I’ve been down with a persistent cold for two weeks now. It got better in the middle, but it flared up again twice. I hardly get flus or colds, but this year this is the second time I’ve had a cold.
My chronic migraines tend to paralyse me with pain. With a cold, I seem to hover between almost being fine and yet everything seems to exist within a fog. I have trouble sleeping, because I cannot breathe and my throat is painful. It is a discomfort I am not used to, because what I am used to, is pain.
Two weeks is long enough to go through several stages where initially I was annoyed with the inconveniences of having a cold, then I was confident it would pass soon – I mean it is just a cold right – to being frustrated that it doesn’t seem to go away, to now: I am in a state of surrender.
There is almost a slightly positive connotation with the word surrender especially in spiritual or religious contexts. The reality is the state of surrender is often invoked when there is no other choice, so we can either go on fighting with no winnable outcome or we can gracefully surrender. I have become a very cynical person, so I don’t feel that being in a state where there is no choice but to surrender is a positive state, neither do I feel that living a life where we are just acting out another entity’s will is a meaningful life. But what I like about reading zen is that it doesn’t seek to associate words with a value, but rather it seeks to perceive things as what they are, not what they mean.
So I think being sick sucks, but yet I do appreciate how it strips everything away. The radius I am able to interact with becomes almost claustrophobically small, but this allows everything to become really simple. It gives me a clarity I sorely lack otherwise. My mind is usually in a constant buzz, but the fog of sickness dulls it down to a point where it stops haunting me, for now.
What is ambition, social status and all the things we think are important when there is no health? In the past I was often deeply resentful towards the failure of my body. Now, I appreciate that falling ill often has led me down a path I wouldn’t have walked on otherwise, the opportunity to live a life where I can no longer be distracted or numbed by external factors so I can take a long, hard look at myself.
Here, I am not sure whether I am spinning a narrative to make myself feel better. From my point of view, if I could choose again I would still gladly take this path over the other. But am I saying this because I didn’t have much of a choice so I am sour-graping? I am not that sure. But I know if I live long and well enough on the path I am on, I may have a shot at finally knowing how to be sustainably and truly alive, than to rely on artificial constructs that will only prop me up in short spurts.
Maybe one day, I don’t know, I am actually not that hopeful – my body will feel safe enough to stop falling sick so often, because I am no longer subconsciously harming myself, or unwittingly putting myself in harm’s way because I didn’t know better.