Clock & Colour: nothing to do fast, yet wanting it to come quickly FILM CLIP

              Here’s a little illustration of a colourful routine… incidental aesthetics which you have more time to notice when you’re ‘un-busy’ recuperating. But they also make you feel stimulated and eager to get out into the world. I tried to capture it here. The ticking clock can be interpreted in any way: for me, significance in the tick of a clock varies.
               You find yourself with endless time to observe when you’re resting for weeks or months… or years. I really noticed this accumulating over time as experiences of chemotherapy regimes, surgeries and long-term side-effects evolved. My first experience of bed-bound followed by semi-bed-bound time lasted for 18 months due to a large surgery and high-dose intensive chemotherapy…. so that was a strong starting point to build on this sensation, although not typical of the general perception of teenage and young-adult life. My first obsession which grew from this was probably flowers but there have been several. With that level of chemotherapy the fatigue was so intense and long-lasting that I would spend plenty of time where looking at flowers by my bed was the only pleasurable thing I did all day, especially as eating was so often impossible and I was unable to have any real physical contact, read, wash myself, watch a screen or sit up. While infuriating, in other ways these aspects of illness can also develop positive impacts. I have been reminded of this in every period of illness and after my most recent operation I became more interested in colour and photography. For many people, but perhaps especially a young person with a chronic illness, this could really influence your life and career choices.
            For me it really gave me the drive to pursue writing and other things such as playing the piano therapeutically and experimenting with photography, film and gardening. I love to imagine I would have done these things anyway, but having become ill at 18, it isn’t possible to judge the impact these processes had on my perception and priorities as an adult. They were there with everything else in the shift from adolescence. I wouldn’t ever choose this path, but I can’t imagine my life any differently now. It’s not realistic or appropriate to say chronic and life-threatening illnesses are a gift: I have seen their worst effects on others and on my own life. But I do feel it has paradoxically created various sorts of freedom, growing amongst the many different physical and personal freedoms it takes away. I found that even at the worst times; when facing the prospect of no known cure and experimental life-threatening treatment, this in strange ways created a feeling of the pain and the antidote at the same time.
              For example: while I was devastated by the realisation of fear caused by the sudden prospect of leaving my family, friends and the beautiful world behind, I experienced freedom in the overwhelming sensation that love and time with those I love, is the only thing which matters to me. This is a strange paradox of sadness and joy. The second great freedom came in the fear of losing consciousness forever. This created a powerful awareness of my own consciousness and how astonishing it is to experience it, for every second that I do. I felt an electrifying excitement in being conscious, feeling it’s inconceivably astonishing that consciousness evolved, that I’m so lucky to have it and could appreciate it in so many ways in all the time I might have in life. I began to form the idea that we exist like tiny scraps of the universe which have come together over milennia and now we are the universe looking back in on itself, which was quite an amazing feeling. We are not only ‘human’ but also parts of the universe itself – like planets and particles and electrons. At times on some deeper level, this made pain, sadness and fear more intelligible, as everything in nature and in the universe is riven with disorder and brutality; but at times even this was made irrelevant by emotion good and bad. For example when my greatest ‘cancer-buddy’ died, in the most extreme moments of physical pain, or in stark contrast when I met my boyfriend for the first time.
               Perhaps you know the feeling… it can happen any day: if you have a peaceful moment, resting after a virus watching leaves turn outside an open window or drinking tea on a Sunday morning after a night out. I remember sitting on the roof outside my friend Katy’s room in the rain one Sunday morning, a bit hungover and tired, and even the rain-drops hitting our heads seemed pretty.
                So in summary: I do recommend sitting in the rain, with or without clothes or even underwear (avoid being arrested if possible). I also suggest looking up at the colours of the leaves and the sky whenever you’re walking around and struck with stress or pain. It doesn’t always make it go away, but the images often leave a pleasing imprint in your mind. And if you are by any chance interested… the nail varnish used in this clip was Bourjois Fuschia Hype 
Thanks for reading!

lipstick-header-top-icon.jpg Olivia


7 thoughts on “Clock & Colour: nothing to do fast, yet wanting it to come quickly FILM CLIP

  1. beautiful post olivia….. thanks so much for sharing. i keep getting really bad stomach bugs here that leave me in a lot of pain. I’m just in bed now because of one and had to take my very first sick day. i would like to appreciate beautiful things and today I will try. Normally I do, but when ill/sick/tired/stressed I forget to. So thanks for the reminder. All my love and respect, Nina

