cartesian duelling

The Great Day of His Wrath 1851-3 by John Martin 1789-1854

where do we come from? what are we? where are we going?

paul gauguin

when you’ve lived with chronic illness for many years, the worst sorts of bad patches are the inexplicable ones.

like when folk around you have proper colds, with blocked noses and sneezing and throaty voices. and you kind of feel like you probably have the same virus, in that you are twice as weak as usual, and spend even more ridiculous lengths of days in bed. but what you don’t have are any tangible symptoms. so you go around in circles searching for some sort of evidence, proof – and most of all craving a guarantee that this won’t go on forever – oh, for the simple relief of a clearly defined, briefly endured malady with a beginning, middle, and end!

last year was my illest year in a long time, and there were periods i only just about scraped through, thanks to the support of the thin man and a small number of other special people. when your body is no kind of ally or home to your spirit, it becomes crucial to seek sanctuary elsewhere. my most treasured place of comfort is the company of close friends. for a while i can lose myself in conversation and reflection there – at those times i am as alive and connected as everyone else – i am simply another human being, questing for meaning and understanding, warmed through by common ground.

very young people offer a particularly pure form of respite from existential suffering. they inhabit each moment entirely, draining every last drop of fun and joy from the most basic activities. if only we older humans knew how to return to that perfect unselfconscious state – if only we could reside there!

whatever one’s circumstances, balance and flow are essential ingredients for peace of mind. the more challenging our individual situation, the more work needs to go into maintaining this balance and flow. at least, that is how it is for me.

a few days ago, the slightly better energy i’d enjoyed for a few weeks deserted me, and right now i am floundering. in the dark. at the edge of reason. my sense of self is being diluted, and full scale erosion threatens. i feel like i am attempting to ward off a major flood with the pathetic resources of my ten numb, swollen, sweaty fingers and thumbs, trying to force water back up a hill.

how not to catastrophise? how to keep faith that the already severely limited abilities i possess won’t disintegrate further? everything is falling away from me, and simultaneously crashing in over my head. slipping and sliding, stepping stones moving out of place. this is a crisis of spirit, a personal emergency. when i am this lost and afraid, this short on belief in my emotional strength, the only thing i know how to do is put pen to paper, and pray for the words to carry me through the stormy waters and back to dry land.

and maybe this evening all i can say is; i am writing, therefore i am.

4 thoughts on “cartesian duelling

  1. It was something of a relief to see that you get to moderate your comments. As you can probably see, I don’t normally do ‘serious’ on the internet.
    Your entire blog can be summed up in three words: woe is me.
    But you don’t get points for suffering.
    I believe it is important to understand that suffering in no way makes you special.
    The main reason I don’t do serious on the internet is because, if I tried, I’d just go on and on.
    So I’ll stop trying here, and wish you good night.
    God Bless you, Caras. (No offence).


    • Don’t really get this comment, I can’t see how the writer is claiming to be special on account of being ill or of suffering. I’m a regular reader and I find her pieces completely without excess, to an unusual extent I would say. Sure, they evoke her suffering, but they don’t use it to perform any function. The fact that suffering is a topic at all is not grounds for objection, it misses the point that writing is a form of sharing between humans, and it shouldn’t need pointing out that the internet is a way for people with limited mobility to share with more people than they can see. I find the entry very moving and am reminded of my own blessings.


  2. I’ll try rephrasing the comment: ‘It is important to understand that everyone suffers.’
    In other words, suffering is a given. The only real question is what are you prepared to do about it?
    No, don’t tell me… WRITE!!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I completely get it. It’s the perfect prison, punctuated my fleeting moments of normalcy that only serve to remind us of how much we’ve lost.
    Saudade: My new favourite word. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

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