I subscribe to TUT notes which sends daily inspirational quotations. Sometimes they fit, at other times they haven’t. Today’s goes like this:
‘Please tell anyone who wants to know, Anne, that a dream not followed by consistent action, however humble or small the actions may be, points to either a huge contradiction or a gigantic misunderstanding. Because when people are clear and they realise just how powerful they already are, wild horses can’t stop them from taking baby steps, every day.’
I’ve been taking baby steps for the past month, recovering from surgery, and as I emerge from a world of Clexane, Zapain, anaesthetics and pain relief, I wonder now, ‘What next?’
‘It’s not every day you get your life back,’ someone said to me recently, and I was forced to agree and yet it was not entirely taken from me – more reshaped by disease and the need for medical intervention, and the questions, anxieties and fears that go hand in hand with that process. Then my life was refashioned again, by the words, ‘You’re cured. We don’t need to see you again.’ Indeed I arrived home from hospital to find the house the same as I had left it – my perspective had fundamentally changed. Luck has played a part and in the midst of worry and fear there have been wonderful moments of friendship, joy, prayer and a sense of the absurd. These moments too, expanded my universe – made the world a slightly larger and infinitely kinder place.
I’ve been privileged that many people have shared stories with me, sent texts,facebook messages, get-well cards; gifts of flowers and books, random hugs. I loved everyone in my morphine-induced, post-operative state and for ten days or so functioned in a bit of a bubble. I’d had so many worries about major surgery and it was all fine. I was treated with care, compassion, skill and expertise by the NHS. What more could one ask? I was in good hands.The euphoria and sense of relief have not receded. However, the question of what all these experiences mean for me remain.
One of my favourite authors, Daphne Kapsali, serendipitously popped up on a Facebook feed with her book, “How to live a deliberate life.” Here she details the forces that conspire against writing, and she details how social conditioning and expectations shape what we do with our dreams. It contains a moving tribute to her father, ‘a fucking good poet’ and the impact of Greek austerity on his life and literary career. In fact, I had hoped to find a few pointers. but all I encountered was a brave writer, who personifies the competing forces in her life and details the tensions between them. Kapsali has the ability to describe a literal walk and suddenly it becomes a metaphor for encountering difficulties and joy in experiences, and as she writes and rewrites sentences, fashioning and refashioning words and phrases, she pushes towards finding joy in an ordinary (and therefore extraordinary) life. Perhaps that too is my answer.
Increasingly, I have the sense that the universe has flagged up a few questions about my life and where it goes from here. I guess there will be difficult choices at some point: Stay, Move, Relocate, Move South, Write More, Teach Less, Give up writing. There are no answers in neon lights, no lottery thumbs, no answers on a post card and this time no 50/50 answer – for that would mean continued compromise. And yet I have to balance the need to provide with my increasing urge for freedom.
But just for now, I’m thankful. I escaped with my life.