Friday, 7 July 2017

Hurry Tomorrow - by Paul Phillips

This is just going to be a quick blog entry because I have weird turmoil sloshing around in my gut today like a washing machine full of dirty laundry.  I am due to meet an old friend today and I feel anxious about it.  It’s brought up the question of what I’m doing and where I am.  Do you remember when you were at school and you had some important exams coming up and you hadn’t prepared or revised?  I did that all the time.  I was the one who concocted revision timetables then spent so much time designing them that they were out of date before I started to revise. Then I would rewrite them and waste more time.  I was/am a procrastinator.  Now I have this horrible medical diagnosis and what am I doing?  I’m not even writing a list.  So when I meet my friend and he asks what I’ve been doing there will be a pause and then a familiar reply; “not much,” followed by some justification.

There are at least two schools of thought vying for attention in my head.  One says slow down and just enjoy the important things in life, spend time with close friends and family.  Which I can see makes a lot of sense and satisfies what is considered truly important in life.  Then on the other hand there is the bucket list approach.  Do those things you have always wanted to do, grab life by the short and curlies and live it to the full.  Different horses for different courses.  Or of course you can do a combination of both, weighted in whichever way suits you.
Alternatively you can just carry on as before and ignore the whole thing because it doesn’t feel very real.  I am riding that particular pony – to extend the horse metaphor.  I am 43 and before my diagnosis I didn’t really know what I wanted to do with myself.  I was just plodding on with life, with the occasional bout of angst and unease about what I should be doing.  Since January this year the level of inner turmoil increased massively and caused much consternation but has now settled back down to background noise punctuated by some screams of inner malaise.  Today is a day of inner malaise and so was yesterday.
When I read posts on the Angiosarcoma Facebook page I feel sad and angry for those fellow AS sufferers and it’s a stark reminder that I have the same disease.  Right now it might not feel that way, but I do.  The horror they have experienced is there, maybe already etched into my future timeline.  So the feeling of angst builds.  I can’t do much about the physical reality of having cancer (if I’d have revised science more I could have become a great oncologist) but I can do something about deciding how I manage it.
So that’s where I am right now, still frustrated that I have already missed the chemistry revision that was planned for Wednesday and the English literature (poems of Philip Larkin) that was scheduled for last night and scratched them in favour of multiple episodes of Mad Men.
So what have I been doing?
I have booked a holiday to Greece for the end of the summer.  I am going back to start some work with my former employers next week.  It’s just a few hours a week but at least I will be doing something useful.  I’ve contacted someone this morning about a creative writing course.  I thought it might be enjoyable and a chance to make someone else read my inane ramblings.  As for family, I have driven my poor wife insane.  I have found yet more ways to annoy her that I find entertaining.  We have been able to spend more leisure time together in Bluestones and Somerset on short breaks.  These were welcome bonuses.
I’m going to just follow my gut instinct and just do what I think is right at any given moment.  I cannot predict exactly what will occur or how I will react to it.  I’ll try and remember there is no right way or wrong way to do this or anything else for that matter.
I read this quote by the 16th century philosopher Michel de Montaigne this morning, regarding the feeling that you’re not good enough or the sense that you are a fraud.
“Kings and philosophers shit – and so do ladies.”

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