careful what you wish for

So, back in the day before I had family business and young kids to attend to I liked watching movies. Or rather, I like them still, but I used to watch more movies than I currently do. I’d thought for a while it was sad my lifestyle was one that the consumption of film had become so limited; or rather, that if I chose to consume movies like I used to, I’d never get the house tidied or the kids loved-up or the husband attended to, or whatever.

So what’s up this last day or two, I’ve been sick and what’s hardest about this is accepting lots of downtime. I’m not very sick, but I do have a sore, congested throat that teeters on healing in direct proportion to the amount I slow down to heal. So I’ve been laying low as much as possible since Thursday night when after my bellydancing class I first felt the hot, tingly pain in my tonsil regions (which have given me occasional trouble since childhood).

I talked to a friend a couple weeks ago who said he had a total intolerance and lack of compassion towards those who are sick. I found his self-knowledge commendable but his attitudes very common and sad for lack of conscious change; many people I know can’t stand illness as it is a sign of “weakness” and weakness is, I suppose, a bad thing. This is a Suck attitude to have because sooner or later we do have weakness and it becomes tremendously distracting and accompanied with self-judgment and a bunch of other horseshit. I am a good nurse to those who are sick, and I know illness is part of the inevitability of a life naturally lived. As for application to my personal being, I think it was in Stephen Levine’s Buddhist non-fiction work Who Dies? I read – to paraphrase – that illness and temporary disability provide us ways to practice patience and most of all presence even when things we take for granted fall away from us. (The book was a good one; yet I had to slam it shut on the chapter regarding the death of small children – there’s only so much I can handle for my evening reading.)

So today while the kids entertained themselves and Ralph took me out for a lovely lunch and a hot toddy, I had my hand precisely on the handle of the ladies’ restroom door when I realized that I was truly going to devote myself to the helplessness of being ill. This means resting today, and not feeling terrible about myself for cooking and cleaning less or – for some reason this really bothers me – not sewing. I’d be well soon enough. Wait. Patience. And it’s hard, as I am someone who likes my work.

In my ass-time over the weekend I’ve taken the opportunity to watch a few extremely worthwhile documentaries*: Stranded: I’ve Come From a Plane That Crashed on the Mountains (2007), P.O.V.: A Family Undertaking (2004), and Very Young Girls (2007) (all these titles are available on Netflix instant view). It’s funny, these documentaries – as well as the aforementioned Deliver Us From Evil I watched a few days ago – are about some upsetting subjects and should be all bleak and depressing. Instead I found myself just amazed – amazed at people and how incredible they can be. And I don’t mean this in some sort of generalized Precious Moments way, I mean I watched specific people and wanted to find them or email them or touch them on the shoulder and say, “Wow, thank you for sharing your story. You are amazing.” (This is also a testimony to the filmmaker’s skills).

So perhaps I will take watching difficult documentaries more often, rather than my typical B-movie fare. It isn’t seeming to upset or shorten my life any further.

And yes, despite all this wonderful film I’m ready to get better and back up to kicking ass in the kitchen, etc.

Sophie writes me an email today:

“just so you know, i want to live on a farm out in the country with lots of animals and chickens with roosters.


So, there’s that.

* And some rather so-so television programs.

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