Monday, November 14, 2011
Being Sick But Not Sorry
I've had a head cold for a few days now and might just have to go see a doctor if it continues. That's not very interesting, but what has held my interest this morning is my daughters' reactions to my being on the couch under a blanket instead of at work where I belong. That and my wife's reaction too.
The girls really don't care that much if their schedule is interrupted. My eldest walked into the den this morning, saw me sitting on the couch and gave me a look that said, what are you doing here? I told her that I wasn't feeling well and was staying home today. Oh, she said. And then she had other things to do. She's trying to teach the dog not to be afraid of the kitten. This involves a lot of talk-therapy, some leash work, and the occasional holding of the kitten near her face. The dog, I'm sorry to say, is not responding very well to this.
My younger daughter didn't even respond to my good morning as she was already on board with her sister's plan and was maneuvering the cat into couple's therapy with the dog. Now, as I sit on the couch typing, they are both running around and around the house while the dog keeps trying to come in and hide under my legs.
My wife, on the other hand, loves her schedules. Having me home is a bit of a nuisance for her. This explains some of why I'm in the den typing while she is going about her morning routine in the kitchen. I could sit in the kitchen at the table or make a cup of coffee, but I would feel her annoyance building. It's not that she's such a shrew (I feel like this is making her out as such) but that she simply abhors having her schedule in any way altered.
Being sick, however, alters most everything. Today, I won't be going to work which means that someone else has to teach my classes, that I'll have to figure out what went on, and that the rest of the week will be a little bit off. It will be a lot off if I don't get in there tomorrow. Even this post will be late today as I struggle to get it done at quarter to eight instead of my usual before seven writing.
More than all that, I tend to feel guilty when I'm sick. I've apologized to the people at work already, I'll apologize to students when I get back. I apologized to my wife and the kids too. Why? An apology should be reserved for times when I do something wrong. Still, being sick feels like I'm doing something wrong. That's a warped way of looking at life. Do I thank people when I feel happy? Do they thank me?
Part of being present in the world is to understand that most of life isn't good or bad, it just is. If I can accept that today I am sick and have been sick for a few days, then I can get beyond apologizing. The apologizing doesn't do me any good anyway. I'm not saying that accepting that I'm sick will make me better, but I know that fighting it won't make me better either. All too often in life I fight against what I'm feeling. I push back, I lie to myself, and I work against whatever it is. If I'm sick, like today, my first idea is to blow it off, go about my normal life, act as though there is nothing wrong at all. That way no one will be troubled.
I guess that in some ways I'm suggesting a bit of selfishness. I need to accept that I'm sick, that I need to lie still for a good portion of the day, that I'm inconveniencing my wife a little (but not terribly), and that I'll get better when I get better. Rather than think only of how being sick is a bad thing, consider instead that being sick is a thing that isn't bad or good. It just is.
One problem with being sick is that my brain is working on about 80% speed right now. I'm not sure if this has made a lot of sense. I would apologize for it, but it's just how things go. The problem isn't that I may have written a muddled entry, the problem would be if I was too sick to write at all. At least I'm well enough to put together a mildly coherent essay. At least I'm well enough to write on.
Posted by Brian G. Fay