26 June 2016

Waking, I turn my face to the open window. Blue sky. Someone is opening a car door, encouraging a small child to come on out. Sunday sounds.
My back hurts like fire and hell and I am expecting the end of the world any minute. I decide to go back to work tomorrow, to sort out the most urgent stuff and then call R with my whiniest voice to pick me up. But. If I cannot handle a full day at work (a full day is 5 hrs) I also will need to go back to my GP and I am already rehearsing my apologies for taking up more of her time (- which of course is borderline pathetic). I won't use my whiniest voice, no. I will make myself sound jocular and confident and I will shrug my shoulders slightly, indicating that shit has happened again and that it means nothing, really.
In my darkest self pity moments I am contemplating the next scenarios incl. herniated discs and permanent nerve damage and the worst case, namely that all my remaining teeth are quietly rotting away underneath and behind their shiny white exterior and that any moment, they will all crumble and explode with endless excruciating pain, simultaneously of course.

21 years ago, we crashed the car on the motorway driving west into the sun during a sudden and unexpected snow shower. Nothing too dramatic, slow moving rush-hour traffic, crawling along. We were on our way home from my grandmother's funeral. She had died just short of her 103rd birthday. The funeral was a brief affair and we left early to get home before dark but also because S was getting bored and cranky. 
The car - cheap, small, second hand, French - was a complete write-off, and after the police had been and gone, when the tow-truck had dropped it and us at a garage (closed for the night), we stuffed what we could carry into our bags and slunk away like thieves. Running along the dual carriageway towards the nearest railway station, mother father daughter holding hands and laughing hysterically. Always the lucky ones, we were. Fearless, we were. Oh yes!

Three weeks later, I woke up one morning in pain with a paralyzed right leg. 
Six weeks after the surgery I was running along Brittas Bay as if my life was always worth having. As if everything would always turn out well in the end.

I cannot remember when it stopped, my confidence, my ignorant belief that all will turn out well.  Maybe because it was too easy and I am fed up with easy.


  1. I think most of us live "as if everything would always turn out well in the end." It's human nature. As I once read somewhere, if we lived in constant awareness of our own fallibility and mortality, from the moment of birth until death, we'd be too suffused with fear and dread to do anything. Denial is an evolutionary necessity.

  2. This post reminded me of a post I read the other day on another blog. For those of us who live in pain quite a bit of the time, I found it a source of great comfort. A bit of Zen for life:

    1. This body is of the nature to grow old. I know this body cannot avoid the aging process. My practice is to steward body, mind and feelings so that vitality can be there in every moment and concepts of old/young drop away. When the signs of aging are inevitably present, I accept them honestly and with good humour.

    2. This body is of the nature to have pain and illness. I know this body cannot avoid pain and illness. My practice is to care for this body well – exercising it, stretching it out, feeding it wisely, dancing it and spending as much time in nature as possible. In those many moments without pain and illness, I practice awareness of no pain/no illness – with gratitude and joy. When illness and pain are present, I care for them gently, wisely and honestly.

    3. This body is of the nature to die. Whether by accident, illness, old age or violence – this body will die. I know this body cannot avoid death. My practice is to know I am alive and celebrate life in every moment, so that I do not sleepwalk through life only to find it ending without having paid attention.

    4. Everyone and everything I love – I know I will be separated from all of them at some point. My practice is to honour and cherish those and that which I love in every moment we share.

    5. My actions, words and thoughts are my only true possessions. They are my continuation.

    I googled “five remembrances” and found very similar passages in other places. I loved it and thought it worth remembering.

  3. I wish we could all get that confidence, that trust in the world back. It was golden, wasn't it? Who knew it was an illusion? I've been dealing with the beginning stages of degenerative disc disease since early this year, so you very much got my attention with your third paragraph. Please use that whiny voice when you need to. I am of the belief that there is absolutely no virtue to suffering in silence. A full day of work is also overrated. Find your pleasure where you can. And keep writing because it is often the high point of my day.

  4. Dearest Sabine-

    Pain finds us in all forms, doesn't it? I'm no good at equanimity but I'm learning more to love myself inside the pain; physical, emotional, or spiritual. Very difficult.

    A grandmother is reading to her grandchild just on the other side of the counter where I'm sitting at work. The child-high voice, the soothing older woman, a quiet stream of words I can't make out.

    Beautiful. The small moments.

  5. I'm abiding with you. You're such a beautiful, raw and honest writer.