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Minds Over Bodies and The Impossibility of Resting

16/05/2004

I am just about to go away on a retreat again. I am going to buy lots of food from Marks and Spencers, and some bath oil. It’s not faraway, so if there are any disasters, like I drive on the wrong side of the road, or get trampled by cows, or have a funny turn, someone can come and get me! I am going to work on the novel mainly, although I am also writing a piece called SKIN for Live Theatre for their New Writing Festival, and some scenes from the Taxi Driver’s Daughter for stage, which will be interesting. I also want to develop the Manifesto for Tyneside as a musical! Actually, even though I have tried very hard to give up most things, and to learn the art of living on a sofa, I am just no good at it. While that amazing woman Jane is riding her bike across Italy, I am addicted to wild ideas and projects, when all my friends and loved ones keep telling me to rest. But what IS rest? Watching tv isn’t restful. It makes me feel like my head is doused in smog. Reading is lovely, and so is being brought little trays of tasty morsels, but I have always found it hard to stay still for long. I can really understand why that woman wants to push her body….in the Observer she said, Well what am I supposed to do, sit in a chair and tell everyone my leg hurts?

But why do people want the ill to stay still? As a mother, I like to tuck up my daughters when they are poorly, to make them be proper invalids. But WHY? I think ill people who move around alot can make others nervous. They are worried they might break in public, and that there would be nobody there for them. Also, the idea of public deaths is really scary. But I know what Jane means about keeping going….the body is capable of such miracles, and you want to trick cancer by not behaving like a patient.

Anyway, I have been learning some simple meditation techniques, and that helps me keep still for a bit. Unlike Jane I am unlikely to run any marathons, but I do want keep on living in the world. We have both had cancer for a long time, and it gets kind of boring as a companion.

I have just been reading Margaret Forsters novel A Lady’s Maid, about Elizabeth Barret Browning’s servant. I mean look at Elizabeth BB…she spent most of the first half of her life wasting away on a sofa, unable to walk across the room, then fell in love with Robert and had a baby with him and lived in Italy! Minds are more powerful than bodies!

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