Jane Ballot

Being me in the world

Friday 10th April

I think I must resolve never to mention or comment on the chemo taste, because when I do, it just comes back. Or lingers. I woke up this morning with the taste, just to remind me. Again, it did not last into the day, but there it was. Again.

I firmly believe that if we say things we do not actually pre-empt something that may happen. I’m sure the taste coming and going is just part of the ‘getting over the whole thing’ process and the taste, too, will eventually just go – most probably without me even noticing it properly. It’s just one of those things and something that happens.

It’s all about the ‘one step at a time’ thing.

I have a bunch of oldie-goldie CDs playing in my car. Today I heard the theme from An Officer and a Gentleman, ‘Love lifts us up where we belong’. The one line tells us that “we climb a step every day”. This, of course, reminded me of the ‘one step at a time’ approach to the cancer thing. Everything, I think, is actually like that: we can only go one step at a time, even if we are multi-tasking. It’s just becoming conscious of the steps that is important when we face something unusual, difficult and upsetting. Then the steps themselves are so very important and we need to keep soldiering on, toiling upwards as necessary. Even in situations where it feels as though there have been three steps forward and two steps back, at least we have taken the steps. We may have to repeat some of them, but it is still about the upward trajectory and taking whichever step is next in the road.

There is no journey that is not interesting in its own way. Even the most routine of trips to the shops to buy groceries, or to fetch someone from school, can have just one thing that is different, that holds our attention for even a brief second. Larger, longer journeys that demand more of us must surely also hold many of the seconds (and even longer) of interest.

I think there is a difference of opinion about whether it is the destination or the travel itself that matters most whenever one embarks on any kind of journey. I suppose it all depends on where you are going. Surely if the trip is to the dentist, there can be no possible argument!

I have always hated travelling by car, for some reason. I think it’s just been about a desire to be at the place and that the journeys have inevitably been long and, often, hot and crowded. It’s also felt like a bit of a waste of the time we could be spending at, say, the farm. In my older age, I have decided to embrace the journey as part of the whole experience. After all, there couldn’t be a holiday at the other place if we never travelled to get there.

With something like the cancer thing, the destination is almost all-important, because there is a clear aim to be achieved. That makes the journey second best, surely. What happens if the goal-posts keep shifting, though? Or if you are not actually sure when you have arrived at the destination? Then, surely, the journey is what matters most, because that is the real experience.

With something big like cancer, it seems as though the journey is not ever truly over. The processes, the experiences, the people, the learning. That is what the journey comes with. And those are what make it so enriching and so extremely interesting. And so life-affirming.

We climb a step, we move along a step, every day. As we take those steps, we need to look around us and just see what life has to offer – often through an altered frame, a different way of looking at the world.

Don’t disregard the importance of every step of the journey (including the coming and going of the chemo taste), it’s the only way of getting where you aim to be.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *