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.
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!