Disclaimer: I'm really, really congested today, even my ears feel like they're going to explode, so if my musings make little sense, forgive me, please. I'm living under mud, a mere hollow reed connecting me to the oxygenated world.
As the written word tends to elude, I've lost the beautiful thread that weaved through my mind downstairs just moments ago while I waited for my Gypsy Cold Care tea to brew and now I have nothing but a complaint and a head full of mucus. I got a cold for Christmas - no infection, no fever, mind you, a mere flesh wound and a constant desire to lie down. On one side of my tea bag's tag the all-caps slogan reads, YOUR CHOICES WILL CHANGE THE WORLD. To lie down, or not to lie down? Is that a call to test character or what?
And this is how I endure a cold: I rationalize it's existence.
Two days ago I was feeling low and tired, which I attributed to my stressed out emotional state. I'd been thinking too much on a subject I couldn't solve and as a result, and as a cause, I'd made myself very angry, which rides shotgun with depression, of course. So I blamed my low energy on the matter and asked the universe for help, because I could not quit picking the scab on my own. As soon as I believed I was helpless, relief came. And then I got sick.
With the subtlest onset of symptoms I told myself they would clear up in a day. As the symptoms grew stronger I told myself it was my fault, that I had been focusing on the wrong matter lately, that I wasn't putting enough joy into the world, that I wasn't spending enough time creating. As I began to make amends with my frustration and anger I could see that I was smaller than the issue, smaller than the larger world and certainly not larger than my perceived opponent, mute and deaf to my private battle. I was humbled to realize again what little control I had and it seemed the humbling had been bestowed very physically (and not a teeny bit un-metaphorically) by debilitating my senses at one of the most inopportune times of the year; I hope there is still cake when I can again taste. I am smaller than this cold. There is not much I can do to change it. As my in-house physician says, "a treated cold lasts fourteen days and an untreated cold lasts two weeks."
It may seem an odd way to re-discover my faith, through a common cold, but here it is, the distinct parallel I see. I know I caught cold because I breathed in or touched someone else's cold germs. Where and who and when I can not say. All the better for it, I suppose. It's just a cold; it just is. Wrong place and wrong time have nothing to do with it, though I can see a possible arrow pointing toward such an argument, that easy wisp of things just are is tempting and not entirely un-excercised in my personal journey. Maybe there's no reason for the cold, or my existence. It happened and here I am and I can only make the best of it, so I drink my tea and take baths with essential oils my loving sister lovingly made and drink plenty of juice and water and rest and try not to complain. I know it will end, that it's not forever, that I will get better. I know this not because I have a crystal ball but because I have faith in what I know about colds.
There has been a lot of talk about atheism in my corner of the world lately, and probably a broader circle than that considering the death of Christopher Hitchens earlier this month. I've been a sometime reader of his column, a copy ofNotes to a Young Contrarian sits unread on my shelf, "looking much smarter than me" and his recent work God is Not Great impressed me very little, the usual arguments for atheism were not written for me - I've considered them already. His public personality, in any case, appeared ready and resigned to death, which is more than I can say for a lot of "believers" and there's no discounting a lifetime of work, of creating, which he did expertly. I was atheist for a time in my twenties. I was also very lost and lonely and largely unhappy. The two are connected but I won't venture to pick apart "how" here. Instead I'd like to muse on the freedom believing has given me, the freedom of my own burdens, ofmyself, in not having to carry the full weight andresponsibility.
I'm a relaxed Type A personality, or that's how I see myself anyway. A friend recently told me, "your tone is laid back, but in your mind it's pretty intense." Control is a thing I work constantly to release (no pun intended). Believing, knowing, everything is going to be alright is the sweetest release from that need to control. Recognizing I am smaller than the world, the universe, this cold, that I don't get to dictate completely the way life unfolds or how people behave is the best argument against atheism I have yet uncovered. This is not an argument for Him or an organization or The Book. I am an unaffiliated subscriber to an energy much, much larger than my tiny, self-absorbed world. And because I know that, because my faith tells me there's something greater, I can, on increasing occasion, release myself from my burdens and enjoy the gift of being without the pain of controlling it. I can ask for help when I need it, and I can sleep at night, trusting it will all work out.
Christmas is a national federal holiday, with Madison Avenue at the helm. I love the food and gifts and family and traditions, the forced pause one day of the year. But what better time to consider the bigger picture, whether you include Christ or not, of our gift and trouble of existence, a faith that everything will turn out okay, that my cold will get better, with some time and help. I'll do all I can to heal it, all science directs me to do, but it's my faith and positive attitude that will make the trip, however miserable at times, worth being here.