Jane Ballot

Being me in the world

Saturday 18th April

There truly is no place like home.

In amongst the semi-chaos that is the space we occupy and the mundanity of checking if there is enough bread and the demands of making sure everyone is in the right place at the right time (and has to be woken up in order to be so), lies the reassurance of familiarity and the sense of belonging that makes me feel comfortable and contained.

It was a treat to be staying in a 5-star hotel and to be made to feel like an honoured to guest. As demanding as the workshop was, it was also extremely rewarding and, being in Bloem was, also a special kind of break from aspects of my everyday life and work.

A change, they say, is as good as a holiday.

I am off again next week (just how it worked out) to present the same workshop at the QwaQwa campus of UFS. As much as it is exciting to think of working with another group of interesting students and watching them grow as they experience the course, it is also exhausting to think of the demands of the next few days, while I sort out a whole lot of things before then.

There are, I think, often two sides to every situation, flip sides of the same coin. The workshops bring excitement, learning and the opportunity to experience unusual situations (like the 5-star hotel J ), but they also demand my time, take me away from the family briefly and place pressure on me wrt work.

The cancer thing has followed a similar pattern. Almost every aspect of the journey has made demands on me, both physical and emotional and has affected those around me in ways I would rather they had not had to experience. At the same time, though, I don’t think there’s been a moment on this journey that has not also offered insights into myself and others, or moments of contact and joy, or, even, just something to smile about and reassurances of which I may otherwise not have really been aware.

The flip sides of many coins in the same purse.

The whole cancer thing has, of course, two major sides: the horror, stress and upset that the disease/condition brings, as well as the feelings of closeness and the reaffirmation of life that accompany them. Both of these are inescapable. Both are as important in their own way.

It is the good and the bad, the easy and the difficult that characterise any journey. And it is these same opposites that help to shape us as people.

It is also safe spaces, both literal and figurative, that offer us a place and moment to be able to just be ourselves and to let lessons sink in, or, simply to offer the chance to recharge before entering the next fray.

The best place to do that is, of course, at home.





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