slowing down

Return of the governor cold

sick man in bed holding handwritten sign saying "I'm sick" I'm into Week #3 of the Cold That Would Not Die.

Admittedly, part of this is probably my fault: I pushed myself way too hard on Thursday and Friday, emotionally and physically. Sometimes you can't avoid these things; sometimes, you don't want to.

At any rate, it is an interesting thing, being forced to slow down so significantly, to find a setting (or be forced into one) between "full-bore" and "off." I walk, but more slowly and not as far, and only when I have the energy to do even that. I forgo my usual full routine of Nei Kung, happy if I can do just 10 or 15 minutes of Horse Stance. I take longer to do everything, it seems: brushing my teeth, finding the items I'm looking for at the drugstore, getting dressed, putting away my clothes. It is like being very, very young, or perhaps like being very, very old. It reminds me of being very, very sick, although thankfully, I know what very, very sick really feels like and I'm nowhere near that, knock wood.

I'm just...hampered.

Almost six years ago, I wrote a little item about how it felt: the "governor" cold, I called it. It was a way to reframe the annoyance, both to remind me that, compared to what I'd been through before, it ain't no thang, and to maybe make it a little useful to me. Which it is. I've stopped drinking coffee, and I'm actually going to bed when I'm tired. Remarkable.

I've also revisited my nightly "gratitude dump." No, not that kind of dump (although given my plumbing, I'm always grateful for a good dump). It's a kind of elaboration on the gratitude journal, where I just spill out thing after thing after thing that I am grateful for, until I've exhausted four columns on a page of my 8 1/2 x 11", college-ruled notebook. Some of the things get a little silly, like "roof" or "spiral notebook." Then again, if you think about it, both of those things are pretty awesome, and I have them along with four-columns-minus-two-lines' worth of other awesome things.

Partly as an outgrowth of my feelings of gratitude and partly out of sheer self-interest, I finally signed on with Kiva and made my first loans. (Thank you, Jason and Jodi, for the brilliant idea; it was the best I felt all weekend.

I did a few other, small things, too: got the last four installments of the newsletter posted to the archives, for example. Restrung one of my guitars to pass along to a friend, now that I'm done with it. (Don't worry, I kept the other one.) Cooked some meals. Drank a lot of weak tea and hot water with lemon. Got my hair did. And wrote every day, either longhand or in the Google Wave with Dave, downloading this crazy stream of stuff that starting gushing a few weeks ago. Maybe being sick is actually good for thinking? Dave seems to be going through the same thing, both cold and crazy-stream-downloading, so yeah, maybe.

Hopefully, though, it's just the slowing down that's doing it. Because I can do that anytime. Right?

xxx c

Image by skippyjohn via Flickr, used under a Creative Commons license.

Illness as meditation

oj smallI had a smallish chunk of communicatrix carved out of my shoulder yesterday. It's not a particularly alarming event; given I get more sun walking from my front door to the car than most of my ancestors got in a lifetime, these occasional hinky patches of skin are to be expected.

What is alarming, and annoying, and frustrating, is having the lines of my physical limitations redrawn so abruptly. Like any 'illness' that descends swiftly, there's no time to adjust from being the together, go-go me who can burn through a to-do list with amazing speed to the sad-ass gimp who is continually making adjustments and compromises to get by. Instead of just reaching for a can of tuna, my Quasimodo-pressure-dressing hump and I have to wait for my left hand to drag the stool to the shelves, step up and grab it, then hand it off to the (gimpy, for all intents and purposes) right hand.

One of the most annoying aspects to my five-month recovery from Crohn's disease was having to sleep on my back. (There was simply too much gastrointestinal activity to risk stomach sleeping.) Last night, my hump and I had to sleep not only on my actual side, propped up with pillows all around like a baby on a king-sized bed, but on the wrong side. Suffice it to say it was not one of my more restful nights, and was mainly filled with odd dreams of attending a veddy British country wedding, with lots of pomp and changes of clothes. What-ever.

On the other hand, the hump is a good reminder to see things differently. Of necessity, I must slow down. And it's prepping me for the even more annoying task of being almost better: while the hump comes off tomorrow, I still have to baby that shoulder for the next eight days if I don't want to rip it all open and bleed on the furniture. Having a governor preps me for driving without one, which is a good thing when your tendency is to live your life with the pedal to the medal.

So I'm going to an audition today as a meter maid with a hump; after that, I'll head over to the printers (slowly) and play graphic designer with a hump. I suppose later on, I'll see if I'm up to play humpy freakshow at the Trader Joe's, and figure out what kind of dinner me and the hump can put together without using the cast iron pans. (I don't know; I'm thinking scallops in some kind of lime, chile and butter sauce.)

And in between, or during, I suppose I should say, I will probably see things I haven't seen, and hear things I haven't heard, just because I've slowed down enough to see and hear them. With every move, if my experience so far is any indication, I'll appreciate the movement I do have so much more, just as when I was imprisoned in the IBD ward at Cedars, I relished the few hundred feet I could walk outside in the courtyard every day, rolling my IV stand alongside of me.

Audition. Printer's. TJ's.

Hell, they're as good as Disneyland, when you get down to it.


The governor cold

Wonderful blogger/artist Michael Nobbs posted a nice entry yesterday about swapping in his old, "manual" teapot for his busted electric one. Apparently, when it comes to boiling water (many of us on the other side of the pond are less familiar with the finer points of tea-prep), electric is better, or at least, it's faster (which most of us on this side of the pond are raised from birth to believe is better).

The additional heating time required by putting actual fire to metal is serving the unintended purpose of getting Michael himself to slow down. He talks about using the protracted boiling time to draw and think, thereby setting a leisurely pace for the day.

While the story mainly makes me want to go online and research the purchase of one of these super-speedy kettles, the beauty of the outside force stepping in to gently (or not so gently) remind us of summut or another is not lost on me. I've got my own governor right now, a smallish but nevertheless very real bug I woke up with a couple of days ago.

Ordinarily, my response to the governors in my life is to figure out a workaround: more coffee, usually, and a whole lot of pretending it isn't there. But the thing about a governor is that it's there for a reason: in the case of rental trucks, to keep a sedan-driving yahoo from trashing the goods; in the case of the human body...well, it's pretty much the same thing.

So instead of cursing my governor, I'm going to submit to it: move a little more slowly, go to bed a little bit earlier, drink a little less coffee and a lot more water.

Maybe I'll even crack open the sketchbook. I've heard it has magical healing powers.

Or maybe I'll just pull a pre-made JPEG to augment this entry. Shortcuts have magical healing powers, too.