I get weird when I get sick. And when I get very sick, I go into some kind of altered state. I become helpless, like a two-year-old. Seriously.
I can’t think straight, I can’t function. My mind races in a kind of dream/nightmare/panic logic. I become super-emotional and have been known to profusely and tearfully thank people for being born, usually while lying on the floor. This can last for days.
But then when I take the very first step toward getting better, something beautiful and earth-shattering happens: I wake up from that mental state and look out the window into the world for the very first time. And it’s not the cliched “the grass looks greener, the air smells different” stuff, it’s more than that – I’m seeing the grass and smelling the air for the first time. The world is the same, but it is a completely new me, completely mentally reset after a few days in the wilderness. Routines are forgotten and my patterns have been erased. I re-invent them again in time, but for a few days I do confront and explore this world for the first time – everything is new, and none of my rituals have been invented yet. I don’t already know how or what I think about things – I have to think about them again, from zero. I have no preferences or predetermined structure in the way I think about anything. I have no ego because I don’t even know who I am or what the world is. I am outside everything, even myself.
This is a strange and wonderful gift. As a writer/creative thinker, it is ideally supposed to be the optimal permanent state. But as a real person living in the real world, this is impossible and often unattainable. Except for these odd days.
A few weeks ago I had strep throat, so I got to experience this panic and exhilaration again. I have re-embraced the world and re-invented my routines and rituals since then, and those moments are only memories now. But I hope those moments are not wasted or forgotten. I hope the inspiration of those moments can remain close and serve as a powerful motivator when I need it.
I resolve to keep those moments close in my mind for as long as I can in 2009 and beyond. I resolve to remember that all my routines and structures and assumptions can be dropped at any time because they are merely empty illusions. The world is bigger than my eyes can open. Everything is stranger and more beautiful and heavier and lighter than even the headiest head can take in. Even though the sight will blow your mind and knock you on your ass, you’ve got to look at the Whole Thing sometimes.
And if these memories fade away as they inevitably do, I can always get really sick again…