25 July 2022

a very old, old joy

Since it came to Earth, the water has been cycling through air, rocks, animals and plants. Each molecule has been on an incredible journey. When you feel alone, try to remember that at some point the water inside you would have been inside dinosaurs, or the ocean, or a polar ice-cap, or maybe a storm cloud over a faraway sea at a time when the sea was still nameless. Water crosses millennia and boundaries and borders.

Remember, we all have something in common, and that is the water that runs through us.

 Christy Lefteri (from: Songbirds, a novel 2021)

Since 2013, I have been following writer Paul Salopek walking the Out of Eden Walk, along the pathways of the first humans who migrated out of Africa spreading across the planet. He is currently in China and this is latest video.

Whether we like it or not, we are all walking together into a bottleneck new century, with the climate crisis upon us, with gigantic gaps in income, with rising tribalism across ideologies, we face a pretty difficult path ahead, a panorama of uncertainty. The walk teaches me this: That we stand a better chance of survival by walking together, by learning from each other, by listening to each other's ideas, and by pulling each other up as we move forward. There is a very old, old joy in this approach. Every new day on my trail, whether I wake up in a Buddhist temple or the hut of a Sichuan yak herder, the word that floats to mind always as I lace up my boots for another day is the same. It's yes.

Paul Salopek

17 July 2022

same old same old

Late this morning while we were cleaning up the breakfast stuff from the patio, R asked me why I was crying and I touched my face and yes, surprise, he was right. For a moment I was at a loss and then it hit me. I miss my child so badly, I said and then it was over, weird as it was. It is not as if she has suddenly vanished. I mean, she's been living far away for the best part of the last 15 years but we talk several times a week and as R says, she never shuts up, doesn't she.

Now I feel old. Actually, I am old. And ill. And a bit miserable. But other than that, it was a beautiful morning, clear skies, low humidity, bees and butterflies and birds, all the pleasant Sunday noises and so on. The extreme heat is supposedly going to hit us by tomorrow.

these beauties are flowering at last

So let's see. I've been sitting in a doctor's waiting room three, four, five times in recent weeks? I forget. Every visit was an example of careful attention, I have no complaints other than that I had to accept that, yes, this, these last couple of weeks of exhaustion and inflammations here and there and everywhere was a flare up and yes, steroids were called for. And people, cortisone is a miracle drug. If only it would not have all the side effects. The deal was for five days at high dosage and on day four, I was jubilant, no other word for it. Despite the stomach aches and the racing heart beat and the sleepless nights and the mood swings. Hence the tears, I think, but as of today I am coming down to normal grumpy me and keeping fingers crossed etc.

grapes ripening one month earlier than in recent years

When I am visibly unwell, English speaking people usually ask, what's wrong with you? And immediately, I could get all defensive and wish I could reply that there is nothing wrong with me, that - only - something went wrong with my immune system but that's it. 

I don't. I am polite and assume they didn't mean it, that social stigmatisation and - watch out: new terminology - ableism doesn't exist in my circle of friends.

(Ableism is defined as the discrimination of and social prejudice against people with disabilities, based on the belief that able-bodied people are superior. It is, at its core, rooted in the assumption that disabled people require fixing and, very importantly, defines people by their disability.)

The German terminology is somewhat different. Whether doctor or colleague, the question is: was fehlt dir? What are you missing/lacking? I feel looked after when I hear this. I do.

the covid patch gone mad

I know, believe me, that there are more important things in life than health. Of course, well-being is easier to achieve when there is no disease to worry about. To assume that health is the most important thing in life - this is an attitude only healthy people can afford. And I know that too well, I used to be one of them.

When you end up with a chronic illness, you figure it out, you must understand, eventually, that not life itself, but the conditions under which life takes shape are changed.

Or as one medical expert along the way told me ages ago, paraphrasing the words of Viktor Frankl: When you are faced with situations out of your control, you need to adapt to those circumstances. You need to find meaning in that situation. That is, to find what you can learn from it, and discover ways to carry you through.

apricot and cherry season, best of all

When I experience a flare up, I am lost at the very end of a seesaw, in the middle of which I try to balance most of the time. On the one side, the world of the healthy, with all the joys, banalities, tasks and adversities that life contains - all of which way out of reach. On the other side, the world of the sick, which is not necessarily darker overall, but in many ways very different. To achieve balance again and again and to figure out where I am right now, that is the skill - one that I will never fully master. 

Things can only get better.