Jane Ballot

Being me in the world

Stories to Tell

Everybody has at least one story to tell. I suppose the thing is when you tell it, to whom and how.

A friend of mine has written his memoirs (at least, the first part thereof, I hope, as he is in his 50s and there will be more to come), which I am busy editing. It’s his story that he has chosen to tell his way.

Last night, we went to see the play Epstein, which is tells the story of Brian Epstein, the “man who made the Beatles” told by a playwright. It is such a well-written play and was brilliantly acted. What you come away with, though, is not the story of a clever man with wonderful insight into music, the public and what will sell, but the last impressions of a sad and lonely man who has lost any direction, clings to drugs and drink for succour and is, in the end, a remarkably pathetic and sympathetic character – told by a fictitious ‘boy’, who is the opposite of the impression he gives and has wonderful empathy and wants, simply, to understand the man.

I think that the life of a story and what we take away from it depends so much on the individual. We respond to what we need to at the time and, perhaps, add just a little to our own stories.

If I stand within my own ‘cancer story’, I have sometimes seen it as a rather ‘simple’ story in relation to those of others, because I did not have a long struggle and my treatment was relatively short. Then I think through what I actually experienced and, in fact, still do; and, thanks to what others say, I am able to stand without of it for a time.

Then I know that no cancer story is a simple one. Everyone who faces the disease/condition in any form has their own battle and not one of them is easy.

One of the things that having cancer does is to make you aware of your own mortality, even in vague, sometimes fleeing, terms and it speaks to us on a different level. The awareness seems to manifest in such diverse ways as to make some people withdraw into themselves, while others literally go rushing of on cruises and other exotic trips around the world.

Each of us is individual. Each of us makes sense of things in our own way.

Each of us has our own, unique, story. Hopefully the ones that are told may touch someone in even a small way and make their lives richer for it.


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