I think therefore I am. I don’t think therefore I am not?

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I am aware that I haven’t written anything here for a little while but I wasn’t sure why. I just knew that I didn’t think I had anything to write about. Then I realised; it’s not so much that I didn’t think I had anything to say as I have actually stopped thinking all together, almost entirely. I haven’t had a good long think about anything in weeks. Not going to work means I don’t have anything to plan or organise or analyse. Not working is perhaps a good idea as apart from the infection risk posed by an office full of people I can’t commit to anything as I never know when I am going to be well or ill. Chemo brain is also known to impact on a person’s ability to operate normally. I have heard tales of at least one person who, whilst on chemo, became utterly mystified as to how to drive. So I don’t need to think about work so much and my daughter is now 14 and pretty much capable of looking after herself. Other than reminding her to pick up her ballet tights and hand in reply slips I don’t have to do much thinking and organising for her either.

I suspect that I have stopped thinking because when your life is utterly consumed by cancer, thinking can be a dangerous past time. I have very little to bring to my treatment. I am not a doctor and I know nothing about treating cancer. Perhaps subconsciously I have stopped thinking because if I let myself think too much I end up thinking things that will drive me insane. I think about whether or not the chemo is working. I think about survival statistics and prognosis. I think about what the weird pain in my groin is and if the cancer is spreading. None of these things are actually worth thinking about.

Now, this may not seem particularly alarming. I mean, who wanders about thinking deeply about stuff all the time? Didn’t I read on the internet that the Dalai Lama says that we all think too much and feel too little? There you go, I was probably thinking too much anyway. I haven’t replaced this lack of thinking with feeling though. I don’t really do feeling. It’s not one of my strong points. I feel when I sing but as I am particularly fond of melancholy folk songs I just end up trying to sing through tears which is quite hard. When I was pregnant I cried at ‘Pet Rescue’ but I don’t think that counts.

So, if I am not thinking and I am not feeling what am I doing? I suppose the answer ought to be some kind of mindfulness meditation. The truth? Watching Bones, mainly, and Modern Family. Brain numbing, just engaging or amusing enough to keep me downloading the next episode, but not actually challenging in any way.

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Family and friends are concerned that I am bored. I am more concerned that I am not bored. Gifts of books are piling up in the lounge, untouched. I seem to be getting pretty good at existing. I am quite happy sitting around just looking at stuff. One day last week I spent 2 hours just looking out of the window. I didn’t go anywhere. I didn’t photograph or sketch the view. I wasn’t inspired to write an insightful or rallying article about global warming or cancer or poverty or animals. I just sat on the couch and looked out of the window. Sometimes the leaves of the palm tree in the front garden were bent quite double in the wind. At one point it rained. Several folk walked past and one little boy came into the garden to look at the goldfish in the pond.

There is a school of thought that would suggest that I am depressed. There is another that would suggest I am quite content. I have no idea. I haven’t thought about it.

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88 thoughts on “I think therefore I am. I don’t think therefore I am not?

  1. Your title of this blog is incredibly poignant and accurate. It sounds like you’re having a very spiritual experience. I am no expert but in disidentifying from thoughts spiritual teachings say you have a unique opportunity in getting to know your true self. Do not run from non-thinking. Bask in it.

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  2. Hi, what you are going through is perfectly normal for any human being without cancer. Cheer up. Can you go outside for a small walk? Please do that, if answer is yes. Even if answer is no, there are plenty of things you can do from inside home. Blogging is one, you do it so well. Reading you must do. Additionally, you are right, please try meditation. Observing breath is one. There are many online meditation courses or guidance audios are available. God bless. Be a great blogger.

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  3. I totally understand this. My first bout of cancer took me out of work for 6 months and I felt the same way. I was ok for quite a while doing nothing. After a while I began reading quite a bit, turned the tv off and resumed normal activity. only you know what feels right for you.

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  4. Thanks for writing this. I think you have more to write about than you suspect. I love the title to this post and the name of your blog, too. I’m sorry for your suffering. The best thing I can tell you (not that you asked, but hey, I’m here), is to believe in God and in Heaven. I know for a fact that Heaven is real and everyone who believes in Jesus gets to go there. I’ll pray for you. He’s always listening and He loves us very much. Keep fighting the good fight. God bless you

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  5. Your title reminded me of joke: Rene Descartes walks into his favourite bar. The barman asks “The usual monsieur?” Rene shakes his head and replies “I think not” and disappea

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  6. This post brings back a lot of memories. Through my parent and grandparents I’ve seen the effects of cancer and tumors and the lack of doing. I found myself brought down to hopelessness until I learned to savor ‘nothing’. The fact that nothing could be certain in life but life goes on and sometimes beauty and knowledge comes out of terrible events. Sometimes not thinking and taking everything as is can be a wonderful past time. I wish you the best with treatment!

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  7. Thought provoking. I feel there are times that we NEED to do nothing or think of nothing. It brings life back in focus. Having dealt with the devastation of cancer in a close family member, I can’t begin to understand the thought process. Perhaps NOT thinking is comforting.

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  8. Brilliant! This is such a brilliant post! I think too much and feel too much and often I also think about how I feel, which is bizarre. Not thinking about not thinking…I love the thought of it!

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  9. Cancer is like a tunnel. After you are in it, there are no turns. No more choices. You do what you must, follow the prescribed course of treatment. You’re right. Thinking a lot is dangerous. You sound like you are being absolutely normal to me, but then, who am I to judge?

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  10. I usually associate depression with too much thinking. Not the kind of organized thinking that leads to achievement, but the narcissistic fueled self-loathing thinking that paralyzes. Honestly, I don’t believe thinking can happen without feeling, at least not to any avail. This would support the notion of psychopathic thought being very vain, because the lack of an emotional compass leads only to trouble. I digress. I believe you are content, because you feel like everything humanly possible is being done for you in your situation. But do tell me if I am mistaken.

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