four months; I’m excessively tried despite being on the highest; most dangerous dose of steroids (to help my body fight back); passing urine isn't easy. Classic prostrate cancer signals, a quick killer. My dear brother-in-law died within months of diagnosis. My new doctors in this town we’ve recently moved to, overwhelmed by the complexity of my health picture, missed this as they concentrated on the blindness issue.
Readers will know I too have been distracted from it all as all our physical, mental and emotional energy has been spent getting this tired old house habitable before a moving deadline pushed us from a rental. As you know, everything went wrong. I ignored my body. I had no choice. We had to work, day after day, regardless.
And so now, sat in the dining room upon our hard garden bench, for there’s work still to be done before we can accept our furniture, but in an almost renovated, clean house, I am listening to one of Mozart’s Clarinet Concertos and I’m sipping a delicious cup of tea. It's not yet 6.30am and I am attempting to work out what I feel by writing this blog. Because I am not at all logical, (although practical and common sensical), I find writing helps sort my thoughts, although I must be careful not to influence my thinking by swinging with the sway sentences and literary influences seek to push me. Pausing, as if writing with a pen, rather than rushing over the keyboard, aides clarity.
We all know life is fleeting, but when you are faced with it’s probable near ending, your mind concentrates. You look at what’s important to you. For several months I’ve been aware that my under-mind has been concerned to get this property up and running and our finances resolved so that my wife won’t be left alone with the huge problems it once presented. It gives great relief that we have almost arrived, have only to complete building under-stairs storage cupboards, erect two doors, cut-to-fit skirting boards and paint one room. That’s it! Yippee!
And then what? Live. Enjoy. Relax.
That sounds simple, and it is is, but for thirty years we have been dogged by cash-flow. I bet you weren’t expecting that turn? It seems so trite after the above, but when you are unwell you can’t earn as much and each month is a struggle to get through and the next starts with repaying the accumulating overdraft created. Bit by bit you sink ever deeper and so there is never enough to do simple things such as buy the quality of food you like. You count each penny, it is stressful. Thirty years of that, intertwined with continual health problems acutely threatening my life at various unexpected times, then the subsequent aftermath of an even more restricted existence after each nasty bout; these too take their toll.
My poor, gentle, compassionate wife. I know nobody as empathetic, as genuinely tender hearted. Kind to me, yes, but to everyone. She overflows with it. Even on the roads when road-rage hogs force her over, she instantly assumes there’s a reason and doesn’t get flapped. So much nicer than me… I frequently tell her to leave me, find a better, nicer model from the man-factory. Now, after decades of meeting every challenge my poor health has thrown up, she has this to face. Possible termination. Just when our financial and living problems are finally, finally, solved, And yes, so do I.
But Hey! We’ve had an amazing life! And even when you don’t feel well, might soon be gone, you can live to the level you are capable of and lift your awareness from the murky unpleasantness nipping every part of your body, dragging your mind down into a pit of self pity. That, at the end of the day, is where you land. It’s a dungeon none of us like, and it’s a struggle to extricate yourself if you’ve allowed yourself to wallow in this quagmire.
Lifting yourself from this stinky swamp is actually quite easy. But it takes patience. An uncomplicated exercise helps me face my problems, but only if I make it a priority, like eating, drinking, exercising, resting. That sounds boring, mad even, impossible maybe, but the reward is extraordinary. Even when ridden with crippling pain, discomfort, sickness, it works, but only if I’m fully attentive for these brief moments. I can do it when writing, working, sitting, walking, talking even. It’s a luxurious pause which gets me from my mind’s messy moods and thoughts and sets me firmly in my body-brain. No psychological mind loops such as trying to figure out the monotony of mindfulness technique and philosophy, only resting my attention in this wondrous being we are and which we take for granted.
Yes, I’ve mentioned it before.
I do so again for it works. I’ve taught it to others who’ve had the same results. If we were all to do this sort of thing, (other ways are available), we’d be less stressed, less bonkers, less destructive, more creative, sagacious, balanced and… content. We’d appreciate one another more, have better societies; happy, we’d want less, thus have a better environment, a more sustainable world, for the world as it it is right now spins on desire and desire ticks to the clock of discontentment. Dissatisfaction of who we are, what we are, where we are. This elegant exercise, simple as it is, slides us from the hectic mind and puts us back in touch with our body-brain being where a quieter consciousness awaits our attention. There’s nothing mysterious, no gobbledygook, it is felt by the purring cat, the fireside dog, it emerges from our organism when we are at peace.
They weave tales and theories around it to build systems to make us beholden to their supposed wisdom, we then contest each other for having a slightly different take on it, and there in a nutshell is human history. But if the blinkin’ cat and the dog feel it, why not do away with all of that mind-messing and feel it yourself, right now.
You will find life! Briefly, for, habitually, we quickly let it slip past. Life is here, ignored, pulsing away quietly. We, trapped inside our heads, hardly notice it.
This graceful exercise, I immerse myself in it. It is found on my ‘books’ page, tap the icon ‘breathing’ (or this link). And enjoy.