Knowing when to stop

This has never been an easy concept for me.  As an art student knowing when to surrender the paintbrush was one of the most difficult things to master.  Knowing when a work is finished requires a certain amount of confidence and self assurance in ones abilities.  I believe a work is done when the artist becomes the audience and the work begins to speak for it self – in turn commanding it’s own presence.  Many times I have overworked an image which has revealed a tortured and clumsy work, ultimately a lack of knowing in oneself.  Jackson Pollack was once asked “How do you know when you are finished?” he replied with the question: “How do you know you are done making love?” I imagine the answer to be when you are satisfied.

This insatiable thirst for satisfaction has driven us in every pursuit of this 21St century and we are all a little desperate in our search for more.  More knowledge, more technology, more access, more entertainment, more connections, more money, more stuff and more searching for outward stimulus in the hope that we will one day be happy.  I’ve never been a fan of the word happy when searching to describe the ultimate state of being, I prefer to pursue the notion of being content.  The title of my site: my impermanent life, hopefully reflects on the way that I now choose to live my life based on the simple philosophy of impermanence. Perhaps a bitter pill to swallow if you are looking for happiness as the ultimate life goal.

Knowing when to stop has alluded me in other facets of my life.  In the good ol’ days (pre-cancer) my friends and I were usually the ones to stay out late and then continue to party the night away at someones house for a usually regrettably long amount of time.  Note to self, I never want to see the sun rise in heels again. This desire to keep having fun was of course the desire of the ego, a mere illusion.

Rarely did a night out end at a reasonable hour, except of course on this one occasion.  My friend and I, and for the sake of the story lets call this person Katherine, were on a Thelma and Louise kind of revenge-drinking mission. We were hell bent on having fun hard and drinking hard.  Why we were so determined is anyones guess however we had become pretty damn good at it.  We started our night at a seedy pub in Surry Hills woofing down tacos, tequila shots and margarita’s which were not my drinks of choice, however it seemed to fit the vibe of the place.  Our night had just begun and we were warming up.  The only thing to do was to keep on going this time harder and stronger than before.  We literally danced and sang our way to the next venue.  I vividly recall Katherine standing on the bench of a bus stop belting out the cheesy tune: Time Of My Life from Dirty Dancing, it was of course the perfect duet for two girls who wanted to live by this mantra.  We serenaded each other and the bemused passers by to our corny yet heart felt rendition, we sang from our hearts and we drew on all our music video knowledge to pull this off.  I thought I was on the stage of a broadway musical and I desperately revelled in the magic of drunken abandon.  We got to our next venue and entered the shady bar via the dimly lit alley way.  We headed to the bar without hesitation and ordered, “Two shots of whisky, bottom shelf please.”  We didn’t want the fancy french champagne that we had been exposed to, we wanted the nasty stuff- we were going to put hairs on our chests.  The bartender was somewhat amused by our antics, killing ourselves laughing and high fiving each other like we had made it into the fraternity of cheap ass drinkers.  I instinctively and somewhat impulsively decided that we were not going to be the only ones to have fun tonight so I ordered a round of whisky shots for the bar staff. One round, two rounds then three. We were on fire. Why things went south so quickly I really can’t be sure, although I do know that we were told that our brand of fun was no longer welcome and that we were to leave the bar.  We dutifully bowed our heads and did what we were good at, we moonwalked out of there. And what a fun way to exit a venue. It seems on this occasion that knowing when to stop had not been necessary as the decision had been made for us, we were no longer moonwalking, we were now crab walking our way back to our apartments.

Knowing when to stop this whole mess of a Breast Cancer diagnosis has also been met with similar difficulty.  Unfortunately some of the medical specialists treating me have used very emotive and coercive language when determining the best course of action for my condition.  I use the word unfortunate as this is not what I had been banking on, I have always been interested in the facts and the science. Having my Oncologist use fear as a way to get me to follow their chosen path of treatment has been very confusing for me.  The fear of  ‘not being able to see my children grow up’ is of course gut wrenching for any parent. Throwing this little aside comment in does not make for very scientific choices.  I have decided not to go ahead with Radiation Therapy even if my Doctor would ‘hit me on the head with a brick if I were their relative’.  The odds are thankfully stacked in my favour, I choose to focus on the 70% chance of cancer not coming back in 10 years rather than worrying about the 30% chance of recurrence.

Knowing when to stop has not been easy, howeverI have made my decision to cease treatment and am very content with the facts presented to me. I know that I am done and can now say that I am satisfied and willing to end this part of my treatment.

3 thoughts on “Knowing when to stop

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