Satya writes: I am just recovering from being poorly.
I am terrible at being ill. I hate it. It’s not so much the achey head, swirling guts or snot, which is bad enough. It’s something more.
I’m always (slightly reluctantly) curious about the things that are difficult for me. They show me things about myself that I can’t see any other way. And when I can see these things really clearly, they start shifting and there is space for something new to emerge.
And so, this morning while I was doing my spiritual practice, I made a mental list of what makes it so hard for me to be unwell. It’s quite a list.
1. I like to be someone-who-is-productive-at-all-times. Being ill makes this very difficult. And so I feel guilty, even though I know I’m not capable of being productive when my head hurts.
2. I don’t get things that I want. I wanted my friends to come round for dinner yesterday – we were going to make two kinds of nut roast, and I’d been looking forward to feeding them and enjoying their company and eating crispy roast potatoes.
3. I feel suspicious of myself. Are you really ill, Satya, or are you just avoiding things or being lazy? Is it really true that you can’t clip the faded flowers from the hydrangea bush? I often end up trying to do the things I feel I ought to be doing when I’m ill, only to come in from the cold a few minutes later. Permission-to-be-ill isn’t granted very often.
4. I like to be someone who looks-after-other-people-at-all-times. Not so easy when I can’t even look after myself properly.
5. I hate being dependent on others. It makes me feel like I ‘owe’ them. I don’t like to put them out. I’m rubbish at receiving things, like the amazing dahl soup Kaspa made me, after he’d clipped the old hydrangea blooms.
6. Okay, here is the one that I think underlies all of the others. When I’m ill, I’m not in control. If I was in control, I could avoid this whole uncomfortable list quite skilfully and without even knowing it.
I’m self-employed and so I have a lot of freedom to decide how I do things, with who and when. I can pretend that if we’re not earning enough money or if something is happening that I don’t like, then it’s entirely in my control to change it. I just need to try harder/work longer hours/get the right advice…
When I’m ill, it’s really not my day to run the Universe. Most of the time, I think I manage to fool myself into thinking it is possible to be in charge. Of this little portion of the Universe, at least.
Being ill reminds me that I can’t rely on my body, or other people, or anything, 100% of the time. It reminds me of the things that answer to a different authority than me – other people, the weather, the germs happily swishing around inside me.
Although there is something that I can rely on 100% of the time. I can rely on my faith – some sense that even when things aren’t okay, and I’m feeling rubbish and guilty and out of control, that they really are okay. I’m learning what I need to learn, and I am being looked after. By Kaspa, by my friends, by my warm house, by the sunshine, by the air I breathe and the food I eat, by my body which is busy fighting off those germs for me… Even as I’ve been writing this blog post, two friends have texted to ask me how I am. I’m really an extremely lucky slightly-poorly person.
What do you find difficult? What is difficult today? What is it showing you about yourself? What bigger truth might it be pointing towards? Let me know in the comments. And go easy, get support, and do what I say, not what I usually do ; )
If you could do with some more support in your life, especially if you’re not very good at receiving it, I’ve just decided to run a Creative Intensive during March. This means there are limited spaces available for anyone who wants help in starting, continuing or completing a project – creative or otherwise. Read more and register here.
Germs by Rusty Russ with thanks.