I caught a nasty cold last Friday night. My assistant Deb was here patiently working out a Google calendar snag when I felt it come on. It’s creepy fascinating to watch your body being invaded — the slight pain in your throat, the burning behind your eyes, the creeping lassitude. Who needs reality TV when you have your body to observe?
Deb left, I started in on tea and… resistance.
Because I hate to be sick. No, that’s not accurate. I like to be sick but just a little and only when I want to be. Like on a Saturday morning when the house is tidy, the work stamped DONE! and everyone in the family is off doing something they adore. Why then, a tickle in my throat is welcome! Sure, let’s cozy up on the couch with books, doodle dogs, and tea.
one doodle dog
Yet being flat-out on my back sick does the opposite, sends me into the staccato tizzy of squirmy existential questioning. Which is not terribly conducive to getting better.
Being sick requires surrender — to the pillow in the middle of the day, to “I have to stop typing right now and go back to bed,” to honoring the “I can’t talk, it hurts too much” truth.
Being sick brings a lot of grace and humility. You can’t be all in your head when you are sick — it’s too full of snot — you have to hang out with the aches and weird traveling stabbing pains. You have to move at the pace your body wants — not the pace of your go-go-get-it brain. You get closer to mortality, which is always a very good thing.
If you let yourself.
Or you can flop around like a political candidate and miss all the goodies.
I did both.
Here are a couple of helpful thoughts I mostly sort of listened to this week:
- You will get well. You will not always be sick.Your mind is lying when it says you will be. Sink into the deepest comfort you can find right now.
- Not everyone in the world is currently at the best party ever nor are they doing their best work ever** while you blow your nose. Pinkie swear.
- This sick gig could be good if you give in to it. What do you need to do to help that happen? What would, if you continue doing it, mean that sweet surrender won’t happen? Make a choice.
- Sometimes, when you are nasty sick, your mind goes to the very bad neighborhood and there it hatches fetid fevered stories everything that is wrong with the world. Distract yourself with English period movies (this is why Downton Abbey was produced!) or whatever your happy distraction of choice. This is not the time for reflecting on the world’s ills.
- I regress into bad habits when I’m sick like checking email too often. If you find yourself doing that thing that makes you feel bad about yourself, remind yourself you can and will stop when you feel better. Give yourself a break.
Okay, there you have it: Resist resist resist or accept accept accept? The choice is always — thank god and dammit — ours.
**On other people doing their best work ever: I’m collaborating with the ultra-talented Susannah Conway and the shining but not-in-a-saintly way Marianne Elliot in June (Creating + Rest + Business Brainstorming — the Creative Joy Retreat) and in emails this week they were talking about their book launches (Susannah has two soon to be in your hands! Marianne‘s is already a best-seller!) and about being so busy… I will totally admit to going to the dark place of feeling like a sodden used tissue. But only for about 1 minute!
*** Bowing hugely for all your emails, cards, comments, and high Twitter fives on the occasion of my engagement to Bob. I am breathing in the love. It truly is a miracle.
(And yes, maybe I got sick because my body is throwing off the old story of “can’t be loved.” If so, go body go! I love a new story, oh don’t I!)
Do you learn anything from being sick? I’d love to hear!