The masks we wear to disguise ourselves..

17th November 2014: Sydney Australia

My eyes lock to a figure walking about fifty meters ahead. Instantly, the figure is identified, and I am able to work out from the leisurely pace that in approximately 20 seconds we would be crossing paths. Immediately, my first reaction is to stall, dropping back the pace to an almost creeping speed or looking at my surroundings to see if there is anything of interest to spend a few minutes focusing upon. Unfortunately, not many options are available on the daily walk from the beach with just my surfboard, so bending down to tie up my shoes is out of the question. Also, the unnecessary phone call to someone is unable to be made. I estimate the change of pace only lasted at most ten steps before my escape had to be aborted. So, off I went, again taking the walk at normal pace and making contact right on about 50 metres.

Why the thoughts of avoidance? Well, it’s simple, I knew from the very moment of working out the basic calculations of meeting the person at that time would eventuate in a line of questioning, consisting of: so how are you, you still taking chemo, good you still got your hair, etc. I can understand the questions are coming from both a caring and friendly place, and is probably the reason for deciding to opt with the neighbourly decision of remaining at such a pace to receive the bundle of expected questions. I also felt the conversation pushed me to act in a way aligned with my outlook on life, opposed to advocating the advantages of living in a friendly community yet actively behaving in such an opposing manner.

I am not sure if it was just the expected questions or whether thoughts of avoidance derived from the need to falsely put on a mask disguising my actual feelings, however, I think it is fairly accurate in hypothesising that the comments are coming from a good place, and the observation of me walking home from a surf would also provide an indication of me feeling well. I ponder the social laws governing these situations and how it would be scaled should a true portrayal of my feelings and thought process be provided? Maybe it is just me, and I should have just honestly explained that generally I am feeling very positive, however, I am actually not doing so well today. I also reflect on whether my resistance to honesty results from the desire of not wanting to burden others with my bouts of misery or just a plain discomfort in expressing my feelings? Alternatively, it could be the attempt to uphold a strong, positive and energetic outward showing of my ability at moving on from the Cancer. A strategy combatting the common perceived narrative about being a person who had or has Cancer, i.e. that poor guy, how sad it is to hear the news about him/her.

On all accounts, I think the right decision was made. My reasoning includes the fact and privilege of living in a community where people bump into each other to talk are some of the foundations of a cohesive and caring society. Finally, the choice of not delving into detail about how I was actually feeling was the correct decision. I believe there are certain people in our lives to share these certain feelings with, and a little less detailed story is more appropriate for others. Therefore, in summing up the points, it seems I may need to shop for some more masks for future days 🙂

Cancer and rigidity

16th November 2014: Sydney, Australia

The topic of rigidity is interesting. Often, I make comments about living a fairly rigid life, and in some ways it seems it is used to justify certain decisions made. From an outside perspective, a degree of rigidity in my life would seem like an essential component, should focus solely be placed on the expected prognosis for people who had the Cancer I had. I firmly don’t believe I will fall into this category, hence the limited space given to this subject matter in previous entries, however, I am curious as to whether a positive or negative correlation exists between placing greater emphasis on the expected prognosis for the many others in my situation.

Firstly, greater emphasis could help a motivation to remain rigid on the chosen lifestyle. On the other hand, it could also act as a self-fulfilling prophecy, maintaining a narrative of worry, and consequently write the very script for the possibility of death to be an awaiting future prospect. Alternatively, a view I feel a lot of people may have is that both points above is garbage, and regardless of whether the narrative I create for myself is about life and positivity or death and fear, ultimately it has little influence on whether the Cancer decides to rears it’s mutating and repulsive figure again!

Only time will provide answers for how much attention I place on rigidity in the future, and if the words ‘searching for explanations but simply feel unwell’ were a fleeting thought or an actual reflection of my views about the belief I have in the power of the created narrative that will keep me well, even if it involves unexamined side-effects.