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


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.


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.

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

  1. I have a problem with doing nothing. Sometimes I line up so many things I would like to do that I end up doing nothing because I can’t choose which thing I want to do first then I find, alarmingly that I have done nothing. Then I feel annoyed that I have somehow wasted my time by occupying myself with inactivity. Then I realise that all the things that I thought I wanted to do were not enough to make me actually do them, so they were not really what I wanted to do in the first place then were they?
    Well that’s what I tell myself so that I don’t fell bad about wasting some my finite time on earth.
    I like looking out of the window though, not much of view from my windows, being in the middle of a housing estate that blocks views across the estuary and all the wildlife that congregates there, but I do find myself sitting and staring sometimes. Taking a quiet moment out of whatever other activity I have lined up for myself. It’s somehow relaxing in a way that other activities aren’t.

    The main problem, as I see it, of doing nothing is – you are never quite sure when you are finished.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I have found generally that there have been times in my life when I wanted to do something and times I’ve needed to do things. The problem is I usually do the things I want to do rather than need to do. I suppose it’s because like most humans I’m an emotional creature not a logical one. It’s been my experience that most people only do anything when they simply have to.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I think there is a time for frenetic activity and a time to rest and let the world and life come to you. Sounds to me like you are doing what you need to do – rest and let life come to you. I’m not sure there’s any real meaning in a lot of our hussle and bussle and as for thinking? well that can be the most dangerous past-time of all. So run today’s race. I have had times in my life when I have had to live moment to moment and yes I was depressed and without your excuse and you know what? I gave myself permission to do that because today that was all I could cope with. Tomorrow I might feel better and do more but today it was enough to just get through today. I don’t live like that anymore because I am in a much better place now but I know the signs when I just need to stop and let today be what it is. Looking out of the window is a wonderful pastime. I miss it. Don’t put any other label on it than ‘today’. I pray that all your todays will get better. x


  3. I’ve been there. I called it the Holding Pattern. I didn’t want to analyse thoughts or feelings too deeply. Chemo brain nuked much of my cognitive and analytical ability. I found that doing a Sudoku puzzle and jigsaw puzzle online daily helped – a bit. I viewed it like taking yet another form of medication for the side effects. And I got totally fed up with being positive for other people. Why should I waste my tiny precious resource of energy and positivity on making other people feel better? I was the one who was sick, and should be made to feel better by other people. So I didn’t see other people much. It’s not really doing nothing; you’re conserving energy, physical and emotional. Take as long as you need.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. “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.”

    What a powerful way to end your post. It’s an interesting, intellectual way to look at a profoundly emotional situation. Thank you for sharing your story and your struggles. My thoughts are with you.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I’m glad you wrote this, and it makes me think deeply. That may be selfish of me, but you reaching others validates your reach beyond the room you’re bored in. No one could write what you did here if they weren’t emotional. You just communicate it in a different way than most. Hang in there.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. There is nothing wrong with being in the moment, gazing at leaves bend double in the wind, observing life as it surrounds you. Who says ‘busy’ is something to aspire to?

    Dealing with Cancer is enough of a ‘thing to do’ my friend.

    I love your free flow of thought, your frankness and your writing. You have a new follower – one who is sending you positive healing vibes and applause for having the guts to just BE.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I just went on leave a week and a half ago. When I did so, I was concerned how I would fill the time. Already I feel something akin to dismay at the idea of “filling time.” It feels right to have still time. How do I say as much to my also concerned acquaintances? “It’s not that I am doing too little, but that you are doing too much.”

    Might I recommend The Good Wife?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Maybe we all need to different amounts and different times. I was used to doing lots of things very quickly. Now I do little, slowly. It’s just a change of pace and may not be forever.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Found this and was intrigued so read all your blog posts. I just love your attitude and your humour that shine through what must be a very difficult time for you. Keep blogging girl, I for one will keep reading ’em! Oh and inactivity is an activity in itself……….

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It can be cured…sometimes…not always. I am hopeful that mine will be. I know many people who have not been able to be cured.

      I am intrigued by your use of the word ‘just’. Are you implying that cancer is somehow the same as a bit of a cold?


  9. good post…keep doing it…as I am new blogger I posted couple of blogs and not able to get that much popularity please visit my blog http://mindtechnorms.wordpress.com …please help me by reading by any blog (as I read yours) and try to find is there any writing issues or I’m expecting too early…your valuable comments will really boost my writing skills…


  10. There is so much pressure on people to fill their days with something “meaningful”. Children particularly are expected to keep busy. Personally I have no problem with doing nothing.
    Some people meditate others ruminate while a few use doing nothing as an excuse to procrastinate.

    I learned to do nothing while on a trip to one of the western isles of Scotland. I sat in a small hotel and looked out the window for four hours. That is a long time to do nothing.
    I discovered I was quite good at it.
    This ability has served me well when travelling as I can sit in places like airport terminals doing nothing and enjoying it.

    Don’t let people badger you into “being busy”, it only makes them feel better, not you.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Exactly. I think Proust or Camus or someone said that a man (or woman) can only be truly happy once he/she can sit quietly alone. Or something like that.


