I stepped from Plank to Plank
A slow and cautious way
The Stars about my Head I felt
About my feet the Sea.

I knew not but the next
Would be my final inch -
This gave me that precarious Gait
Some call Experience.

Emily Dickinson, c. 1864

Sunday, October 17, 2010


This Sunday morning I am sitting up in bed (as usual) with my laptop warming my legs as I write, but without Smart Guy in bed next to me. He decided to get up, since my coughing fits kept him from being able to sleep much last night. Same for me.

I noticed a scratchy throat early last week but didn't think much about it, since I figured it was my time to get whatever is going around, and everyone gets a cold now and then. This one started gently and made me think it would gently leave. But no, that's not what has happened. Some sneezing and congestion, but nothing to keep me from my workouts. By the time I got to Thursday, though, night after night with a sore throat, I stayed home from my usual hike with the Seniors. I really wanted to go, but I figured that six hours on a hike with a sick person would not make me especially popular. I stayed home thinking I was being smart and would bounce back quickly, like I always do.

Yesterday, Saturday, I woke feeling well enough to head down to Snohomish and join my favorite people for a couple of skydives in the sunshine. I really thought I was well enough. The first jump went without incident, so I packed up to make another one. This time, however, upon opening the canopy my right ear didn't act right and simply hurt. I guess my sinuses had enough gunk in them to keep my ears from equalizing the pressure. I landed and realized that I shouldn't have been out there jumping anyway, but I did think I was well enough with most of the congestion being in my chest. I made a mistake and this morning the ear is sore and complaining.  I don't think I did any permanent damage, though, and I had a good time with my friends. It's amazing how much difficulty I have staying home from skydiving when the weather is fine and my friends might have too much fun without me. I've got more than 4,000 skydives but sometimes I act like a newbie.

Last night I got up in the middle of the night, unable to stop coughing and went to the all-night store for some cough suppressant. Not only was I unable to get much sleep, but Smart Guy, who never complained and offered to go to the store for me, couldn't have slept more than a few hours either. I would have let him go instead of me, had I known what I needed. I was the only person in the store other than the guy at the register. Music blared overhead anyway, I guess it never goes away. After reading the labels carefully, I got what seemed to be the most straightforward option. Went home, swallowed the liquid and went back to bed.

Now I sit here, thinking that this must be the least interesting post I've ever made here. But it's what is on my mind right now: my folly and my illness. It's hard to think of much else when you're not feeling well. If it were not for my ear, the congestion, my croaky voice, the cough -- why, I'd be just fine!

I am not a good patient. Between whining and complaining, I overextend myself because of a belief that I am indestructible, which is not true. There's a whole lot of denial in my mental makeup, but it's usually invisible because I can't see what I don't acknowledge. I remember my paternal grandmother who disowned her daughter. Until the day she died, when asked about her daughter, she would say, "I have no daughter." Even when she was dying and Edith (her daughter) wanted to see her to make amends, she said no, she had no daughter.

I wonder if traits like denial and lack of forgiveness are inherited. I never spent any length of time with my grandmother, but she lives inside me, and I wonder about it. If I told you who I think I am, it would not be accurate, because I don't think any of us can see who we are except through the lens of our family and friends.

Or is that true? Is it worthwhile to look inside for the answers? If so, how does one go about it? That is what this blog is supposed to help me with, but I am flailing here, wanting to discover something about myself that might be unknowable.

I'll feel entirely different when I'm well. So here you are with my October ruminations.


charmine. said...

Hello,D-Jan.I'm back from my Europe trip and hope to post on my art blog soon...however there is a new post on my travel blog.

Sorry your sick today.Drink lots of hot liquids and chicken soup is still good for this kind of thing.Salt gargle maybe will help too.Get well soon and no,your posts are not boring.

I couldn't help wondering what made your grandma shut out her daughter and remain so till her end.Take care and visit our blogs if you can.

Gigi said...

I have done the same - denied that I was too ill to do something fun and then dealt with the consequences later. Apparently, the crud is making the rounds as everyone in this house is suffering from one to degree or another as well. Hope you are feeling better soon.

DJan said...

Charmine (and others who might be interested), I wrote about the speculation about my grandmother and why she disowned her daughter here. Nobody living today knows for sure, or they are not telling.

Anonymous said...

Our inner self is revealed in slow motion! We see ourselves as we think we were many years after. Then there's that nasty aspect of what others think of us. We bump into what others think on a daily basis. Now I know I haven't helped you but you've made me think for what that's worth. Look after yourself.

PeterDeMan said...

I've spent entirely too much of my life "looking inside," Jan. Your sister went on a long held back tirade at me several years ago that made me look real hard, and I didn't like what I saw; still don't. I keep trying to tell myself I'm only human, but that's entirely too feeble of an excuse. I will stop now.

