Learning To Smile Under The Sword Of Damocles, Or How To Inspire Oneself

 Chez Ollie

“To watch the ego mind is to escape the ego mind – true happiness if you can master it – I have a way to go, but progress is being made.” FitOldDog, today.

Hi folks, welcome!

Happy AgainMy challenge today is to be content with the moment, whilst I attempt to write to inspire others and learn to inspire myself. I await an unknown surgery date. There is once again a finite risk of rupture of my abdominal aortic aneurysm, and this fact is with me 24 hours per day – The Sword of Damocles combined with The Curse of Knowledge; unlike Damocles I cannot escape the hanging sword due to my medical background; I know too much. I have no physical symptoms!! It’s a mental journey that we all shall face one day, in one way or another.

This too shall pass!

Quite a Journey: the last two weeks, since the discovery of the leak, have been a roller coaster as I watched my ego mind kick and scream. First it was poor me, soon followed by jealousy of all those healthy people out there, then abject fear for myself, which morphed into fear for those who depend upon me, then the despair of never again undertaking Ironman training, to islands of calm, achieved in part through the distraction of movies and light reading, to this morning, when I actually felt happy again with my morning cup of tea.

Stent by spine smaller fileI started this blog over three years ago, driven by fear. Fear of failure of my abdominal aortic aneurysm stent graft. It finally failed in the last few weeks or months, who knows? This occurred due to no fault of my remarkable stent, Rupert. My aortic disease had progressed into the left common iliac artery, rendering that branch of the stent unstable, and out it popped. So, here I am once again, but with much more experience under my belt and a wealth of supporters, many gained through my frequent use of Social Media, and others being my local and remote family and friends.

Build a network, be kind and thoughtful, learn to listen (took me years), and you will be rewarded.

The Power of NowSo, how to step outside of one’s hopes (I hope to live a long time and continue Ironman training) and fears (I fear for myself and those who depend on me)?

This is a trick called growth, and I suspect that it requires two things, (1) situations such as these, which are strange gifts or opportunities to improve the mind and heart, and (2) the ability to turn off the fear-driven chatter generated by the ‘ego,’ and calm the mind through the simple but intensely challenging process of meditation.

Fortunately, over the last three years I didn’t confine my life to Ironman training, I also trained myself consistently on quieting the mental chatter, mainly using the techniques described so well by Eckhart Tolle.

Thanks so much everyone (too many to mention), especially Alan, Marsha, Eckhart, and all my local and remote friends and family, even the ones I don’t like so much (reminds me of Bilbo’s birthday speech), and of course the skilled medical professionals who will keep me alive.

Carpe Diem!

-k @FitOldDog



  1. Alan Martins says

    You’re p are a survivor, so on to bigger and better things.
    Enjoy your Journey.

    • Thank you Alan, and so are you I suspect, and most certainly a superior golfer to FitOldDog. Used to play 9 holes in Scotland on a local course for a couple of bucks. A good walked ruined? Nope it was fun, but the putting drove me nuts! Have fun today. Cheers, Kevin

  2. What doesn’t kill you will make you stronger! In Spirit if not body. Yes to the journey you are on, because now you are on the Ironman training of the brain and mind. You have a physical problem, it will get fixed, and then what? I’m walking the golf course today, with a dear friend, and will be thinking of you!

  3. Nearly 50 years ago I was in a position similar to you. It left its mark on me and took a lot to deal with it.
    Churchill said “There is nothing more exhilarating than being shot at – without result”. I just do not see that the way he did. But then he was a natural warrior and I am not.
    Yes you have to cope with that internal mental chatter. That is not easy but you are not alone.

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Disclaimer: As a veterinarian, I do not provide medical advice for human animals. If you undertake or modify an exercise program, consult your medical advisors before doing so. Undertaking activities pursued by the author does not mean that he endorses your undertaking such activities, which is clearly your decision and responsibility. Be careful and sensible, please.