Spoon by Spoon: why we must feed ourselves with wisdom
Human beings are poorly named. We are more comfortable “doing” than “being”. We rush from place to place, rarely stopping to smell the roses. When we ask each other “how are you?” we love to say, “oh you know, just really busy.” American author Annie Dillard once said, “How we spend our days, is of course, how we spend our lives.” And that busyness isn’t always such a good thing.
Nowadays so much of our time is spent at work — over 90,000 hours during our lives. And if work isn’t exactly joyous then we can end up as rather lost and sorry souls.
This is where I found myself at the beginning of 2016. I was really quite unhappy at work, uncomfortable with the direction it was going. I didn’t fit in so I had to pretend. I was on stage, mask on, but without a script. I wasn’t sure what my character was supposed to say. And the faster we went the more we got rewarded. Rushing from meeting to meeting, from project to project — being busy, they said, was good. But it felt as though I was endlessly doing, rather than being and I didn’t have the energy or the know-how to change.
Then on the 21st March, 2016, my husband was diagnosed with incurable cancer. Really? Incurable cancer at 44? He’d only gone to see the doctor with dizziness. We stared dumbfounded at each other and back at the impassive looking consultant. When at last we stumbled out onto the streets we wandered around for hours, unable to process what had happened. Life really was short. Why had no one ever mentioned this before?
The next few months were filled with endless rounds of chemotherapy, a stem cell transplant and, when that didn’t work, radiotherapy until his lovely blond hair fell out, slowly, in uneven chunks, all over the pillow. Monthly blood tests followed and trips to the consultant: was he better? The same? Worse? Every trip delivered a mini-shock and a question — how long has he got left to live? Will this journey be a short jog or a marathon? No one could, or would, tell us. Should we blow all the money on an amazing trip (maybe his last), or should we hoard it all away, in case a cure emerged somewhere on the horizon?