Reframing Perspectives on Life's Certainties

Reframing Perspectives on Life's Certainties
Life is mostly froth and bubble - Adam Lindsay Gordon

Hi Everyone,

In act of pure circumstance, of wanting to presenting something other than "The Odyssey" by Homer at my reading group, I decided to open an anthology of best loved poems and search for a quick poem that I could recite and share at my reading club.

In such a casual act, I managed to come upon the smallest poem that inspired an entire blog post and reaffirming of choices and actions I take each day.

Life is mostly froth and bubble,Two things stand like stone.Kindness in another's trouble,Courage in your own. 

Adam Lindsay Gordon

This short poem literally conjured other idioms and phrases I had heard in repetition in school and career and made me think how the older I become the more uncertain I am about the world and the plans humans so diligently make.

As such, the poem drew finely sharpened the memories of my attitudes I had towards certainties in life before kidney failure, on dialysis and now post-transplant. You'll find since visiting the website, there are now new tags in line with these stages of my life with which I want to continue to explore in my writing.

However, let me delve into what I have learnt about certainty, planning and achievement.

Before Kidney Failure

A bit of context about me is that I followed a very traditional pathway in my attitudes towards career and education. I studied hard and focused on getting into a good university to get into a good job.

I ended up studying Economics at University and later went onto have a career in Accountancy at a Big Four Firm as an Auditor.

An idiom about certainties in life that followed me around everywhere in my studies was:

In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.

Benjamin Franklin

I believe I have never actually encountered the full quote accredited to Benjamin Franklin but largely paraphrased the common idiom:

There are no certainties in life, except Death and Taxes.

A highly morbid and factual take on the certainties in life and I largely related to this idiom in the face of adversity or uncertainty in exam results etc.

I ended up using the idiom to spur myself on to work harder to improve the odds of your luck in achieving goals.

A bit of problematic way of thinking looking back. Probably should of focused on the "Death" a bit more with the unhealthy studying practices I was doing in hindsight. 😅

During Dialysis

I was no longer worrying about taxes having reduced hourly work week and generally slowing my progression up the career ladder in favour of looking after my health.

Amidst the limbo of waiting on the NHS transplant list and plodding along on dialysis, uncertainty was rife in my life.

There was no certainty.

The only certainty I felt I had was that rather morbid idiom that came to mind.

Luckily, during this bleak period of my life, I was supplied by my therapist another quote by Lao Tzu about facing anxieties of an uncertain future.

Loss of Sense of Self on Dialysis
Reflecting on my first year on dialysis and the feeling of having lost my identity as I began to make more and more accommodations in my life for dialysis to the point where I no longer recognised any resemblance of my past self

Post Transplant

One of the biggest things I've learnt are that the big milestone events which we carve out in our lives or plan in maps of our lives to come ARE the things that are uncertain.

We can potentially increase the odds of something happening but when fate bestows upon you the unexpected chapter in your life like Kidney Failure, this is where we feel we have no control at all.

What I absolutely LOVE about Gordon's

Life is mostly froth and bubble,
Two things stand like stone.
Kindness in another's trouble,
Courage in your own. 

Adam Lindsay Gordon

... is that Gordon completely reframes what is certain in life.

He transforms our expectation of external events to the realm of the uncertain and uses transient adjectives like "froth and bubble".

Instead locates certainty in the intrinsic and internal with our individual behaviour.

We all have control over our behaviour to each other and ourselves.

🪨 Two things stand like stone.

There is no hedging in the way he has written this line, it is stated like FACT just like Franklin's quote but even more emphatic with the full stop (not to be GCSE literary on you all). 😂

I just love how in so few words he has clearly stated that there is no room for modification both "standing" and "stone" being so solid and immovable, if not everlasting.

It therefore lends it's anchoring to the following couplet "Kindness in another's trouble, Courage in your own."

"Kindness" and "Courage" perhaps considered more softer traits are lent the unwavering strength of stone in their juxtaposition.

💖 Kindness in another's trouble

I was instantly reminded of all the support I received during Dialysis from my entire support network: family, friends, co-workers, medical staff, charities and volunteers!

There is no doubt there were times when I was not my best self on dialysis and had a lot of anger, paranoia and frustration and openly aired it but it was often met with kindness, advice, and even forgiveness.

Once I returned to the light, I was impassioned to peer support others within the young adult community and this short poem highlights the VERY REAL power we all have in ourselves to make impact on other people's lives and... our own.

I have felt this in my volunteering and peer support of young adults within the kidney community. Lending a listening ear and telling them that all the anger and anxieties they feel are completely justifiable is and was enough for them and for me too.

I've always felt this was the most powerful message to communicate to anyone going through a life changing experience such as kidney failure and starting dialysis.

💪🏻 Courage in your own


Developing the courage to believe in myself, in what I can do and not focusing in on what I can't was a gradual but rewarding shift in mentality that I practically forced myself to go through during dialysis.

All the labels and traits I had self assigned to myself: my intellect, my appearance, my aspirations were all destabilised on dialysis and I genuinely felt like I lost huge part of myself.

I must admit post transplant I do believe a large part of that was due to the level of toxins and general bad stuff that WAS NOT being removed from my body on dialysis, which hampered much my ability to think rationally or coherently even and of course the physical swelling from fluid retention.


I genuinely and unashamedly do review my time on dialysis a major success!

I was incredibly lucky to live relatively normal life working from home, meeting with friends occasionally and going short breaks away from home in the UK with family.

And I have learnt to openly and honestly self congratulate myself on this.

I did not do it alone but within me there was "courage" and there was perseverance in the face of adversity.

In my then third (final) year on dialysis I was pursuing many avenues of life in career, volunteering, hobbies (like this website) to live my best life on dialysis and I was only truly able to do that when I finally backed and believed in myself.

No doubt, that took "courage" because for many years on dialysis I no longer believed in who I was or have any aspirations of someone to be.

It's time to change the narrative:

I suppose what I want to leave with you in my interpretation of Gordon's short poem is that YOU have all the power to bring more light into your life.

YOU have power over your emotions, thoughts and actions.

Do your best to make light of the downturns in life perhaps even some of the successes because they are "merely froth and bubble".

Thank you so much for taking time to read this today!

I probably dwell too much on purposeful living and legacy but this small poem grounded me in the everyday behaviours I can control and enforce in daily life that give me the power to make impact everywhere I go.


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IGA Nephropathy confirmed at 21. Crashed into End Stage Renal Failure at 23. Now, I share with the world my 3 years lived experience on Home Peritoneal Dialysis and Post Transplant Living 10/10/2023