Tales of an Aspiring Human: Vol. 1 Ep. 1
I write to you tonight from the cozy depths of my messy, book-piled bed, a little wastebasket full of soggy tissues nearby and my loyal (if disgusted) cat Twinkie at my side. My colossal and mind-altering sneezes cause her to look at me with infinite disdain. Meanwhile, tea sits brewing on my dark windowsill as heavy rain clouds brood ominously over our little valley.
I'm sick. I have a cold. And it's just the perfect thing right now.
A screeching halt
Perhaps because my awesome mom used to bring everything to a screeching halt when my sister or I came down with "a bug," to this day, I regard my (fortunately rare) illnesses as opportunities to shut everything down and get in bed--all the way under the sheets. Growing up, the rule was that unless you were truly ill, you couldn't get under the sheets during the daytime. (Ah, the Yankee Protestant Work Ethic! Good times.)
Right now, I'm under the sheets.
Like the fabulous snow days we used to have when I was a kid back East, being officially sick means (according to the ethics instilled in my childhood) I don't have to answer the phone, field texts, check my email, get dressed, look good, go outside, take a shower, be polite, or do much of anything except read, sleep, eat soup, and drink tea. And feed Twinkie. (She's only so tolerant.)
How this works
Question: How is being sick so nice for you? I can't take any time off from my two jobs and have three kids to feed.
Answer: For better or worse, I live blissfully alone in a tiny place, I'm a freelance writer and speaker with very few material needs, and my teenage son (whom I love immensely) goes on scholarship to a music school 6 hours away. And believe me, sometimes your steady job looks pretty good from here. I wrote a little book about some simple changes in how we think and act that (if you want) will lead to waaaaaaay less stress. You can get it free here when you sign up for my newsletter, which would totally make my day!
But relaxing is so effing hard!
I'm the kind of person who benefits from being periodically forced to relax. It's my most important practice right now, but I'm so dense and stubborn on this particular point that it takes a bad cold to hit me upside the head before I'll "get under the sheets," metaphorically and literally speaking. Even as a baby I wasn't relaxed. My mom said I always nursed with my little arms straight, pushing her away. My mind goes fast and my body has wiry, short-twitch muscles. I was a sprinter in school and still am in soooo many ways. Patience? Also on the list of things I'm working on.
But right now I don't have to do anything. I've gratefully surrendered to the absolute, final, incontrovertible fact that my body needs to rest, hydrate, and heal. I know at a very deep level that I could instantly kill whatever little virus this is and return to perfect health, but I don't quite remember how to do it yet, and besides, I don't have to do that either. I can just be here under the sheets and let my mind drift while I sip my tea, or halfway nap, or kind of watch a movie. Or write to you.
As the Universe turns
Why do I need a "valid" excuse to stop? Because despite my inner work and best intentions, part of me (specifically, my beleaguered and terrified ego) still wakes up firmly convinced that if I don't Do Stuff--particularly Important, Big, and Meaningful Stuff--the Universe will just absolutely fall out of the damn sky.
That's a lot of pressure.
And yeah, it's a difficult lesson to learn that: 1) part of me is that arrogant and 2) I honestly don't matter at all in the grand scheme of things. Now, it's even more challenging to learn that: 1) the more you think you know, the less you actually know and 2) each of us and our actions also matter infinitely.
And so here I lie in bed, possibly feverish (you be the judge), delivering what I hope will be a useful tale or enlightening thought to those also journeying along the narrow path of self-mastery. To everyone out there with This Cold as 2018 gets under way, Godspeed. Fluids.
Here's to a year in which more of us can relax and get under the sheets just...because. Because we feel the need to pause and the wisdom of it, because we honor the instinct that whispers "slow down," because we know that going slower sometimes ends up being much faster, because sometimes the voice that knows needs a little quiet space and time to speak, and because we love and respect ourselves enough to do what we need to do, no matter the opinions of others or our chattering, insane, and clueless inner critics.