The private message responses to yesterday’s missive have been beautiful and deeply thought provoking, In particular since touching on issues around death and the murkier depths of coping with a degenerative disease inevitably touches close to other’s ‘home’. They got me thinking again about why I am writing this (I’m a fairly private person, not usually madly enamoured of confessional culture). Especially as in writing it I am may have caused some concern or worry or raised some personal issues for others. 

It would be a bit trite to say that writing this has been therapy for me, I don’t think it’s anything as simple as that. But for so long my writing voice has been lost and this recent experience (perhaps the steroids, I don’t know) seems to have set something free in that bit of me again. For a long time I wrote an anonymous blog – or rather pseudonymous, I invented a rather charming lady adventurer to voice my thoughts – and enjoyed enormously the fun of writing that and the wonderful exchanges my doppelganger’s followers drew me into. Doing it scratched many itches for me: the desire to articulate my feelings, the desire to write fiction, the desire to crack awful jokes, and the desire to talk about my great passion – opera. But after a rather rough period a couple of years ago, when my fatigue reached new depths, I experienced a loss of my inner voice. Hard to explain, but very frightening and unsettling, The constant stream of chatter most of us (I think?!) have as our life’s companion, disappeared. Writing without an inner voice is extremely difficult and ultimately became quite distressing.

But she’s back. A little hesitant and uncertain, like a new born foal trying to find her legs. Suddenly I wanted to write again and I reached out to the nearest vehicle without fully understanding why. It had to be something like here because for me writing is a way of having conversations, not a way of archiving my experiences. In fact I very rarely read anything I have written again, it’s the musing on what I want to say, what I have said, and what others have responded that gives me what I need. Which is help in working this out, in figuring out how to live, not just survive, with this, What I do know, having watched rather too may people I love die in recent years, is that hiding away from death, dying, and disease causes more suffering that it alleviates. Writing yesterday allowed me to think, and even feel, differently about the emotions and thoughts that were in danger of swamping me. It gave me a place to focus all of that, and in the act of writing, the time to attend more fully than otherwise to what were frightening but ultimately manageable experiences. This feels like a good enough way right now to do that.

I went to sleep last night remembering swimming in the Gulf of Spezia over 25 years ago. I relived the feeling of lying on the rocks at Monterosso, one of the Cinque Terra. I remembered watching all the local guys (no women) scrambling up the cliffs there and diving into the sea. I really wanted to do it but I was a bit scared. Then I saw an ancient old man scramble up and dive. Inspired, I followed suit. I climbed, turned and realised I was higher than I had ever dived before. I looked at the sea and felt the energy of the thousands of divers across the centuries who had done exactly the same thing, and I nailed that dive better than any I ever made before or since. I’m back on the rocks today and the sun is shining again.