Wassail to you

To be truly honest with you I have been a bit apprehensive about New Year’s Eve this year. I knew I felt uneasy about it but I couldn’t quite put my finger on why exactly. Now obviously it was probably something to do with cancer. Almost my entire existence now has something to do with cancer. What though, I wasn’t quite sure. I have spent today mainly lounging about and being looked after by my lovely wife who made me a smoothie and a soft boiled egg; it’s important not to underestimate the joy that can be found in a perfectly cooked soft boiled egg. Then my friend Janet came over. It’s her birthday tomorrow so we made plans for that and she told us all about her Christmas.

Janet is the jolly witch. She is almost always positive and is usually practising some kind of approach or technique or some such that adds to general health and well being. Today Janet told us about the 4 immeasurables. I’m loving ’em already.

The 4 immeasurables are love, compassion, equanimity and joy. It’s a Buddhist thing and basically is about wanting others to be happy, being compassionate to others, seeing things from other people’s perspectives and not judging them and celebrating the joys of others. They are immeasurables because they can be practiced infinitely. There is no limit to how much you can love someone or be compassionate, patient or joyful. Sometimes these things are not easy but they can always be done, we just have to choose to. The ‘choosing to’ brings me back to my apprehension over New Year’s Eve.


At first I thought that I was worried that being wished a Happy New Year would be a futile and hollow experience. How can I possibly have a happy new year? I will be spending the first half of it having chemotherapy and the rest undergoing and recovering from surgery, radiation therapy, possibly more chemo. What is certain is that there will be no certainty. Not this year. Most likely not for anymore of my years. Certainty is a privilege of the healthy and even then it isn’t really that certain, you just don’t know that it’s not.

When we wish each other a happy new year tonight the truth is that is exactly what we do…we wish. It’s blind faith and hope that anyone of us will make it through the year without injury, illness or tragedy. Chances are there will be a little bit of that for all of us in some way. There will also be wonderful acts of love, deep joys and great achievements for all of us. The key is choosing to spot them. Choosing to celebrate all the joys and the wonders that come our way rather than focussing of the negative.

This isn’t my great revelation for today. It’s hardly a new concept. Reflecting on this however led me to understand what I was scared of tonight.

Tonight I will not be filled with dread and sadness if you wish me a happy new year. I might be a little touched by dread and sadness if you don’t. My greatest New Year’s Eve fear is that out of sensitivity, sympathy or just not wanting to put your foot in it you won’t wish me a happy new year at all. That instead you’ll smile sadly and hug me and tell me that you’re rooting for me. That instead you’ll tell me that I can beat this and that you’re there whenever I need you. Of course these sentiments are lovely and well meaning and they come from a place of love and that is wonderful. I do truly appreciate them.

I still want to be wished a happy new year though. Despite all the potential side effects and the pain and the possibility of treatment not being as effective as we hope, there just has to be, there absolutely will be, some really really good stuff in 2014 too.

Cancer is a thieving little bastard that steals your confidence, your time and your sense of self. I am buggered if I am going to let the blighter steal all my joys as well. You can’t have it cancer, I am going to find all the joys there are to find in 2014. Every one of them. And as we know, joy can be immeasurable as long as we choose it to be.

“Love and joy come to you and to you a wassail too

God bless you and send you a Happy New Year”

7 thoughts on “Wassail to you

  1. Uncertainty is something we all live with, yours has changed. Instead of living with the uncertainty that we all live with, of wishing for a new year to be better than the last, you now have the uncertainty of your impending treatment. None of us can truly say that we know what is around the corner for us, no matter how we plan and organise. Some things that life throws at us are simply out of our control. That has always scared me. Since a small child I have felt as if all our lives are lived balanced on the edge of a precipice, with only the smallest of nudges to send us crashing to oblivion of one sort or another. Some people will embrace the impending oblivion and the change that it represents, others can stand frozen for fear of falling. The truth is we all must fall at some point, and we must also suffer watching others we love fall. It is all about what we can learn about ourselves and those around us that from these falls.

    You have an opportunity now to look critically at what it is in your life that matters to you. Not the stuff that the media and society says you need to have to be happy. You probably have a good idea of what is and isn’t important in life now. Things worth worrying about and things that can get in the queue!!

    That is what I tried to take from my cancer experiences. When we were told that my Mum had weeks to live rather than months and years we coped. Your view changes to reflect the new position you have been put in. She said to me that for so long she had lived with uncertainty of her treatments and now that had gone, now she knew how much time she had left. For her it was a source of massive relief and a sense that a weight had been lifted from her. One less thing to worry about.

    Lets not kid ourselves, you will have a tough new year, but it will get better and this time next year you will be different for sure, but better for it. Not just physically either. So here’s to a successful treatment, I won’t say easy because nothing worth having is easy, right?
    And here’s to remission for 2014.
    Happy New Year !!


  2. Happy New Year Ashley!

    And don’t think this defines you, like said in your ‘who am I?’ post. We all know you are far too eccentric to be defined by one thing alone!


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