Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Sickbed (not death bed) Promises

I happen to be home with a sinus-head-cold-feel-like-crap kind of virus.  And whenever it gets bad enough, like today, that I call in sick at work and stay in bed, the same thing happens.  First I rest.  Then I give in to the impulse to get something done while the house is empty.  Then I start coughing and hacking and realize the day is shot and I haven't rested nearly enough.  Then I try to take a nap.  And that is when the bell tolls.  The deja vu bell.  That I've been here before having these exact thoughts.

You know, like "Why didn't I take advantage last week when I was HEALTHY and start on this presentation?"  or "Why was I complaining about achey-painy stuff when it was nothing compared to this?"  and the ever classic "As soon as I start feeling better I'm going to stop taking my good health for granted."

This is usually followed by a few sallow days of non-productivity, Kleenex over-usage and bad television or napping at work with my eyes open.  Then, God-willing, I start feeling better.  And the first day I wake up feeling human I drink a big glass of OJ.  I google which vitamins help your immune system and stop by Walgreens to pick some up.  I floss my teeth, dust off my walking shoes and I tell myself, "You are not getting younger and someday one of these virus-cold-think-you-are-dying things will turn out to be Something.  You need to GET your ACT to-gether.  Starting now." 

This promise to myself is genuine, even if it does feel like a tolling bell.  But in a week or two when life has attached itself to my adrenaline pump and I'm overwhelmed and understaffed (all wives need a wife) I start up with the same bad habits.  I over indulge.  I sleep late and get to work late. I slough off the housework.  I forget, my brain follows the same rut, and I forget my promises.  Until.  Until the next time I catch a nasty bug and am here.  Again.  Promising.

Today I see an analogy that I'm sure has been done a thousand times, but I'll take the excuse that I'm not well-read and use it anyway.  My usual life is like an automobile.  A car that you fill with gas.  Then you hit the accelerator.  And you don't stop, until the tank is empty.  When the tank is empty you wring your hands and say "WHY didn't I see this coming?  Why didn't I fill the tank with gas half an hour ago?  Why didn't I slow down for those stop signs and for that zoo and that antique store?"  I might have had a chance of my brain kicking in long enough to warn me 'Stop and fill up.'  But we all continue with this awful habit.  We push down to accelerate our lives and we add tasks and say yes and try to accomplish more in an evening than should be done in a week.  Then when we get sick (our tank is empty) we stop and wonder how we let things get like this yet again.  If I'm 50, I've probably had this talk with myself 100 times.  And I haven't learned a thing.

So today's promise?  Today's promise is to take ownership of the way I have chosen to subsist and to recognize it for what it is.  I don't have to drive myself hard.  I don't have to say yes.  I do it and no one else is making me.  No one else is putting that nutty bar in my purse.  No one else is 'forgetting' oops, my yoga mat one more time.  No one else is passing up the banana and apple for the Pringles.  It is I.  And I can continue down this path.  Its ok.  As long as I'm aware it is a choice I make. 

Colds will come and go for everyone and for me.  But this head cold is wake up call #100.  Slow down.  You move too fast....