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Ten Days Puny

Ten days I have been puny. As in 103 spiked temperature, followed by a long slow decline. The fever was a reaction to medicine. I recovered, fully enough to enjoy a writing conference in the Kiln. But the next week I spent more time horizontal than upright. Low grade fever. Constant headache. Abdominal pain. I finally decided it was a kidney stone, but who knows, really. The point is, ten days puny, and I was circling the drain.

I did make Thumb Prayers for the Mississippi Episcopal Diocese General Convention, but that was fulfilling a commitment I’d made when I felt well. Also, I read this amazing translation of Beowulf by Maria Dahvana Headley, but the grim (but funny) story suited my mood. And I revised a novel that I had started offering y’all for free about five years ago then abandoned.

But I palmed off repairmen on Tom, slept through a meeting I would have normally attended, and could not force myself to care about any of it. In fact, the angst was so great, about 7/8 of the way through revising that novel, I decided I simply could not take it. No more than thirty pages from being finished, and I wanted to give up. Not that the writing was bad, the message off, or the structure wonky. The trashiness of what I was feeling had seeped into the story, and I wanted no more to do with it. In fact, I decided it was time to quit writing altogether. Quit trying to sell that Mississippi novel, blow off Mardi Gras, give up on everything.

Then I woke up with no pain.

The change was instantaneous. I went outside and saw the wind had disrupted my Mardi Gras display. “The wind blew away the cheeseburger,” I said, and laughed out loud. I decided right then that I had discovered a new diagnostic mechanism: if I couldn’t laugh at life, something was, in fact, wrong with me. I had thought my attitude was the result of the painful rejection of my novel. A feeling of failure in my writing career. The conviction I would never ascend to the exalted ranks of published novelist.

All true.

But, once I felt better, I guffawed at the cheeseburger.

Here’s the mystical part. Sunday night, I led the Contemplative Writing Group I’m a member of. I had prepared my spiel about not feeling well. I would get everyone started then beg off and let someone else facilitate the sharing. Instead, I wrote. I stayed with the group. I experienced the joy created by the writing prompt. It makes me wonder: do I have cause and effect mixed up? Not lack of pain, so I woke up happy. But happy, so I woke up with no pain. Did that writing experience heal whatever was flattening me like an anvil?

Or maybe I passed the kidney stone.

Whatever, let us rejoice. My ten days puny are over. Enjoy the Jimmy Buffett tribute below. Happy Mardi Gras!

Night view of "Cheeseburger in Paradise" display with pink flamingos, neon sacred palm, and a big donut-like cheeseburger, that looks marvelous not that I'm not feeling puny
“Cheeseburger (or donut) in Paradise”

Contemplative Writing, Contemplative Writing Practice, when you are sick, writing as medicine

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