10 April 2017

Killary Harbour/An Caoláire Rua (Atlantic coast Ireland) 2009

Reclining on the blue leatherette space chair, I fiddle with the remote control for a while, figuring out which way to lift the various leg support options and how to keep my back straight, where to plug in my phone and how to avoid getting the headphone cord tangled up with the iv drip tube. I put my flask of chamomile tea on the little side table, together with the container of porridge with fresh blueberries R made earlier (I eat it cold in the end, my bp was too low to wait for someone's help with the microwave), the paperback (I never opened) and the stack of consent forms I had signed earlier.
And for the next eight hours I am surrounded by calm, kind efficiency. By people who wake up in the morning and get ready for a meaningful day, taking blood samples, adjusting infusion speeds, monitoring bp and heart rate, who run down aisles and hold hands and untangle cords and show off their colourful socks to make me smile. All day I was showered with dedication and purpose (which in my case was to administer the next round of monoclonal antibody therapy). I loved them all.
There I was, feeling broken and pretty useless, my life's purpose and dedication gone out the window (at least for the time being) and for a moment, I wanted to shout, don't waste your beautiful, efficient energy on me, I've had my share, go and look for what needs fixing so much more urgently.

But believe me, at the same time, I urgently wanted them to spend it all on me and me alone. And yet:

We already have everything we need. There is no need for self-improvement. All these trips that we lay on ourselves—the heavy-duty fearing that we’re bad and hoping that we’re good, the identities that we so dearly cling to, the rage, the jealousy and the addictions of all kinds—never touch our basic wealth. They are like clouds that temporarily block the sun. But all the time our warmth and brilliance are right here. This is who we really are. We are one blink of an eye away from being fully awake.

Pema Chödrön


  1. That is absolutely one of the most beautiful quotations I have ever read.
    I hope it is true with all of my heart.

  2. Everything she says is worth listening to.

  3. Oh you remind me of the time I spent next to my mother when she was having her monoclonal antibody infusion. The comfy chair, the helpful staff, the other patients getting treatments of all kinds in the oncology lab. The hard work of good people, those administering the care and those getting it.
    You do find the most beautiful quotes, Sabine. Thank you for this. Hope you are doing well.

  4. You wouldn't have printed those words unless you believe them or hope to believe them. Your warmth and brilliance are clearly visible.

  5. When I saw the beautiful oceanscape/landscape in Ireland, my first thought was than you and R had traveled to Ireland in the present. I didn't see the date. I thought you were reclining in Ireland. It wasn't until I saw the words "monoclonal antibody therapy" that I realized where you are writing from.

    Directly after reading the quote you posted from Pema Chödrön, a photo of her as a young woman arrived via email, along with an article about her:


    The photo makes me think of you and your bright spirit. Sending love to you, Sabine.

  6. Dear Sabine-Those bright souls around you-I suspect that they get out of bed in order to serve you, to be of service to you so that your life and their lives and all of our lives can continue, in our brokenness and wholeness. The gift of giving and receiving is one of the mysteries; we cannot have one without the other. As you so freely give to us, your fans, on this wee blog...

    May you have ease and a world of kindness wherever you are, Ireland or a leatherette armchair.

    XX Beth

  7. The socks, Oh, My, The SOCKS!

  8. I'm blinking. For both of us. Thank you for that beautiful reminder from Pema.

  9. Now there's a blast from the past - leatherette. A word that was meant to be purely descriptive I suppose but now is only pejorative; a fake material with pretensions.

    In Britain one may, if one wishes, spell chamomile without the h. Neither is right or wrong. Confusingly there was a TV series (or adaptation) called The Camomile Lawn which, obviously, one could not drink. I felt such a lawn would be kind to my feet but that wasn't sufficient reason for switching it on. Titles can be the very devil, get them wrong and your work is left to oblivion. I was never likely to watch The Game Of Thrones because I sensed the author's creativity straining at the leash. Later there was a hint - although it may have referred to something else entirely - that TGOT was born out of a computer game. Thus it became doubly damned. Not that I've anything against computer games; during the longueurs of telephone conversation I regularly play Solitaire, hoping vainly to break my record of 6000-plus points but secretly knowing this is now beyond me. Stooping I wheeze.

    Words are like tiny balls of mercury, don't you think?