This is my tenth post! I get a little buzzer from WordPress (the host site) about it, which is very exciting. Right from the beginning of the blog, I have always known Post 10 would be special – the explanation of the title and another little life message similar to my first post.
But first, a little mental image of my Mum: she’s beautiful, inside and out. She’s got pale skin and smiley eyes and short curly brown hair. Her judgement, kindness and wisdom are never-ending and her hugs are the best ever! She’s called Jessie and she loves me almost as much as I love her. It must be said that she also can be strict and unreasonable, and by no means do we get along all the time. But I admit I can be a very grumpy teenager too, and nobody’s perfect! 🙂
Anyway, last month, she was diagnosed with a chronic illness called Multiple Sclerosis. It’s an auto-immune disease affecting around 100,000 people in the UK, including my Mum.
Understandably, it was quite a shock to find out. Suddenly it seemed all we could talk about were medicines and different therapies, symptoms and causes. One of the aspects of Mum’s type of MS is the uncertainty; one never knows where or when the next attack will happen.
There are a few medicines available, with varying degrees of effectiveness. Last week, Mum found out which medication she will be on, and it will hopefully reduce the relapses. So we hope now that MS will affect her and her life very little, and the image brought to your mind on reading about the illness, of an invalid in a wheelchair perhaps, will hopefully not be applicable to her at all.
My family is a really tight unit, and I say (write!) that with a huge amount of pride. Yes, this has shaken us, but it hasn’t broken us by any means. In fact, in a way it’s brought us together, through the long conversations we’ve had about it. During one such conversation, my Dad put the uncertainty of the illness in a clever and thought provoking way. He said:
“It’s just like turning on the TV and the weather reporter saying ‘It’s going to rain tomorrow’. Just that, and nothing more. ‘It’s going to rain tomorrow.”
We know it’s going to rain at some point tomorrow. However, we do not know whether we’ll experience light showers or a torrential storm. We don’t know when it will rain; early morning, afternoon or evening and through the night. It may start patchy, getting worse throughout the day. It may pour for five minutes and then stop. There might be a storm at lunchtime, which eases off as the afternoon goes on.
A really good friend and I took this simile further. The forecast makes no mention of when the sun will shine. Isn’t rain essential for rainbows, the prettiest natural occurrences ever?
Whatever the weather, umbrellas and raincoats are always available. That’s assuming we even have the mindset that rain is bad or annoying. Rain is awesome! It’s a miracle in the desert. It’s always ‘good weather for ducks’. Peppa Pig’s muddy puddles wouldn’t exist without it. And Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid have it right – all that’s needed is a bit of ‘Singing in the Rain’.
2015 has been a bit of a ‘growing-up’ year for me. My grandfather died in April, after a horrendous two months of quick physical decline in hospital. And what with Mummy and all; I’ve started to find a mental philosophy which has helped me a lot, and that I’d like to share with you.
It can best be summed up by an extract from the transcript of Dennis Potter’s last interview. He was a television dramatist, screenwriter and journalist, and the interview was conducted after he’d found out he had terminal cancer, with one or two months left to live.
We all, we’re the one animal that knows that we’re going to die, and yet we carry on paying our mortgages, doing our jobs, moving about, behaving as though there’s eternity in a sense. And we forget or tend to forget that life can only be defined in the present tense; it is is, and it is now only. I mean, as much as we would like to call back yesterday and indeed yearn to, and ache to sometimes, we can’t. It’s in us, but we can’t actually; it’s not there in front of us. However predictable tomorrow is, and unfortunately for most people, most of the time, it’s too predictable, they’re locked into whatever situation they’re locked into … Even so, no matter how predictable it is, there’s the element of the unpredictable, of the you don’t know. The only thing you know for sure is the present tense, and that nowness becomes so vivid that, almost in a perverse sort of way, I’m almost serene. You know, I can celebrate life.
Below my window in Ross, when I’m working in Ross, for example, there at this season, the blossom is out in full now, there in the west early. It’s a plum tree, it looks like apple blossom but it’s white, and looking at it, instead of saying “Oh that’s nice blossom” … last week looking at it through the window when I’m writing, I see it is the whitest, frothiest, blossomest blossom that there ever could be, and I can see it. Things are both more trivial than they ever were, and more important than they ever were, and the difference between the trivial and the important doesn’t seem to matter. But the nowness of everything is absolutely wondrous, and if people could see that, you know. There’s no way of telling you; you have to experience it, but the glory of it, if you like, the comfort of it, the reassurance … not that I’m interested in reassuring people – bugger that. The fact is, if you see the present tense, boy do you see it! And boy can you celebrate it.
I cannot write it better than that. But I challenge you to notice the beauty in our world. No matter where you are, what you are doing, how you are feeling; the unadulterated joy of a fleeting smile or a blue sky is the most wonderful thing on earth.
Why wait for a shocking reminder of how fragile life is to start singing in the rain?