Malaise

It’s rather incredible how quickly one can be overcome with sickness. I woke up Tuesday morning feeling vital, optimistic for a week of plans and progress. By nightfall I was shivering, sniffling, and trying desperately to sleep. Wednesday I spent roughly eighteen hours sleeping off a fever. Since the fever broke I’ve finished off two boxes of tissues and am setting record pace through a third.

And frankly, decimation of paper products is about all I have to show for four days’ time. Though my facilities, for the most part, returned not long after leaving, I went on as if they’d bid Adieu. Doing nothing is, of course, a favored pastime of mine.

The trouble with pastimes is they’re not pasttimes; they’re merely how you pass time. Or, in my case, how time passes you. And pass it has: three weeks, to the very day, since leaving the wonderful hospitality of Upton and returning, triumphantly, to Pawling. Save a slightly-expanded vocabulary and three or four rabbit trails, I can’t really say I’m much closer to answering The Questions than I was in Boston.

Which Questions?

Well…

What are you going to study? Where are you looking? Are there programs like that? How common are they? What do you want to do with the degree? Well sure, but be more specific? What’s the point? What’s your purpose?

State your purpose.

Frankly, I’m glad I got sick. No, not because I’m a masochist (though that’s debatable), but because whenever I get sick, I fall in love with being healthy. I dream of being able to do simple things — drink cold water, taste my food, walk without aching — and rejoice when those facilities return.

Sickness never lets you forget that you’re sick. It’s on every plate, in every cup, between every step, on every tissue, pervading every cough, echoing after every sneeze. It never ceases to surprise you with the vastness of its hold on you. And you think, “if I get through this, i’m going to make sure it never happens again.” Vitamins. Exercise. Scarves.

Look, it’s a cold.

And it took a cold, a sickness, a period of being unable to do anything productive, for me to realize that I’ve been sick and unproductive for much longer than the purview of any bacteria or virus. I realized I’ve taken the capacity for productivity, for living fully and rewardingly, quite for granted since being back. Something I was afraid might happen, but swore not to allow.

Something that getting sick helped me to catch before catching something truly lethal.

I wish I’d gotten to go to homecoming. There are some really awesome people that I’ve sucked at staying in touch with over the last year or two, and for all I know, this weekend was the last chance to rebuild those bonds before they broke.

So it goes.

But I’m looking forward to the week ahead: a chance to make good on the promises I made to myself and others, to charge from this infirmity’s gates with a focus and drive that had been fading. The Questions are coming, and I’m just thankful to have one more week to answer them.

~

A former me may have ended the blog there. He may even have tried to end on some series of short, pithy declarations. He would not, however, have continued writing here. He wouldn’t have said that this sounds way too much like another empty promise built on the back of providential epiphany. And he wouldn’t have committed to making this part one of three.

But I will. This was to let you know I’ve been sick, that I know I’ve been sick. Physically, sure, but the malaise I refer to in the title is more rudimentary, of the spirit. This weekend, I’ll address that sickness more specifically. And then, more usefully, I’ll establish the plan for a cure.

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