Before I get going if you don’t know the reference in the title then 1) What’s wrong with you? and 2) Go and check it out here
I’ve spent a while recently trying to organise a table for a charity ball in aid of children’s hospices. I managed to find enough people that were around at the right time (a bank holiday weekend and the start of half term when people are jetting off) and wanted to get measured and suited up – along with buying some new dresses for wives and girlfriends. It had been a job getting everyone together, booking table and rooms, collecting cash etc
Then I got a message saying someone couldn’t make it. They were in the RAF and had been called overseas. I was a bit miffed and immediately thought I’d have to track someone else down and then sort out getting money paid across and whether or not I could ask someone to take the place and then get them to pay full price etc etc. And then I slowed down a bit and thought about what he was being called overseas for. His posting was to India and having asked what the RAF had there he replied nothing but am organising aid being flown into Nepal. Talk about putting things into perspective. I’d only seen the picture above an hour or so earlier and my first thought was about the paltry problems my friend’s absence could cause me and not thought about the big picture.
I was disappointed as lately I’ve been looking a lot more at the big picture and rising above things that would previously have dragged me in. I’m no saint and can’t always say I keep out of things but I’ve got better recently. I’ve had fake accounts set up that used my picture and had gone through my wife’s account to find pictures and retweet them as well as including paedophile jokes. Charming I’m sure you’d agree and in the past it would have bothered me and got me wound up along with the various jibes and sarcastic comments. In the past I would have thought for a while about how to be sardonic in response and probably got embroiled in a particularly unhelpful and unhealthy exchange. I suppose it all made me think of the Simpson’s episode where Homer suggests that Bart lets, “the baby have its bottle.” So now the most I’ll offer in terms of a response is silence or a joke response as it’s about all things of this nature deserve – although I did think the paedophile jokes and trolling my wife’s account was a bit much (weird, offensive, disgusting perhaps?) so reported that one and twitter shut it down.
So what has given me this ability to seek calm and retreat into a zen like state? Well I’ve already reflected on the I’m Ok You’re Ok philosophy that encourages me to look for good in people and be able to take less to heart (I’ve also been quite taken with the notion of “people don’t hate you, they just hate themselves at you,” but that could just be denial) but it’s a couple of bigger things that have given me a sense of perspective and a sense of something bigger than twitter rows or whether Nicky Morgan is the same as Michael Gove, or whether knowledge or skills is the most important. I have an opinion on these and other things. Many, many other things, but they aren’t the things that define my existence.
One of them is something I’ll keep to myself for a while as it’s not my place to share – suffice it to say when you’ve laid on the floor of a casualty department with someone desperately close and important to you screaming and shouting after they’ve tried to take their own life while suffering from a severe episode of mental illness you don’t get worked up on whether Hirsch is a Democrat or a Republican. Cradling someone who is absolutely terrified while they don’t know where they are, who you are – or for that matter who they are – does help you see what’s worth getting worked up about.
The other is one that has only been a factor in my life recently. I suppose in some ways episodes like the one above – and yes it wasn’t an isolated case – had made me feel I was kind of impervious to most things but finding out my dad had cancer was still hard to hear and when I think about it it’s still coming through to me in waves and every so often the full implications of it smack me pretty hard in the face.
He got the diagnosis the day I was leaving my last job and typically for my dad didn’t want to tell me then as I was going out for a meal and it might spoil the day so it was a few days later that my mum rang me to let me know. She wasn’t going to tell me on the phone but I knew there was something there so I pressed and she did. He’d been ill for a while and had lost a lot of weight and was tired almost all the time but we’d put it down to a number of things; he was diagnosed with pre-diabetes and had to make massive changes to his diet, he’d had changes at work that were massively stressful, and his useless son had him doing all sort of repairs and renovations to his house. Still my mum knew there was something worth chasing (nurse’s intuition that didn’t help when I ACCIDENTALLY broke my brother’s ankle two and a half decades ago) so pressed for extra blood tests and eventually a number of scans.
They identified secondary cancer in his liver but weren’t sure of the primary so needed extra meetings and consultations. Extras that have now been going on for almost nine weeks and still with little sense of a next step. It’s hard waiting and the unknown is more terrifying than the first diagnosis as we still don’t know what it is we are dealing with and as such can’t take even the first steps. And I’m on the outside of it. I can’t even begin to think what it’s like for dad.
And that’s where we are. Still in the unknown. Waiting for a drip, drip of information from various doctors, some informed, some less so, some appearing to have no sense of empathy and others absolutely fantastic but ultimately pretty powerless. I’m likely to write more on this as I get a sense of what it’s about and I’ll apologise in advance if it’s a bit self indulgent but it’s a way of thinking things through.
So yeah, there are things that wind me up and no, I’m not immune to being abused (“do I not bleed?”) but I’m also aware of more things in heaven and on earth Horatio.
Lots of Love