I am sitting in bed with the world’s smallest cold. A sharp wedge of congestion has jammed itself at in at the root of my left nasal passage. If I had any work appointments this afternoon, I’d be out working them, but since I don’t I’ve declared a sick day for my self-employed self and put off all my chores.
I feel plenty sorry for myself. And yet I’m mired in contradiction, because if this were heaven — hubby and me ensconced in the amply-furnished studio apartment that we call the Micropalace, hubby at his computer, telecommuting from that patch of desk and floorspace that we have designated at his office, me cross-legged on the futon, typing away, occasionally scrambling for a hanky to wipe my runny nose — it would be enough.
Outside the window, finches are nibbling thistle seeds from two of the five bird feeders that my brother-in-law. our gentle landlord, has put up around the place, and a mourning dove has figured out how to get her fat body angled out of her own way so she can stick her face in the seed trough. Cloud and sun and even a splash or two of much-needed rain are playing on the foliage in the garden and beyond.
I can troll the internet for stories of the one percent and assure myself that I’m living a simple live inside a treasure trove of almost-top-of-the-line art supplies, electronics, fresh fruit, coffee, chocolate, and petrofuel. I’m still going to have a hard time pushing all this stuff through the eye of a needle, but others will have to shove even harder than I will.
This week, while driving between appointments, I’ve been listening an audiobook, The Lace Reader by Brunonia Barry, whose clairvoyant wise-women talk about the “still point” where “past, present, and future exist simultaneous.”
The novel also refers to the still point as “a time when your world shifts and heads in another direction.” A sick day is seldom so momentous, but it does feel passing a stretch outside of time. I experience a sort of mental blankness, a dimming of the impulse to organize memories into a timeline or future likelihoods into anything resembling a plan.
Then into this blankness floods a mostly electronic form of clairvoyance. My mother, on her road trip in the American South, is probably having dinner now after a long day of cycling, which included lunch at an Elvis Shrine in Euflora, Alabama. At least one friend is recovering from pneumonia, and I’m sure that many of them are sicker than or in more pain than me.
Quite a few are looking for work or enduring tough work situations. Two or three are currently at the beach. Some are raising kids, are studying, exercising, digging into projects, grading papers. Others, in distant time zones, are fast asleep. A young woman I don’t even know, who must have friended me by accident, is wondering in Spanish, “What is life?”
And me, I am sitting around wondering, at a low-boiling level of commitment, how I’m going to finish this essay. If you have read this far, I love you, and you are part of today’s little heaven. Maybe tomorrow I’ll have something better-thought-out or more societally relevant to say.