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, September 30, 2012

Best laid plans down the drain

Walking into the grocery store the other day, I saw that they have put these pumpkins out on display, a sure sign of fall. A couple of pigeons were wandering through, looking for something to eat. It was on Friday, and I was looking forward to a another weekend of sunshine and activity.

In the middle of the night on Friday I awoke with a sore throat. Uh-oh, I thought. I'm coming down with something. It wasn't too bad, but I had plans to go on the five-mile walk early Saturday morning and then go skydiving on Sunday with my friends. Not too many more beautiful days like we're having right now in the Pacific Northwest, with the rainy season right around the corner.

By the time I got out of bed, I knew I had a cold. Sneezing, aches, dripping nose, and continued sore throat. I grabbed the Zicam and zinc lozenges and figured I might be able to go on the walk after all. But considering the way I felt, it was obvious, even to me, that it would be a mistake, so I reluctantly let it go. Maybe I could simply lay around all day on Saturday and then Sunday I could go skydiving after all.

It's now dark outside on Sunday morning, and I spent a very uncomfortable night, even with Nyquil and Benadryl in my system. No way will I be venturing out of my comfort zone today. I'm really sick, but the sore throat has diminished and my stuffy nose (even with another dose of drugs) is enough to make even me stay down. I'm not very good at being sick, and I know that these things come to all of us now and then... but I fight it until I finally succumb to the inevitable.

So here I sit in the dark, laptop and tea next to me, this morning with the addition of tissues and pill bottles. Thinking of this post, I wondered about why I fight so hard against what any normal person would realize is just a cold, a short setback in an active life. What am I afraid of?

It's obvious that I cherish my active lifestyle and I guess I am fearful that if I let anything get me down, I'll never again be able to jump and play and walk with my friends. That what is happening right now is all I've ever get to experience, now that I'm sick. Advertisements on TV show someone looking like I feel right now taking some magical medicine and then looking perky and bright, no sign of being sick. Maybe that's part of it: I've absorbed the message that it's not okay to lay around letting myself wallow in misery.

I've had my share of illnesses over the years, and you'd think I would realize that nothing ever stays the same. Life is a dynamic process that takes us all from one state to another; nothing in life is static, as much as I'd like to forget that inconvenient truth. Even if I eat right, exercise just the right amount and keep a positive attitude, life's circumstances will just not hold still.

I am aware that there are people who are able to have a full life, even without all the health and vitality I possess in abundance. I'm sure that if I were suddenly housebound, I would find some way to continue to live a full life. But it would not be my first choice. Sometimes we are forced into avenues that cause us to become transformed, and it can be a positive direction.

Do you remember Maggie Kuhn? She founded the Grey Panthers movement in August 1970, after she was forced to retire from the Presbyterian Church. She had just turned 65, and she wanted to show that she was not ready to be put out to pasture. I found a quote from her that says it all: "Old age is not a disease. It is strength and survivorship, triumph over all kinds of vicissitudes and disappointments, trials and illnesses." She continued to be an activist for another 25 years or so.

I really like that word, "survivorship." It is an important concept to me, to realize that as I ride the waves, the ups and downs of life, that I am a survivor. I've made it through to old age and need to take the longer view. Pardon me while I blow my nose. Again.


Rita said...

Sorry you are down with a crummy cold. But you'll be back on your climbing, flying feet in no time. And whatever life has in store for you, survivorship will always win the day! ;)

Teresa Evangeline said...

And you are surviving beautifully! Feel better soon!

Linda Myers said...

I'm good with colds because I know their course and their length of life. Not so with injuries. I always expect to heal more quickly than I do, now that I'm older.

Feel better!

Anonymous said...

Just be grateful it is just a cold and not cancer or a stroke. I have been following a blog that describes the aftermath of a stroke. It's been quite a journey for her. Now THAT's survivorship!

Rubye Jack said...

I remember the formation of the Gray Panthers. I wonder if they're still an active organization. We need a PR agency to promote aging well and to let people know it can be a good thing.

Feel better!

Red said...

The other day my cousin had his 75th birthday. My comment to him was, "Here we are hurtling towards our eighties." We slow down but we also find things we can do. Cal is still very active in his music.
So get better soon and hurtle towards your seventies.

Linda Reeder said...

I have been fortunate to have avoided illness quite well since I retired. Working with germy little kids, teachers are always getting colds and flu.
I know what you mean about not wanting to be prevented from being active. I need to get outdoors and move too, in order to feel well and happy.
Get better soon.

Nancy/BLissed-Out Grandma said...

So sorry you are sick. Last year I bought the tea you recommended, and it did seem to relieve my sore throat. But the illness still has to run its course. I'm glad you reminded us about Maggie Kuhn and the Grey Panthers, and survivorship. Be a patient patient, and I hope you'll feel better soon.

Arkansas Patti said...

Aww, I am so sorry you are sick. It seems to be going around my northern tier friends--not here yet thank goodness.
I understand the frustration of being sick bay bound. Do take care and be well soon.

Bragger said...

I think I get annoyed when I get sick because some people CHOOSE to be inactive. They should be the ones who get sick, not those of us who try to squeeze every ounce of activity out of life that we can.

I hope you feel better very, very soon.

Gigi said...

I'm sorry you aren't feeling well. Hopefully this morning will find you better.

June said...

I'm glad you're being smart and letting your body get over the discomfort before you resume your buzzing hither, thither and yon.
And I hope you get over it soon!

Dee said...

Dear DJan, I look forward eagerly each Monday to the philosophical posting that appears here on your blog almost every Sunday. This one especially speaks to me because of the ways in which my life has changed as I've aged.

And yet with each decade has come some newfound realization about myself and the world in which I live--whether that be my own mind or spirit or the community around me or the larger Universe.

And you, DJan, have a way of capturing the elusive thoughts we both share and reflecting on them. I'm grateful to you as I myself am not much of a philosopher. You are. Peace.

Jackie said...

With the active lifestyle that you have, Jan, it is very understandable that you are feeling a bit down with that cold. Continue to take care of you...gargle with warm salty water (saline is one of THE best remedies for ailments of all kinds) and get that rest that you need.
Sending you get-well-smiles and hugs.

Haddock said...

Activity in the open is that one looks out for, especially for a person like you who is always on a trek. A common cold cannot tie you down:-)

Trish said...

You amaze me. S cold becomes a treatise on losing your active lifestyle. Don't think so. I envision you doing what you're doing till you decide it might be easier to do out of body! Feel better. No OBE for you for another 40 years!

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O-town Ramblings said...

I'm sorry to hear you were sick with a cold. I hope you're feeling better and ready to enjoy this weekend. I can't wait to hear all about it.

Maggie Kuhn is a hero of mine. It was a pleasant surprise to have her quote included in your blog.

Survivorship. What a word, it represents so many things, but most of all strength and not giving up. It sounds easy, but isn't at all at times.

CrazyCris said...

It's kind of funny for me reading this post right after reading the other one where you pushed through the back pain and did so many crazy physical activities! Modern medicine is amazing... but we are still all completely at the mercy of the "common cold"! (My dad's had a really nasty bug for the past 10 days now as well, not fun!)
I'm sure by now you're feeling better... just try not to think of all the trees you used up with the kleenex! ;o)