Jane Ballot

Being me in the world

Monday 6th April

Some things fascinate me – like travelling. To me, it’s quite an amazing thing to think that this morning we were in East London, with Gran and Oupa (and the rain) and now, a mere 970 kms (or so) and a number of hours later, here we are, back at home – all in the same day J.

It may not seem like such a big thing, but, to me, any journey from one point to another a fair distance away just reinforces the idea that there are so many different places in this world, where life carries on: people go to work, or not; shops are open and sell things; it rains, or it doesn’t – and it is just a matter of time and distance that separate us from these other places. Where we find ourselves when, depends on the mode of transport and the amount of travel we undertake.

My niece got back from a hockey tour overseas today. For her, it must be even more weird – just a night and a plane ride away is, literally, a whole other world that she has barely touched, but that still carries on even now that she has left.

Time and distance are the strange bedfellows of travel. Time is intangible, yet we experience it constantly and see the effects around us. Distance is, arguably, not actually tangible, but we can see it at times and then appreciate it quite easily when we get in a car and drive for hours and hours – and see the road we travel unwinding before us, or in the rearview mirror. If, of course, we travel by plane, it is not always so easy to actually ‘see’ the distance, but we can appreciate it slightly differently.

All of this is, of course, something that we experience on a literal journey between two places.

Then, of course, there are the less literal journeys we undertake: like this cancer thing. Like losing Mum and working through the pain. Like watching those around me have to go through what has happened in the last year.

Many of these journeys are not what we would choose. It is not always easy to understand them as taking us from one place to another except in some kind of retrospective moments. That is not always possible too, of course, as there is very often no tangible endpoint for the more emotional experiences we may have to face, especially in the longer term.

Take this cancer thing, for example, as a journey: it’s pretty easy to find a beginning point, although the actual moment may vary slightly (When the lump was found; During the mammogram; When the biopsy was done; When the diagnosis was made, or I found out about it…). The end point, though, is a completely different story.

When will my cancer journey end?

Perhaps never. This is, after all, something that will haunt me forever. Perhaps it ended after the chemo, or, at least, a few weeks afterwards, when the main side-effects wore off.  There are many possible end points for the journey.

Then again, does it need to have an end? Is every journey necessarily so neatly and clearly defined?

Also, what happens if the journey has many ‘sub-journeys’ within it? If there is no clean end point because there are so many new beginning points? What then?

Maybe that’s why this cancer thing is not quite so easily defined as a journey – simply because it has so many aspects, so many chapters, so many sub-journeys. It’s not like driving from East London to home. It’s not so easily defined.

It is definitely not as easily travelled but, in its own way, it is something to be treasured. As a journey so far, this cancer thing has taken me to many places I have never been before, some I wish I had not had to go to and others that I will truly treasure.

It’s part of me.

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