    • Hi Nina, thanks very much for your comment. I’m very glad you enjoyed the pose. I’m so sorry to hear you’ve been ill though, that sounds horrible. I hope you have had something beautiful in your day. I also hope there’s someone there to help you feel better and that the bug eases off soon. Take much care! Much love and respect to you too, Olivia

  2. Hi Olivia – Jo here from The Knock on Effect. Just wanted to say your blog post is stunning. It brought back so many memories of our lovely Rosie and those intense contrasts of excitement and devastation; tediousness and amazing new experiences and the vividness of life and laughter and love. Thank you for reading our story and with all good wishes we can offer for yours. 🙂

    • Hi Jo, thank you so much for your comment. These comments really mean a lot to me. It’s so interesting to hear your perspective and I’m really touched to know that you found the post relatable and readable. I will continue to follow The Knock on Effect, which I think is such an incredibly inspiring project. Thanks for sharing your story. Best wishes, Olivia

  3. So much food for thought, Olivia! I loved your post! Thank you for taking the time to write about your reflections and experiences. “Freedom” is such a fascinating concept, and I found your slant on it compelling. One definition of “freedom” that seems relevant to your own use of the word is offered by Michel Foucault, who said (and I’m paraphrasing a bit loosely here):

    “Freedom is having the power to act, and doing so.”

    I don’t recall in which text he wrote this. I love this definition: I often reflect on my own uses of whatever power I have at any given time to assess whether I am living my life as fully as possible. This daily reflection about freedom motivates me to act and to take risks I might be tempted to avoid. Having the power to work actively towards a goal that is significant to me, however slow the progress might be, is a great gift! These days, I’m far less likely to procrastinate, whereas delaying creative action used to be a terrible rut I’d get into on a regular basis.

    I had always wanted to write (short stories, novels, and memoir, in particular). I earned a PhD in comparative literature before I was diagnosed with ovarian cancer (French, Spanish, and English-language fiction of the late 20th century), so I had read extensively, and I had some talent and skills as a writer. Also, I had always wished I could play the guitar. I could read music, having played flute for many years. But rather than dedicate myself to writing and to learning to play the guitar, I spent time engaged in activities I didn’t much value, not focusing in on and doing what I wanted most to do. I feared failure, and avoided risking failure.

    In 2010, my diagnosis of ovarian cancer, stage 3A, and a hysterectomy followed by 18 weeks of aggressive chemotherapy brought me to my senses. I had the power to write, and now I exercise that power, usually writing at least three hours or more daily. I’ve written several stories and am gearing up to write a novel. I bought an electric guitar and am thoroughly enjoying teaching myself to play. I usually manage to practice each day, even if it’s only for twenty minutes. Practicing the guitar relaxes me and focuses me at the same time: I feel as though time is suspended, or that I’ve entered an eternal time, a time outside of my usual experience. I don’t know how far I will advance in my playing. I don’t worry about that aspect. It’s the doing of the practice that matters, the devotion to my practice and to my growing understanding of music. I get so much pleasure from playing! I can hardly believe I delayed picking up the guitar for so long! These are just a couple of examples of how I’ve learned to exercise personal freedom, and thereby increased my experience of meaningfulness in my daily life.

    Of course, I agree with you that I would never have signed up for a diagnosis of ovarian cancer, regardless of the positive changes that developed out of that diagnosis. Yet, I also see that for you, as for me, the diagnosis and its aftermath drove you to grab hold of a kind of experience–call it freedom if you like–that might have remained fleeting in less stringent circumstances. Good luck to you, and thanks for reading and commenting on my blog about Angelina Jolie and the BRCA 1 and 2 gene mutations health issue.

    Please keep me posted on how you’re doing! Best, Miriam Rosser

  4. Dear Miriam, WOW! Thank you so much for writing this. I’m so glad you found the post to be thought-provoking. That’s great to hear! In your reply, you have made so many interesting points and it’s amazing to hear how you have reacted to your diagnosis and treatment. I feel the same about the piano. I love the Foucault reference – very apt indeed. It’s amazing that you write so often. Good for you! Do you ever post writing on your blog? I’m hoping to do this in the near future but not quite ready yet.

    i really enjoyed reading your post yesterday.
    Here’s a link to Miriam’s blog which is well worth a read:

    Thanks again and I hope you continue to feel well and can keep enjoying the creative responses to illness. I will keep you posted and will continue following your blog. It’s so nice to conect with people and hear perspectives on these processes.

    Best wishes, Olivia

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