For more than 25 years, I have practised anaesthesia. One would think that by now I would know for sure that procedures take much longer than they are scheduled for and that every list these days is overbooked. Still, foolishly I hope to finish in time every day. Even though I have had to cancel after-work plans on many occasions, at every new opportunity I want to give a chance to the possibility of a desirable outcome.
When Saagar was ill, I was optimistic. I believed that he would get better. That it was only a matter of time. The messages I got from professionals reaffirmed that belief. My faith in life and confidence in Saagar and myself kept that belief strong.
Now when I am with worried parents and friends, I hold their uncertainty and mine. Things can go one of many ways. We don’t know. We just need to be with that uncomfortable uncertainty with positivity. That is compassion. Understanding.
In quantum physics, Heisenberg’s principle of Uncertainty says that there is an inherent uncertainty in the amount of energy involved in quantum processes and in the time it takes for those processes to happen. Vacuums are often defined as the absence of everything. But not so in quantum theory. It is possible that for very, very short periods of time, a quantum system’s energy can be highly uncertain, so much that particles can appear out of a vacuum. This is well within the laws of quantum physics, as long as the particles only exist fleetingly and disappear when their time is up. Uncertainty, then, is nothing to worry about in quantum physics and, in fact, we wouldn’t be here if this principle didn’t exist.
“One misconception is that entrepreneurs love risk. Actually, we all want things to go as we expect. What you need is a blind optimism and a tolerance for uncertainty.”
His career choice is dismissed by some as : “You’re just trying to fix your own psychological problems, just like all mental health professionals.” Having psychological problems is not insulting. They are common, often treatable and nothing to be ashamed of.
Surely, heart and cancer researchers are not perceived in the same light. This is another reflection of the stigma that surrounds suicide.
Stigma is fear combined with disgust, contempt and lack of compassion – all of which flow from ignorance. We need to understand that suicide is not easy, painless, cowardly, selfish, vengeful or rash. It is not caused just by medicines, anorexia, smoking or plastic surgery. It is partly genetic and influenced by mental disorders which in themselves are agonising. That it is preventable (eg. through means restriction like bridge barriers) and treatable (talk about suicide is not cheap and should warrant specialist referral).
Once we get all that in our heads, we need to let it lead our hearts.
“I am terrified of this dark thing that sleeps in me,
All day I feel its feathery turnings,
– by Sylvia Plath
Joe put an advert in his local paper which read: “Senior citizen, 89, seeks employment in Paignton area. 20 hours plus per week. Still able to clean, light gardening, DIY and anything. I have references. Old soldier, airborne forces. Save me from dying of boredom!” He said he had lived alone since his wife, Cassandra, died two years ago and had been lonely. “When you live on your own there is no one to speak to. Since she died I’ve moved into a flat and it’s a big block. Once you walk into that flat it’s like solitary confinement,” he said. He is due to start work at a cafe in the town after the owners of the family-run business spotted his request.
Film-maker Sue Bourne says it’s a major public health issue. Her BBC documentary is called “Age of Loneliness”. It tells the stories of 14 people, young and old. “A silent epidemic that’s starting to kill us. But we don’t want to talk about it. No-one really wants to admit they are lonely.”
Si is away for a week. It’s only tolerable because I know I will see him at the end of the week. I tell myself it’s ok but it’s not easy. I miss him. I have something planned with friends for every other evening of the week so that I have something to look forward to. Something to keep me distracted. I can’t imagine how it must feel to loose a spouse or a partner you love and have been with for decades.
View: An online magazine that talks about issues that matter.
Editor: Brian Pelan
The custom of placing flowers on an alter is an ancient one. In the sixth century, Ikebana was founded in Kyoto as an offering to the Goddess of Mercy. Flower arranging contests were held at the imperial court where aristocrats and monks competed with each other at festivals.
In the early 16th century people tried to give a deeper meaning to the thoughts accompanying flower arranging. They wished to arrange rather than casually placing them in a vase. An earlier attitude of passive appreciation developed into a more deeply considered approach.
Rikka is the oldest style of Ikebana. Trees symbolise mountains while grasses and flowers suggest water. A natural landscape is expressed in a single vase. Indeed, all things in nature are reflected. In Rikka it is important to know the laws of nature through harmony of trees and plants.
