Creative Commons Licence Photo Credit anna gutermuth

I just figured out why I like being sick.

I admit, it’s partly the dreamy, germ-induced haze I’m enveloped in. It’s much quieter than when I’m healthy and thoughts are bombarding me like electrons in a quantum physics experiment.

I know, that sounds weird. But honestly, it’s a complete relief not to have to live up my rigorous agenda or perfectionistic standards. I’m just too weak and tired to give a damn. And frankly, it’s the most peaceful and relaxed I’ve been in a long time.

I realize it’s sad and pathetic to have to get the flu or a cold in order to cut myself some slack and just lay in bed already, but sometimes that’s what it takes. This time, it’s made me reflect on why I’ve been pushing myself so hard. It’s brought me in touch with the mechanism, mostly unconscious, that’s been driving me since my ADHD diagnosis.

Make that, LATE ADHD diagnosis. I’m still trying to catch up. When you’ve spent a lifetime spinning your wheels, then suddenly find a mechanic who can make all the wheels go in the same direction, you find there’s a lot of traveling you want to do before you die. You want to finally get somewhere.

It’s understandable, in our goal-oriented culture, and with my late diagnosis of ADHD, that I might try and produce as much as I can before it’s over. But at what cost? With my recent illness, a philosophical mood has descended upon me. I’ve been forced to slow down, and it’s made me realize how much stress I create for myself in wanting to run as fast as I can, to somehow catch up, before I die. I want that next book written, so I can go on to the next – and the next – because there’s only so much time left.

When I’m well, in the midst of all my busy-ness, I remind myself to breathe deeply; to move more slowly; and then I forget to do either for hours or days on end. Sometimes I have to bump into things and bruise or cut myself before I realize I’m moving too fast. But I keep trying to have an even, relaxed stride.

Some time ago, I bought a white linen pillow with a pale blue word embroidered on it. One word. It reads: breathe. I’ve placed it strategically atop my loveseat where I can gaze at it from anywhere in the room. Problem is, I rarely sit in that room. But that’s ok: I can still see it from the doorway as I pass by, running for the kitchen to turn down the heat on the pot that’s boiling over because I was caught up at my desk working and not paying attention.

As I sit here writing this, my glands are swollen; my eyes sting and my nose is running. I just want to lie down. I’m sick of burning up one moment, then having chills the next. But I wanted to make concrete this realization, about why I need to be ill to cut myself some slack. Through the fog of flu, I hereby determine that when I’m back to full health, I want to carry this calm with me. I want to stop the rat race in my head, just let the rodents run free! I want to savor each moment, so that whether it’s one book or 10 that I produce before the really big sleep – it’ll be work I’ve enjoyed through every minute of its creation.

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