Perspective is Everything

I’m reading Anticancer by Dr David Servan-Schreiber again. I found the following section quite profound. Since I’ve started employing this mindset, things have dramatically changed in the way my days (and evenings/nights even!) unfold. The dark thoughts I sometimes have (as I guess most of us do at times) still arise, but now I turn them around to see all angles, regard them anew so that they don’t take root.

Maybe this excerpt will hold some meaning for you too.

Eyes Opened
Cancer sometimes cures this strange nearsightedness, this dance of hesitations. By exposing life’s brevity, a diagnosis of cancer can restore life’s true flavour. A few weeks after my diagnosis, I had the odd feeling a veil had been lifted that until then had dimmed my sight. One Sunday afternoon, in the small sunny room of our tiny house, I was looking at Anna. Focused and peaceful, she was sitting on the floor near the coffee table, trying her hand at translating French poems into English. For the first time, I saw her as she was, without wondering whether I should prefer someone else. I simply saw the lock of hair that slipped gracefully forward when she leaned her head on her book, the delicacy of her fingers gently grasping the pen. I was surprised that I had never noticed how touching the slightest contractions of her jaw could be when she had trouble finding the word she was looking for. I suddenly saw her as herself, apart from my questions and doubts. Her presence became incredibly moving. Simply being allowed to witness that moment came to me as an immense privilege. Why hadn’t I seen her that way before?

In his book on the transforming power of approaching death, Irvin Yalom an eminent psychiatrist at Standford University, quotes a letter written by a senator in the early sixties, shortly after he had been told he had a very serious cancer.

“A change came over me which I believe is irreversible. Questions of prestige, of political success, of financial status, became all at once unimportant. In those first hours when I realized I had cancer, I had never thought of my seat in the Senate, of my bank account, or of the destiny of the free world. My wife and I have not had a quarrel since my illness was diagnosed. I used to scold he about squeezing the toothpaste from the top instead of the bottom, about not catering sufficiently to my fussy appetite, about making up guest lists without consulting me, about spending too much on clothes. Now I am either unaware of such matters, or they seem irrelevant…

In their stead has come a new appreciation of things I once took for granted – eating lunch with a friend, scratching Muffet’s ears and listening to her purr, the company of my wife, or reading a book or magazine in the quiet cone of my bed lamp at night. For the first time I think I am actually savoring life. I shudder when I remember all the occasions that I spoiled myself – even when I was in the best of health – by false pride, synthetic values and fancied slights.”

Thus the approach of death can sometimes lead to a kind of liberation. In it’s shadow, life suddenly takes on an intensity resonance and savour we may never have known before. Of course, when the time comes, we feel the despair of leaving life behind, much as we would in saying farewell to someone we loved, knowing we would never see them again. Most of us dread that sadness, But in the end, wouldn’t it be worse to leave without having tasted of life’s full flavour? Wouldn’t it be far worse to have no reason to be sad at that moment of parting.

From:

The Value of Rejection

So, recently again, I was made aware of the sting of fundamental rejection.

However, the older I become, I more often also see the value of it. With every instance, I become increasingly resigned to it as a fact of life, in particular modern life. But I also see it as an opportunity to grow. To become a bit more comfortable in my own skin, and to keep up the search for those who will in fact not turn away. Who will stick around.

Because once someone accepts you warts and all, that is where the good stuff lies. Where the growth begins. Few and far between are the good things that happen in a comfort zone. Those who love and accept you will not allow you to wallow there, but will see your potential, even more so than you. They’ll be around for what they can give, and for what you can give. Not for what they can take.

So, if someone rejects you, see it, but see it for what it truly is. Change. Change for the better.

This song by Green Day, 21 Guns, sums it up somewhat.

One, 21 Guns
Lay down your arms
Give up the fight
One, 21 Guns
Throw up your arms into the sky
You and I…

A Note About Essence

I am not sure when exactly I wrote this, but it was about two or three years ago. It got lost in all the papers I shoved into a box at some stage (from desk to pile on desk to box in bookcase, as it were) and I rediscovered it the other day while gutting said box.

It was obviously directed at myself, but I think that it may be of use to others. I certainly feel the challenge and a sense of urgency. Continue reading

Saving Water 201: When Nature Calls

The water situation in the Cape is still spectacularly dire. If you want to read up about it, here are some articles from City of Cape Town, eNCA and News24 to get you up to speed, and my previous blog post about the basics of saving water.

So, ever the problem-solver, I’ve been wondering how I could step up my game. This is the part where the super-squeamish among you need to close the browser and step away from the screen. Not that I think what I’m about to divulge is unhygienic, but I know the preconceived ideas out there. I know that what I am about to tell is going to gross a few people out because it already has. That said, some people have thought quite the opposite, so I hope to win a few people over because I seldom do things of this nature without good reason.

Continue reading