The Art of Getting Better

By getting better, I mean recovering from a cold or sickness of some sort, the kind of getting better that simple rest and fluids will cure more than any drug. This gift I do not possess. Impatience, guilt, and restlessness have thoroughly impeded my ability to bounce back from the simple cold I caught this week, and ballooned it into a week long affair. I think it takes a certain type of person to be able to do nothing, or the same thing, for protracted periods. I subscribe by the much used tenet “variety is the spice of life”  (whoever said that), and such philosophy nags at me during those times when I really should be getting as little variety as possible.

With my energy fully sapped and my mucosa leaking with contagion, I stayed away from work for a day to avoid contaminating my fellow colleagues. Unfortunately the work I wanted to do coupled with the guilt of not doing it overwhelmed my common sense and I trudged to work the next day. I lasted for two hours before I was told how terrible I looked, a fact which I couldn’t wholly disagree, so off home I went again. As if trying to send me a message, I got sicker, relapsing due to the effort of traipsing around the public transportation system for hours. Why is listening to my body so hard? Why can’t I take the initiative to admit to myself that sometimes it’s best to lay around like a slug. Especially a sick slug. I have some strange aversion to watching TV more than 3 hours at a time, staring at a computer more than 2 hours at once, or sitting in one spot all day. And even if I can barely move, I will find a way, even if that effort across the room leaves me panting with exertion. That is, of course, unless I’m told by someone else that lying around is the best thing to do, that getting better is most efficiently done by resting, and that any work done in a less than optimal state is nearly useless. Yes, I need justification.

I saw this firsthand yesterday when going over the results of an experiment I did while feeling lousy. At the time I thought I’d taken care and done everything right. I suppose if that were true it wouldn’t have ended up contaminated and all around odd. If you can’t do good work when sick, better to concentrate on feeling better so you can do good work, right?

Well if only it were that easy for me. The escapist reason is that I believe we live in a culture of super speed, where work does not stop for the contrivances of 9-5 or weekends. I could say that I must adhere to my schedule with religious rigor, working within those hours for what I’m paid to do, then working at everything else in the off hours. I think the truth is closer to the question I’m always asking myself. What does it mean to sit around? How do I actually do that? Even my so-called vacations are whirlwinds: flying, sightseeing, visiting, adventuring. I’m pretty sure the same people who said talked about variety and spice also said “there’s plenty of time to sleep when you’re dead” or “no rest for the weary.” I’m young, excited about life and possibilities, with the need to fit in as much as possible for fear of missing out. But as much as I’d like to learn everything about the world, perhaps one lesson is also to stop and listen better, slow down, be aware. I like what I do, but the stress of constant motion does sometimes put a damper on the experience. Maybe I have to realize that doing nothing can achieve something, and doing something can also mean nothing. Hmm, too zen?

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One thought on “The Art of Getting Better

  1. I definitely know where you are coming from. I have the same impatience on sitting still, watching TV, etc. I generally have to be doing more than one thing at a time which watching TV otherwise it feels like a waste of time so I end up knitting, doing homework, cleaning the house, or anything that prevents me from just sitting around. And it’s even harder when I get sick as I tend to want to take on larger projects like painting some portion of the house as I have the time off so I should make the most of it. Everyone always looks at me as strange since I seem to be this way but it’s nice to know I’m not the only one out there.

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