Buz said...

For much of my life I have had a strong tendency to be much too hard on myself while being willing to forgive and forget just about anything in other people. As you know, I still have that tendency, but to truly see yourself through the lens of your family and friends is to allow yourself that same measure of grace, to be a true friend to yourself and not just to others, to also apply the golden rule in reverse. A willingness to overlook some of your own human shortcomings is not necessarily a sign of denial; rather, it can lift the veils and allow you to see a truer picture of yourself that is normally known only to others who love you, and to God.

But speaking of shortcomings, you typed “maternal grandmother” instead of “paternal grandmother.” ;-)

Jo said...

You're a brave soul. I wouldn't dare to sky dive even if I weren't congested. :-) It must be wonderful, though.

The next time you are across the border in Canada, pick up some Buckleys' cough syrup. It's the best in the world. Their motto is 'It tastes awful, but it works...'. And that's true.

I hope you feel better soon!

DJan said...

Thanks, Buz. I fixed that typo. And thanks for the advice, it means a lot. Oh, and everyone else who is commenting, like my BIL, thank you for your honesty.

Linda Reeder said...

Denial is not the same as not knowing. We can know, as in 'I am sick' and still deny it enough to go do what we want to anyway. We can know who and what we are and not like the sound of it in our own ears and shut it out. We can see our shortcomings in the eyes of others and not like it so blame the other instead, even to the point of denying their existance.
I would like to deny that I don't have a foot problem today, because I REALLY want to go for a destination walk on this beautiful fall day, but I know I can't because after a short time I would hurt too much to enjoy it anyway. And that's why I'm ruminating of this sunny morning.
Now behave yourself and get well soon!

Anonymous said...

Geez, DJan, why haven't you seen your doctor??? If your ears are affected, that's a serious sign. You better go! Maybe, you need an antibiotic.

Take care.

Norma Jean said...

When ever I was sick with a cold, I would do something that raised my body temperature (like a good long run). I felt it did the same thing as a fever helping your body fight off whatever was attacking it. It has been so long since I have been sick (knock on wood) I don't know if it would still work; but it always did then.

I, like Buz, spend way too much time looking inside myself and trying to figure out what makes me the way I am. I rarely wonder if it is something in my DNA, but I do tend to see a lot of how Mom was in myself. So...maybe.

gayle said...

I hope you feel better soon!! I've had a cough for over a week now and just when I think it's about gone it comes back!

You have me wondering now what do others see about me....what if they like me less then I like myself.

Grandma Nina said...

"Looking inside" is a hard place to go. I do this a lot more now as I get older. I sometimes see a lot I don't like. I guess our reason for being here is to try to change what we don't like and do better. The hard part is acknowledging what we see and judging what we see correctly. When we discover this authentic self we truly are in a better place with who we are.

Robert the Skeptic said...

I get terribly morose and depressed when I get sick. Not a good time to make any serious life-altering decisions. But you will get better.

#1Nana said...

I've wondered the same thing about inherited or learned traits...sometimes I catch myself being my mother! I think the perceptions of others can give you insight, but since they also look at everything through their own lens, you have to collect the data and interpret it. Others can provide the clues, but you still need to figure out the puzzle.

Isn't it smarter to decide the kind of person you want to be and try to live up to that? I'd like to be generous, kind and non-judgemental (also tall and thin) but I'm a work in progress. I still need to grow a few more inches.

Dianne said...

I do a lot of denial and struggle to push past that
my Mother was like that but we are opposites in every other way
my Granmother and I are very much alike except for the denial gene ;)

it's all very perplexing

Donna B said...

I too think you should get your ears checked by your doctor...especially because of your love of skydiving. I hope you feel better soon.

I understand what you mean about not wanting to acknowledge being sick and want to carry on as if you weren't...as if it will make the malaise go away...

I agree with Grandma Nina... going inside ourselves is a hard place to go. I have been told many times I analyse things too much. I'd like to think I act like the person I want to be...then again, something bubbles up from my genetics or learned behavior and if it is negative, I want desperately to erase it, yet be true to myself enough to own it.

It blows me away you have 4000 jumps to your credit. The fact you wanted to jump when you felt so lousy, shows you would rather be doing something fun or interesting than lying around sniffing and coughing.

Linda Myers said...

Everything about life looks bleak when I'm sick. I try to have no thoughts whatever until I feel better.

Hope you're on the mend quickly.

Whitney Lee said...

I particularly like what Buz had to say about affording yourself the same generosity of spirit you afford your loved ones. There's quite a bit of wisdom in that sentiment.

I hope you're feeling better by now. I had the same stuff last week and felt much better after spending a day in bed.