  11. You obviously are doing ( or not doing) what you need for YOU, in the present. If it works keep on doing / not doing it until the time comes that you need to do something else 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  12. There’s a time for doing and a time for being. The problem with most people is we don’t take time to be.
    I commend your post most sincerely!
    To be in your situation and to be able to step into a state of no-mind is extremely difficult for most people, for those who can there are benefits.
    I had cancer ten years ago, had my bladder removed and my colon dissected to form a new bladder. Today I am good, Thank God.
    I know that I am one of the lucky ones and have new perspectives as to what is important and what is not.
    You are so right when you say those negative thoughts are not worth thinking about and I’m not going to tell you positive ones would be any better. i think both of them make room for internal dramas.
    I am sure that your state of being will fade away the same way as it came along. In such a state, grace itself can be touched. Enjoy!
    You seem pretty good a writing to me, your blog captured my attention. For me I often lose myself in my writing. I love writing. I write poetry and wrote a poem called cancer survivor, would you like me to post it here?
    If I can be of any assistance to you, please don’t hesitate.
    In the meantime blessings are on there way to you.
    I have four children, my eldest is 23. She still needs her mammy and daddy, my youngest is fourteen. They are the biggest blessings in my life.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for such lovely feedback. Please feel free to share your poem here. I am glad you are feeling well and that you have come through your cancer so well.


    2. Cancer survivor:

      Uncertain about what was wrong
      Procrastinating all along
      On what I hear and read about
      All the time just casting doubt

      One doc says its all ok
      Just take this, it’ll go away
      I try his remedy and many more
      But still there’s something wrong, it’s sore

      A second opinion the only choice
      The answer this time is not so nice
      They say the bold word empathically
      A jail term incurs, now I’m not free

      Days before they operate
      Self esteem just wasn’t great
      The evening sun up on the parapet
      Think some more, another cigarette

      I have to make it for my children and wife
      If only to allow them a better life
      I cannot leave them where they are
      My children will not go very far

      But what if this is it, the end of the road
      I’m going to rest in my final abode
      No matter what there’s one thing for sure
      I can only accept whatever it’ll will incur

      I’m not going to worry my self to death
      A conscience clear, has no need to fret
      My body, my vehicle, may well break down
      But my spirit in truth has no need to frown

      My spirit rose and saved me
      At the mercy of the big C
      Turboed by my wife and children
      And some friends and family

      Find your reason to go on
      Then believe with all you’ve got
      That you will be there to see it through
      But know it won’t change things, if you’re not.

      Seven years later I write this poem
      Through the grace of God my energy’s still flowing
      I think it’s back with each ache and pain
      But those kind of thoughts could drive me insane

      All those aches I felt long before the cancer
      They’re just normal, of that I am sure
      I have no worries, each day is a gift
      It’s my own duty to give my spirit a lift

      A raised spirit holds so much strength
      I held my faith without relent
      With the angels above and by my side
      No fear, anguish or anxieties to hide

      A message for you who got the bad news
      I’m either lucky or blessed to still stand in my shoes
      I never gave up, I held hope in my heart
      To my surprise I was given a new start

      John Hayden Copyright © 2012

      Liked by 2 people

  13. We tend to think to much about not thinking enough. I myself could think myself into believing that the world is real and I am a grain of sand in an hour glass. Oops, time is up.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Brilliant. Thank you for your non thoughts. And I send hope and well wishes for your health. It sounds like your mental health is in a very good place. So I will borrow the peace I feel from this. And keep my hopes and wishes for your physical wellness.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. As someone who suffers from a mental illness (bi-polar) that’s thrown my life off-track and makes me incredibly prone to depression, I find that thinking about my situation often sends me down the rabbit hole of sadness and self-loathing.
    Sometimes, not thinking is the best thing you can do for yourself.
    Good luck with your treatment — I think you’ll pull through.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. It is true that over thinking brings trouble. However, if thr is a lack of thinking, wont there be more trouble? Haha


  17. Well, I’m a teen and people say depression comes to us naturally. I’ve had my fair share of it. But what excites me most about this post is that it points to a remedy I found that few people ever try. Thought! It’s very close to depression, only instead of just shrugging in your head you are filled with wonder about all the zillion things happening around you. It has it’s side effects though. I’m absent minded most of the time people are talking to me. Hehe…veeeery annoying.


  18. Very well written, it is something I am all to familiar of – my mum was diagnosed with breast cancer last July and I know how hard it can be as seeing the effects it has on my mum is distressing – she has serious bouts of ‘chemo brain’ and thinking ends with crying. I do my best to help diffuse the situation but it can be very hard a by-stander. I wish you all the best and hope your treatment goes well. Take care.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for your feedback. Hope your mum’s treatment is going well and that you are both able to find the positives in everything. There are always positives. Sometime they are a bit well hidden is all.


  19. You in a state of being and I think it right for you are a human being not a human doing!! We often get too lost in doings trying to leave evidence that we were here but I like that you are just here and being in the present it’s all you can do. Fight on!


  20. I just remember a said for you from Kurt Vonnegut “of course it is exhausting, having to reason all the time in a universe which wasn’t mean to be reasonable”

    Sometimes, to find our own peace of mind, we need to let go of the thought, the logic, ans the reason. Because everything there because it simply is. I wish you well for your treatment. Thank you for the story.

    Liked by 1 person

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