Lessons Learned From the Flu


A note to subscribers:  Some of you received this post last Friday when I wrote it and, due to “lingering flu fogginess,” (which ought to be a recognized condition) accidentally published it ahead of the intended date. I hope you won’t mind reading it again. 
As I write this I’m in the ninth day of a bout with a nasty, feverish flu. I use the word “bout” deliberately. At first I fought it, insisting on attending a social event, doing a little writing, flying to North Carolina, preparing a meal for beloved relatives, and flying back to Florida. Thanks to a highly developed Warrior archetype, living in my head and ignoring my body, pushing forward, and toughing it out has always been my normal mode of operation.
But I’ve surrendered to the bug. I’ve canceled three workouts and three engagements, stayed in bed, and written zilch. This is decidedly abnormal. I rarely get sick, never nap or watch television during the day, always show up, and, above all, am almost always attracted to writing. Not this time! Thinking made my head hurt and the last thing I wanted to do was write.
Now that I’m feeling better my passion for thinking and writing is returning. And since I look for meaning and psychological reasons for everything, I find myself wondering what this enforced time-off has been all about. Here are a few random conclusions. (I don’t intend to sit here all day perfecting this piece. I’m pretty sure it won’t be long before the bed starts calling.)
Lesson #1: Giving myself permission to relax and let go of my agenda frees me from a burden of anxiety of which I’m usually unaware.
Lesson #2: My anxiety is nobody’s fault but my own.
Lesson #3: Missing a special grandparents’ breakfast at my 3-year-old grandson’s school will not devastate him or mean I’m a terrible grandparent.
Lesson #4: Daytime television is not a complete wasteland and allowing myself to enjoy it is not a character flaw. I watched some cool movies. I enjoyed them. Enjoyment is good.
Lesson #5: I tend to be a tad obsessive. (This is an understatement.) My head knows this but some largely unconscious needs still haven’t received the message. This morning I awoke from a dream in which I was trying to clean up some messes outside and within my house in preparation for an anticipated event. I was feeling guilty for not having addressed them sooner and annoyed that nobody else seemed to notice or care but me. I think that pretty much speaks for itself! Being sick for nine days hasn’t cured me of my perfectionism, anxiety, or tendency to live in the future.
Lesson #6: I’ve known this stuff for years, yet despite my inner work some issues remain unresolved. Still, I am making progress and this is a very good thing.
Lesson #7: I am human and flawed but my friends and family love me anyway and I am grateful for their love. I knew that too, but I must have needed a reminder.
Lesson #8: I don’t always have to be prepared several days in advance. I wrote this blog post in three hours!
Lesson #9: There are times when surrendering is the correct choice. This was one of them. Bye. I’m off to bed!

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0 Responses

  1. It is inspiring to know someone of your stature is not afraid to be human.
    There are days when I am inspired to be creative, explorative, focused on my passion of dream psyche. But there are other days when I must take time to relax, do nothing, be that lesser self and surrender to the demands of the ‘small ego’ without the fear it will some how lessen the power of Self.
    Like you I look for meaning and psychological reasons for everything. That aspect is the I AM, it materialized late in my life. But I realize I am more than just that. My everyday intentions need not fit in a neat package of strict creative endeavors. There is room for A&E, the History Channel, PBS, a Woody Allen flick, constructive ‘life’ alternatives to a regimentation a steady diet of mental fabrication geared only to the creative spirit. Because I do possess nominal abilities of brain function to engage in higher academic activities I must accommodate the lesser self in other constructive ways. Your ‘Lessons Learned’ inspires me to be the person that I am so to be the I AM I seek to be, without sacrificing qualities of ego that are beneficial to my being.
    And to perfect this imperfect being that I am. I work out 3-4, sometimes 5 times a week. A regimentation that has supported the lesser self for the past 30 years, long before I discovered Campbell and Jung. The goal is balance on all levels of being. I am working toward that perfection without having to be perfect. You are a great inspiration in achieving those intentions.

  2. Hi Jerry,
    Thanks for the compliment about my stature! Truth is, I’m getting more and more afraid NOT to be human. It seems like I’ve wasted so much time trying to be perfect that I’ve missed smelling a lot of roses along the way. But I’m making up for it now.
    And yes, surrendering to the demands of the ‘small ego’ is a good way to put how it feels sometimes –as if being human is capitulating to ignobility and being somehow “less than” being noble and “spiritual.” The way I think of it now is that I’m trying to listen to both my ego and the Self, and let them be partners in my soul work, while learning to develop a sort of third eye or objective observer that can tell the two apart. Perhaps this is the I AM you speak of: the inner partnership whose union creates a transcendent third. Sometimes I think the Self encourages me to listen more to my ego and my body, while my ego thinks so little of me that it’s afraid to take the Self’s advice! So then I need the objective observer to sort it all out and remind me that both sides of myself are valuable and deserve listening to.
    “Working toward that perfection [of balance on all levels of being] without having to be perfect” is an inspired way to say it. Thank you for that lovely insight.
    Thank you also for stopping by and commenting. You stirred up a lot of thought!

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