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Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Life Lesson 1

It's a beautiful day and I realise how important it is to have a normal day.

So I happily go off to my meeting with a client. I have a new writing project, a rather complex website and I'm looking forward to it.

At this point I have to confess that I have contrived a bit of 'spin doctoring' on my situation.

The meeting I had today was meant to be held last week but I was in hospital. So I had it rescheduled today, saying only that "I have an illness in the family".

Do they have to know it's me who has the illness? There's no need for my personal details to muddy my professional life is there? Besides, I don't FEEL sick. Not yet.

So when I arrive at my client's premises today, she's keen to know the nature of my
family illness' but before I can answer she's filling in the details herself. She says she knows how hard it is when a family member becomes ill. Her mother in law has a lung condition.

"Oh I know," I empathise. "My father in law has emphysema". And so from there, a half-lie is born as I'm introduced to another member of staff and the story is that apparently, I was at the hospital bed of my father in law last week.

That's the way of storytelling I suppose. The audience fills in the blanks.

Please note: I didn't tell a lie.

The meeting is a success and I feel a little guilty but figure that hey, I'm a copywriter and I don't need my boobs to write do I?

Still, already I have learned that there is often secretiveness around an illness. Since I launched my blog, I have been surprised to hear of many of my friends and acquaintances who have dealt with illness, but I did not know.

Perhaps that's why people have generally been surprised that I'm blogging about this. I take it that it's unusual.

Why is it we are supposed to be ashamed of being sick? Does it mean that if we unbare our vulnerabilities we will feel exposed? Perhaps to judgement? Or exclusion? Or pity?

Personally, as I hope you'll understand, I fear none of these things. We are, all of us, mortal and frankly, we all have our barrow of shit to wheel up the mountain at some stage, don't you think?

I am pondering these thoughts when I arrive home. I have a package from the Breast Cancer Network. Here is what they have sent me so far:

This is a parcel not of things or paper. It is a parcel of compassion and I am truly grateful (that bra is damn comfortable).

And with this parcel comes one of my most important lessons so far:

Becoming ill is in part, a journey in learning about how wonderful people are.

From friends to acquaintances to complete strangers who run organisations like BCNA, to people who fundraise for those organisations, to Governments who fund research, never for one minute doubt that as a human being, you are important to someone.

We live in a world where we are constantly bombarded with negative messages that make you angry or sad or depressed. They are messages about terrorists and dictators and murderers, about crooked politicians and fraudsters and thieves, about the things that go wrong and the things we can't fix and the things we should be angry about.

But even so early in the piece, being ill has taught me that there are a wonder of things that can make you feel happy and even blessed.

As Jean De La Bruyere (the French moralist who died at the age of 51) once said: "Out of difficulties grow miracles."

Indeed, they do,

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