My first holiday abroad since being so ill has had an interesting effect on body, mind and soul. I’ve always loved the heat, my body relaxes and I sleep deeply. This year there’s an additional, unexpected bonus: I’m off the painkillers. My joints are fine in the heat and I don’t need coaxing to get out of bed. The heat also means I’m happy to get up much earlier and take advantage of the relative cool of morning. So although I’m not springing from my bed, nor am I groaning and moaning.
The house I’m staying in is filled with books, hundreds of them. I sleep surrounded by books, the shelves less than a foot away, cocooning me in different narratives. I wake up and my eyes slide along the shelves, picking out old friends and new possibilities.
But the most surprising effect of being away is that I no longer feel split between serious illness and the shock of losing almost everything that previously gave my life meaning. Struggling to reconcile the two, to suck every moment of joy from of the time I have left, while coping with a feeling of meaningless and loss of direction has been the hardest thing to deal with by far.
Somehow on holiday, the two sides come together in a meaningful way. I’m still ill of course, but not in pain. And on holiday the only expectations are how to spend the day: when to eat, sleep, shop, read.
I no longer struggle with the meaning and worth of my life, it’s enough just to be. Whether that can be transposed to the life back home remains to be seen, but I’ve had a glimpse of a life with possibilities, which has gladdened the heart.
And I have new appetite for writing; my current book, which has been put on hold, is now inhabiting my dreams and waking life. I need to reclaim my working space back home, which has become a shrine to the lost possibilities of the old life, so I rarely go in there, as it’s too painful.
I’m sensing a Dr Who regeneration.