Friday, 12 March 2010

You Never Know...

I had a phone call from an ex-colleague, now retired. He had some sad news - a colleague, younger than us both, has suddenly died.

Whilst I was plodding along as a Social Worker, she was ascending the promotion and responsibility ladder, and reached some dizzy heights. She was, however, an out and out workaholic, with a very tight focus. Goes to show, with ME and all, maybe I'm the lucky one. There are points to ponder, wherever you look. She had her vision, I have mine. Mr Yeats states my position better than I could:


By William Butler Yeats

I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree,
And a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made;
Nine bean rows will I have there, a hive for the honeybee,
And live alone in the bee-loud glade.

And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping slow,
Dropping from the veils of the morning to where the cricket sings;
There midnight's all a-glimmer, and noon a purple glow,
And evening full of the linnet's wings.

I will arise and go now, for always night and day
I hear lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore;
While I stand on the roadway, or on the pavements gray,
I hear it in the deep heart's core.


  1. What a coincidence. I just ran unto an old work colleague at the library on Wednesday (we worked together 15 years ago), and she told me that two of our old colleagues have died, one of cancer and one of some sort of chronic illness that I didn't realize she had. It does make you think, doesn't it?

    I love the poem - I want to live in that quiet house on the lake!!


  2. Old WB had a way with words, didn't he?

    I think the motto is to moan less and live more - that's what I hope to do. It's not always easy though....

  3. hahaha I LOVE that, moan less and live more!! It's really true! My partner died unexpectedly 9 years ago and even when life totally sucks I still try to remind myself that I am still here and I need to make the best of whatever today has to offer ...

    Please feel free to check out my blog if you like -

    Cheers :)

  4. Hi Richard. I just found your blog through a comment you left on Chris Mooney's blog. I live in California and have been sick since 2001 after I failed to recover from a viral infection. Diagnosis: CFS. I had to give up my beloved career as a law professor. But your post has me thinking: How do I know that had I been able to work the past nine years, I'd be happier than I am now? I tend to assume I would be but, in truth, there are some advantages to being housebound and often bedbound: I don't answer to an alarm clock; I have the perfect excuse for not attending gatherings that I'd only be going to out of obligation; I can "read" for pleasure all I want (read in quotations because I listen to audiobooks); I don't have to deal with conflicts at work.

    Well, the list could go on. I'm thinking it's a good idea for us sometimes to reflect on the plusses to this unexpected direction our lives have taken.

    Nice to meet you.

  5. "All shall be well,

    and all shall be well,

    and all manner of things shall be well."

    St Julian of Norwich.

    I'm not a conventionally religious person, but I think that sainted anchoress hits the nail on the head here - what's the point of any other assumption - it'll only only make you miserable wondering about the "what ifs" and the the "maybes".

    This yucky illness has cost me a job, my house, and a shedfull of money, but I still have a family around me, a roof over my head and bread on the table. I live in a country that has a decent infrastructure of provision for the unwell, although I can and do criticise many aspects of it. I'm not in Haiti or a warzone, and the prospects of drought are remote in Scotland.

    Let us remember Horace. Carpe Diem

  6. Hi, Toni. Thank you for the kind words. I'm looking forward to a look at your book. My imperfect grasp of Buddhism has been a great benefit to me in my illness, and has probably kept me sane in the darker moments.

    "If you really want freedom, happiness will arise
    From happiness will come rapture
    When your mind is enraptured, your body is tranquil
    When your body is tranquil you will know bliss
    Because you are blissful, your mind will concentrate easily
    Being concentrated, you will see things as they really are
    In so seeing, you will become aware that life is a miracle
    Being so aware you will lose all your attachments
    As you cease grasping, so you will be freed.

    Digha Nikaya

  7. Hi, Lee - I'm following your blog. It's good to know that there are people out there who know what I'm talking about.

  8. Whilst I was typing in the words from Digha Nikaya, a sense of familiarity swept over me, and I realised I was humming The Who's "I'm Free" under my breath. It's a mazing how a simple song with a simple lyric can put things in a nutshell. Best of all, it comes from Tommy , the rock opera with a disabled hero:

    I'M FREE-I'm free,
    And freedom tastes of reality,
    I'm free-I'm free,
    AN' I'm waiting for you to follow me.

    If I told you what it takes
    to reach the highest high,
    You'd laugh and say 'nothing's that simple'
    But you've been told many times before
    Messiahs pointed to the door
    And no one had the guts to leave the temple!

    I'm free-I'm free
    And freedom tastes of reality

    I'm free-I'm free
    And I'm waiting for you to follow me.

  9. I love that verse from the Digha Nikaya (not to mention those great lyrics from The Who). Yes, the key to liberation in Buddhism is to cease grasping. It's easier said than done (at least for me!) but sometimes I can get just a taste of the freedom that comes with non-attachment and that keeps me walkin' the Buddhist path!