On giving the finger to life’s vicissitudes

Last night was the most difficult yet for us; I felt feverish, disconnected, angry, scared and helpless. A month ago I was fit, active and working hard, now my body is getting increasingly decrepit, I’m tired, I’ve had an infuser strapped to me for 6 days pumping toxins into me, I’ve got the prospect of 2 more months of increasing pain, discomfort, any number of ‘side effects’ and will not start recovering until about mid-January. Then will have to wait until mid-February for results.

It’s made worse because it upsets Kate even more, she is brilliant and wants to do more but she can’t. Keep positive is the mantra we often hear, advise others, tell ourselves and on the surface seems eminently sensible. I’ve long used and advocated the ‘positive approach’ in my teaching but in reflective times I’ve realised that it’s too simplistic, that it denies other stuff (would that be the ying or the yang Jo?). It also, somewhat dangerously, puts the onus on the individual to ‘be positive’ and therefore depress the negative. Trouble is there is no positive without negative. The onus is compounded and conflated with ‘the battle’, we have to be positive otherwise we are the simple corollary of being negative, and if we’re negative we’ll lose the battle and it will be our fault because we’re negative.

When we are ‘positive’, putting on our brave face, giving the finger to life’s vicissitudes there is an element of performing for the audience. Part of the reason we do it is because we know we’ll get a ‘positive response’ from others, the old positive feedback loop, good old behaviourism. We also know at some level that it’s easier for others to deal with because we know it’s hard dealing with pain, misery and death.

Maybe Russell Brand is an MI5 stooge.

Outside it’s lovely and sunny, I want to go for a walk but have to wait in for a nurse to disconnect my infuser and redress the PICC line. They are unable, or perhaps unwilling, to give me any idea of what part of the day they might arrive. I should be grateful, at least I can see the blue sky and it’s not just darkness.

Have this very moment thought, actually this is not true as the thought happened a very short while ago and it took time to process and commit to writing, I am going to give you lucky folk one item from my manifesto for improving the common good.

  1. Abolish private schools.

So, from now on I’ll add one a day and whenever this bleedin’ blog finishes I’ll look back and think………………

Keep on keeping on, love Duncan.


4 thoughts on “On giving the finger to life’s vicissitudes

  1. Been engrossed in the moment with 9 year old grandson – good for quieting impotent worry, although I often stop and worry that 6 days have gone without me ‘thinking/analysing’ … go figure…

    This =ve -ve stuff is key – those aligning with buddhist philosophy (no, its not a religion) insist that key to happiness is to remove all craving and aversion – this you probably know. Meaning taking the middle ground… sitting on the fence… trying to recognise that the stranger in syria’s life is as valuable as my son’s… not your natural habitat i think, not any of ours, but worth exploring…. viz this fascinating story which may resonate with your sporting self, even though it talks of aggressive approach at the beginning – but keep reading, though it probably will make you cry.. did me.

    Re your question above, usually yin is classed as darkness, negativity, fear etc, but as before see the light in the dark. This is all work, not easy, and not as hard (because we can choose whether or not to do it) as the physical shit you are going through and kate’s struggles. But having this capacity as humans, surely we would be mad to waste the chance to explore those parts of the mind that are unused by this year’s fleeting crises. Although those too are our responsibility – o the joys and trials of this life.
    I read your blog compulsively, but have to stop doing so before bed as then I sleep not, head full of both ideas and echoes of pain… totally empathise with your self-focussed worries, but you are helping us which hopefully will help you – so often the roles of close friends and family is agonising impotence, but through this we can respond and offer you titbits to replace the bottles we used to bring, and you can thank us and sample them as and when you can, thus the virtuous circle flows.
    ..with all love to Katy too x


  2. Thank you Jo for those oh so thoughtful thoughts, will read the story. I like the chocolates. You’re a little wrong with my stranger thinking and awareness, for example i have railed against ‘stranger danger’ for many years as a dangerous concept and followed it up by checking thinker’s thoughts about strangers and ‘the other’. One problem with the middle ground is that you can be run over from both directions.
    love Duncan


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