Jane Ballot

Being me in the world

Monday 23rd March

Dad went off to America on business – and loved it. An American friend of theirs living here in SA, told Dad that he’d seen America ‘through rose-coloured glasses’.

She was right, of course, as it’s rarely that a visitor will see and experience a place in the same light as those who live there, or will really understand the realities of a place.

I’ve done the same thing, in America too! I think we all have – though, not necessarily in America. Years ago, a contingent of us went off to suss out the Tisch School of Arts in New York. We were most generously hosted and New York was just wonderful. I’m sure it is for many tourists.

This made me think of putting lenses on things that we see. I realised that I permanently see the world through my own form of ‘rose-coloured’ glasses, as, without my specs I see the world very differently and would not be able to do a lot I take foregranted and would do a whole lot of others pretty much inefficiently.

There are lots of people in the same position as me – or similar positions, who need glasses to see the world ‘normally’.

I had an uncle who was colour blind. As a result he chose a particularly garish shade of green for the cupboards in the kitchen of his beach cottage. It was pretty much like a virulent shade of chroma green, so being in the kitchen was rather like playing out real life in front of a green screen, only without any cool CGI to fill in the blanks.

It’s all about different things that help us to see the world either differently, or pretty much as everybody else does.

As part of Drama, in fact as part of education, we often talk about ‘framing’ activities, knowledge or the subject of discussion. Again, like with glasses, it’s about providing a particular way of making sense of what is going on around us.

In many ways, this cancer thing is like that: it has given me a particular frame through which I think I see most things at the moment. It’s not that everything is about the cancer, far from it. It’s rather that everything is coloured by the experience and, also, as though everything will be tainted by thoughts I have as a result of having had cancer.

Maybe this will change as my perspective changes with time, I don’t know. Maybe, from now on, I will be looking at the world permanently through the lens / frame of cancer.

Maybe this is not such a bad thing, because having had this experience definitely makes me more aware of things in life and more appreciative of everything around me – and that may be something to celebrate.

I think that people think that cancer is something to, if not actually mourn, then at least to be unhappy about. Perhaps, though, cancer is one of those things that is a blessing in disguise. I have not gone through this whole cancer thing bemoaning my fate. In many ways, I have just accepted it. After all, what other choice does one have than to do just that and to do what must be done to get rid of / treat the disease condition? Now, though, as the cancer thing plays on my mind, even subconsciously, I should look at what it has done for me, not what it has taken; should celebrate the lens that has me looking at things with a great deal more appreciation and not a little bit of gratitude.

Maybe, in its own way, the cancer thing has provided my own set of ‘rose-coloured’ glasses.

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