Ten Thousand Days

What if…

July 14, 2020

Photo: Emily Morter

Day 2153 – Day 2159

I’ve been feeling unwell this past week.  I had a surgery last year that went very wrong, and the error was undetected when they sent me home to face multiple organ failure.  The subsequent repair surgery was a long one that “sometimes doesn’t take.”  That potential failure looms for the rest of my life but is most likely to occur in the first two years, post-op.  And, even if it did take, I didn’t heal from it properly.  Last August, when I attended a family wedding, I was careful not to lift anything but I pulled my suitcase along the seat of my car and I ruptured my sutures inside, leaving me with a post-surgical hernia along the incision.  Add to this a deadly virus, and every time I feel unusual abdominal pain or nausea or I just feel generally out of sorts, I wonder: what if something is seriously wrong, inside my body?

The potential for hypochondria is real, but so is the potential to ignore the warning signs.  It makes sense to be cautious.  But, add the news of the world and the worry of losing loved ones who are sick with the virus, and it can flatten a person.

I’ve been sleeping a lot.  I know that when my body is unwell, it needs sleep.  I also know that when I’m depressed, I tend to sleep.  Being unable to do a lot of physical exercise, what if this sleepiness is the result of too many calories and not enough activity? What if I can’t tell the difference and instead of nurturing myself, I’m slipping into a clinical depression or co-morbid obesity?

I know that when I’m depressed, sleep will come as a comfort.  I will curl up under a cozy duvet and sleep for hours.  Early waking is also a personal sign of depression.  What has never been a sign of depression is a falling asleep in the middle of a sentence.

Right now, I need to lay down a lot to alleviate the pain and the nausea.  But this was worse last week than it is this week.  What if I had gluten or dairy and I didn’t know it?  Would that have caused my pain and nausea?  What if I’m falling asleep in the middle of a sentence because I’m de-conditioned and being sedentary and that is actually worse for me than risking making my hernia worse by choosing mild aerobic activity?

What if, what if, what if.  My mind sometimes goes around in circles.

I try not to watch the news.  I get the headlines and that is pretty much enough.  On the weekend, I visited a friend who watches the news all the time.  It put us both in a foul mood.  What if she never finds a job again?  We are both single and beyond the generation that swipes right.  What if we never meet anyone to love and to be loved by, again?  What if the border opens to the US and our curve spikes beyond our ability to cope? What if this is the end of the world?

It was a beautiful sunny day when I visited her in her waterfront home in the most glorious city in Canada.  Rather than want to go for a walk and enjoy the weather, all I wanted to do was to go home and lie down.

Today it is a beautiful day and later, I’m going to go for a micro walk around the block.  Tomorrow I’m going to do it twice.  I’m going to increase my time in the garden and I’m going to book a kayak rental for some time in the next two weeks.  What if it makes my hernia worse?  Oh but, what if I will feel better if I get active?  At least, in the case of kayaking, I will be doing something I love with every fibre of my being.

If I let it, I think this awful spiral of ‘What if” will kill me, long before anything else gets a chance.

I’m working on turning my what ifs upside down so that they are no longer limiting fears but are, instead, an expression of curiosity about possibility.  What if we are at the dawn of a great new world?  What if all this unrest and strife is necessary to bring about better understanding and turn back the tide of obscene concentration of wealth and power?  What if this economic slowdown ushers in an era of rebirth for the earth?  What if food shortages cause us to be more mindful of what we eat and how it is grown?  What if this separation and inability to connect makes us all that more grateful for the connections that we do have and makes us invent or return to old ways of connecting.  (When was the last time you wrote a letter?)

I’ve made an appointment to see the doctor and if I need to, I’ll see my surgeon.  I’m not hiding my head in the sand.  But, today is all I have.  Tomorrow isn’t here yet.  What if there is no tomorrow and I spent today worrying?

What if all the news of the world is just distracting us from our true nature and our birthright: a sense of bliss and equanimity, regardless of circumstances?

What if we can remember who we are and what truly matters?

Today, I’m going for a micro walk and I’m going to write a letter.  I’m going to make a video on another form of self-soothing to post on YouTube, even if nobody ever watches it.  I’m going to get outside and let the sun work magic on my mood and I’m going to water my garden and say hello to my fellow gardeners and maybe talk about the best way to prune the suckers from tomato plants.  I’m going to connect with the world and look for the beauty and the wonder in it all.

I’ve been writing about magic and miracles and about wanting to achieve my full potential.  Life is always finite and so very very short – whether the end of the world happens to coincide with the end of the life cycle of those who are living now or not.  This physical body has limits and it may be failing but it is also a gift and while I’m embodied, I’m going to use it well.  If the world is ending, I’m going to go out with gratitude in my heart, a remembrance of who I am and a connection to that thing that is greater than myself.

Photo: Lucas Wesney

For what are you most grateful, today?

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