I woke up this morning to day three of being sick. No end in sight. It’s funny how being sick changes the filter on our world. Suddenly preserving my voice has taken the top spot on my priorities list, and scraping up enough money for cough drops and herbal tea is more important than the electric bill.
I already can’t remember what it felt like to breathe without that sound in my chest. Is the need to hear it over and over part of my tendency toward compulsion…does everyone swallow this much when their throat hurts? Maybe.
It isn’t like a stomach virus, of course. I can still go about my day. A stomach virus will make everything else disappear entirely, until it’s only you and the sickness.
While driving to work this morning, I was feeling mostly pissed off about the cough that continues to shred my vocal cords. So I did what I always do when I am stressed, and distracted myself with some music. I recently discovered I can lower my heart rate if I listen to Rubber Soul. It must be the magic of comfort music, or something like that. It isn’t rocket science. But I didn’t put on Rubber Soul this morning, or Revolver (which is only slightly better, I think), because I wanted to be surprised. So I picked a station on Amazon Music, and hoped for the best.
This gets me out of my head enough to stop thinking about the phone calls I have to make, and to start thinking about how little I matter. The insignificance of a single life. Which, I know, is neither optimistic nor popular; but in an odd way it helps in the process of not caring about the burdens I carry, which are even less significant than me. It also makes death seem less interesting, but that is a lot to take on during my Wednesday morning commute.
Somewhere during The Beach Boys’ “You Still Believe In Me,” I begin to fantasize about driving past my turn. It’s a thing I have often imagined, even though I like my job. An alternate day, which is always within reach. I could call in and keep driving. I wouldn’t even tell my husband. I would drive without a plan, listen to music, and think about how nothing really mattering means I can’t technically fuck anything up. Which is true, for as long as I can avoid death. But even that was inevitable, right?
(All of our thoughts are daydreams. They are all over the map, making only partial sense, just like the ones we sleep through. Why did I write these down today and post them? To prove it? I know a girl who writes her night dreams in journals. She gives the journals as Christmas presents, and I will never stop laughing at this. I think I would like one as a sketchbook, though.)
There are rules on how to exist “appropriately,” depending on our specific bubble of civilization, but they are nothing more than a method we use to organize the chaos. Some people have religious rules on top of those. You can break them whenever you like, or they can be broken for you. Anything can and will happen; it doesn’t make a difference that we are due back in the office for a meeting (or five). The universe doesn’t care about our plans.
We feel good, we feel bad. And in the end, life isn’t about what we do, how we dress, or who we vote for. It is only about what we felt. What we experienced. Some of us want to amplify the good feelings into a loosely defined eternity. Either way, all of this will be gone and forgotten, but right now is right now. And how I feel right now is everything. No one else can feel it for me.
Most people tell me that kind of thinking is depressing, but I often think I am more thrilled to be alive than anyone I know. Happiness isn’t a situation, or an accomplishment of some meaningless standard. It’s a feeling. I only need an experience to change my world–and those are everywhere. I figure I’m better off for knowing this secret.
I turn left onto Route 9, because I need to finish payroll.
Maybe the other animals have it all figured out. None of this clutter in their heads about how to live in a more complicated society. Little girls attending tea parties grow up to become women who throw wine parties, because someone from their corner of the world thought these were the things to do. I want to roll my eyes, but find there is no way to do so without being a hypocrite. It doesn’t make sense, but it’s as good as anything else to do on a Sunday afternoon.
No, I can think of a million things I would rather do–but there is also the factor of who we want to spend time with. We can experience something real with people inside an imaginary world, and vice versa. I prefer the former over the latter. I show up for it every day because I am no different. And, I am no better or worse for questioning it.
(These are not words of wisdom. These are only fleeting thoughts I had while driving, because I am going to a winery with friends this weekend.)
Now I’m listening to “Mr. Blue Sky” by Electric Light Orchestra. I have spent a full minute thinking about people who call them “ELO” when it hits me that I didn’t cough even once during “Wish You Were Here.” I cough immediately. I don’t know if I like this song. There is an involuntary reaction to the chords my brain is attracted to, but the reasons are shallow. Mechanical. It might have complimented my current mood if the words weren’t so stupid; and it’s the first time I have ever bothered to notice.
Sometimes I wish I could see the world like I did in the beginning, when everything was still a mystery; before experience taught me the lessons I’m supposed to value, and demanded I find more meaning.
As I pull into work, I realize it’s the last day of the month. Shit. I should have written something for the Daydreams blog. I got nothing. I wonder if maybe I can apply all this wonderful meaninglessness to my hopes and fears for my kid…and of course I can. But that wasn’t where my head was this morning. Other days it is all-consuming, but not today. Funny how that works. I would feel great today, if not for this sickness– which by 2:00 will overwhelm me as my nasal spray wears off.
Right now Teghan is sprinting through the house in my shoes while I wait for the Sudafed to kick in. My husband is making breakfast for dinner because I accidentally bought more potatoes when we already had two bags. As if we needed a reason. It’s the last day of the month, and I just shared the strange random paths my brain took during my morning commute. Is that weird? Yes. Go ahead and judge me for it. Someone always does.
Does it matter?
Maybe it’s all the cough medicine. I’m just riding the ups and downs and feeling great–emotionally. Physically? Not so much. But this feeling of sickness, like everything else, is only temporary.