"It's not the end of the world," Eileen used to say when defusing one of my childhood outbursts. It was such a reasonable, true statement. Inevitably I would come around to agree, even if I was particularly wrought up over some personal injustice or unfair consequence. No, it wasn't the end of the world, it was just difficulty and suffering, and this too shall pass; which it did.
Over the years I've taken on a similar mantra for difficulties: "It's not an emergency." Unless life or limb is in danger, it is never an emergency. I bring up this topic because I have a cold and an ear infection and it feels like the end of the world. I have had some pretty difficult things to contend with this year and I'll be damned if this isn't the worst of it all. What is it about the common crud that brings out the most grandiose of self-pity?
I could focus on the downtime... movies, homework and naps. Yet I keep turning my attention to germs. My flesh is an oozing bundle of pathogens and I'm afraid it is written all over my face. I told the tech at the pharmacy this morning to sanitize her hands after bagging my Sudafed and Mucinex. I told Jon not to come too close, I was holding a full tissue and my upper lip was sweaty. Then I felt upset because he listened. "Well, sweetie, what did you expect from the man who listens to you so well in all other things?" I could hear Norm's voice in my next meditation.
It is one part sickness, and one part spiritual illness-- and that is my doing. I don't want to slow down. I don't want to miss work. I don't want to lose my humor. I don't want to not be present for my loved ones and experience the game from the bench. I'm not grateful for feeling the physical illness. I do not want what I have, and that is the problem. I suppose it is, at the least, a good lesson in a certain type of humility, which is having the willingness to wash my hands every single time I need to, like I've been taught, and not touch my face unless I've washed my hands immediately before-- and not believing that I am somehow exempt from the simple laws of contagion.
It could always be worse, and though it doesn't make me feel any better, I am grateful for that reminder. No, it is not the end of the world, but this is my first illness without Mom and it makes the usual lonesomeness of a cold feel a few shades too close to loneliness.
Another nurse commended me today for calling in to work tonight, and I am sure Mom would have done the same... but I would have felt better sooner hearing it from her.