It is my good fortune that I have the opportunity to be very intimate with Mother Nature in this concrete jungle of London. I have a teacher who is dedicated to passing this ancient tradition on to future generations. Her school has generated a number of teachers who inspire many people like me. Arranging flowers is like meditation in motion. The right brain can express itself to the fullest. The intuitive decision making, the textures, smells and colours of materials, the elegant shapes, the spatial organisation and the movement within bring peace and satisfaction. It is creative within a set of rules. It is aesthetically appealing to the subtle sensibilities. It is a gentle experience of being one with nature.
When I was in India for a couple of weeks, I missed all the Archers and Desert Island discs. I couldn’t listen to BBC Radio 4 but was content in the knowledge that I could listen to these programmes when I got back as they would all be downloaded as Podcasts on my I-pad. While in the Himalayas, I attended a writing retreat where we talked about blogging and podcasting. I learnt that I could make podcasts of my own and put them on-line. I didn’t believe it but I liked the idea of trying it some day.
One of Saagar’s friends, Nate kindly came to cat-sit for us while we were away. He was home when we got back and it was a delight to have him around. I was assured of excellent technical assistance with him here and he very kindly agreed to be the first guinea pig. So, we got on with it and made a little recording this morning.
Here’s our first experimental, unscripted, unedited podcast. A brief conversation (8 minutes) between 2 amateur participants about what the world looks like from the standpoint of this young man. Comments, suggestions and volunteers welcome. 🙂
Whether this will reach you I do not know, whether this will cause you pain I hope not as that is the opposite of my intention! I have hummed and harred over sending this message to you as I am not usually one for publicising my feelings or feeling like I am getting involved in other people’s business but I just wanted to send you a message.
I only learned yesterday of saagars death. A photo came up on my news feed with the quote ‘gone but never forgotten’. I read in to the articles I found on his profile and was instantly shocked and completely saddened by what I read.
First of all my thoughts go out to all of you and your family and friends, I can not begin to imagine how traumatic the last two years have been. I met saagar when I must of been about 16 years old, I was on a train coming back from Exeter and he got on somewhere between there and London. I was at a table with my revision books out, I had my French GCSE exam the next day. He sat opposite me and we instantly started talking. We did not stop talking for the entire 2 hours and we helped each other with French (he later admitted that he has chosen to sit by me because he saw my French books and had the same exam the next day!), he offered me his carrots and humous, we talked about the gym, drumming, his girlfriend at the time, who he’d been to stay with. I can honestly say that he was and still to this day is the loveliest stranger I had ever met. He was gorgeous, funny, talented and charming and we got on incredibly well in such a short space of time. We kept in contact via Facebook and unfortunately lost touch over the years and I never got to physically see him again, but I will never forget meeting him. I am so sorry for your loss and again am sorry if this message upsets you, I just want you to be proud of the amazing man that you brought up and I will forever cherish those few hours that i spent with him x”
(Message from EH on FB Messenger dated 6/8/2016. Discovered yesterday.)
Your message does not upset me E. I have always been proud of him and always will be. Thank you very much for taking the time to write to me.
The bags from my journey home 2 days ago were still waiting to be unpacked. I was in two minds whether to go for the service or not. I could think of a hundred items I could tick off my ‘to-do list’ if I didn’t go. It was optional after all, even though I had booked a place for myself.
I have lived in London for nearly 11 years. I work 150 yards away from it and yet, have never visited the Westminster Abbey. This was my chance. If I didn’t go today, I would probably never make the effort.
‘A Service of Celebration and Hope’ was being held by DrugFAM.
A charity that provides a lifeline of safe, caring and professional support for families, friends and carers who are struggling to cope with the nightmare of a loved one’s addiction to drugs and alcohol.
Elizabeth Burton-Phillips lost one of her twins, Nick, to heroin addiction in 2004. During this harrowing time, she and her family had very little support. In 2006, she founded DrugFAM with the sole aim of ensuring that no family, friends or carers are left living in isolation, fear and ignorance of the support available.
Silence, shame and stigma – these terms apply to Mental illness and Drug addiction. Both remain deeply misunderstood.Both claim many young lives – lives worth talking about. Today’s service was a public acknowledgement of the strength and courage of those lost to addiction and of those who are still living with active addiction in their families. In her address Elizabeth quoted Robin Williams,”I used to think that the worst thing in life is to end up alone. It’s not. The worst thing in life is to end up with people who make you feel alone.” She said, ‘Today, no one in this Abbey is alone.’ It was indeed a celebratory, yet serene and unifying one hour. It was a renewed commitment to continue efforts to enable every human being to live with dignity, to be respected and to fulfil their potential.
Even though my ‘to do’ list was left untouched, I felt honoured to be there.