“As if you were on fire from within.
The moon lives in the lining of your skin.”
― Pablo Neruda
I’ve been sick for the past five weeks.
Allergies and two infections (ears and eyes) turned my eyes into bloodshot slits that would make a reptile proud. I couldn’t see anything through that river of obnoxious goo. I couldn’t hear – my ears filled with fluid – giving the whole world the sound of being submerged.
I cursed the juniper trees outside as everything burst into early bloom. Pollen counts spiked and rose.
More miserable by the hour, I visited the doctor three times (urgent care, primary care, urgent care) and dropped $100 on co-pays for medications.
I finally requested ‘the big guns’ and got the strongest eye drops, antibiotics, and ear drops they had, which seem to have done the trick.
I can see the computer screen. I can type and think clearly for the first time in weeks.
I spent a lot of time in bed over the past month, staring at the naked branches of the trees outside my bedroom window, watching the moon rise, and the sun set. I watched stars poke through the inky darkness when I woke to take my next round of meds or go to the bathroom.
I was cranky and tired and numb.
I looked like shit.
Even in my current malaise and mess, I could choose to see it differently. I could choose to see the beauty of having down time, rest, time to think and reflect.
The fact of the matter is, I am lucky. I work at home and I set my own hours. If I need to rest or take a break, I can do it.
And I realized that even when I am confronted with illness, I can make a choice about how I think about it.
What didn’t I want to see?
In what ways did I stop listening to myself and others?
What did this experience reveal to me?
“Think of all the beauty still left around you and be happy.” ~ Anne Frank
If Anne Frank, who spent the final two and a half years of her life locked in the annex with only a slit of sky and one tree visible to her, could see the beauty still around her, surely I can do the same.
I realize I often push myself too hard, try to sit like a stone at my desk, grading papers and answering email, until I can no longer feel my feet.
That’s not good.
The wise voice – my higher self – knows: that’s not good.
I need to allow myself to rest.
I need to allow myself to feel.
I need to allow myself to let go.
And when I forget to love myself enough to take down time, to see where I am pushing too hard, or to recognize the ways in which I block out the sound of life in favor of ‘motoring through’ another day, my spirit gets heartsick.
Then, my body gets heartsick.
Then, my body gets ill.
And here’s another fine mess I get into, as Laurel and Hardy used to say.
So I am trying out a new life mantra, a new gratitude practice, a new mirror technique, a new meditation, to find the right balance between seeing too little and doing too much to the extent that I miss the beauty and simplicity of being alive.
Just be. Just live.
It’s enough, that.
And even in your coffee-stained pajamas with bed head and pillow marks on your face, you are beautiful. You are all right. You are perfect in your complete imperfection.
You are beautiful, just as you are.
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© 2017 Shavawn M. Berry All rights reserved
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