“Am I there yet?” a man asked, laughing, at the gate in the Halifax airport. Waiting for the first of two flights back west while succumbing to a head cold, I just wanted to hunker down in a dark corner. “Amen!” I thought. Am I there yet? Are the flights over? Is the head cold over? Am I ready to move back to Nova Scotia permanently?
No, I wasn’t anywhere close to there yet.
I’m thankful the head cold didn’t affect me until the very end of a warm and relaxing visit with friends and family in Toronto and Nova Scotia earlier this month—and, like last year’s visit, the trip provided proof that I had made the right decision with my SLSR plan.
Usually colds are a forcing function for me to slow down when I am too speedy or stressed. Since I was still off work for another four days, I kept asking WHY? What purpose did the cold serve me at this time? What lesson was there to learn? Was it just a case of shit happening—could sometimes a cold virus just be a cold virus? If there was no obvious lesson, I was determined to find something—even if it meant becoming more obsessive than I already am about avoiding germs.
Back west feeling wretched, I cancelled a vet appointment and a weekend Shambhala class. It helped to imagine that enabled someone on a waiting list to take my spot and fulfill some karmic thingy.
And sure, keeping my germs at home was absolutely right action BUT:
- Did I use any time for meditation? Did I use the illness to practice Tonglen for people far sicker than me (after all, it was just a common cold) or to contemplate gratitude for my usual health?
- Did I write thank you’s to friends and family I’d seen on my trip?
- Did I use any time to try exciting new minimizing advice I’d read about in The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up?
- Did I brainstorm my housing options for simpler living that had been keeping me awake at night during the trip?
- Did I read Elizabeth Gilbert’s new book on creativity that I received as a birthday gift? Did I write for this blog?
None of the above.
Since I felt I was taking one for the team, I returned to my lazy old habitual desire to just be d i s t r a c t e d. I did not want to be present at Point A, I wanted to be at Point B already. I felt “hey you Bodhisattvas and other good folk carry on without me, I’ll be over here with Netflix and social media and cat videos. For three days straight. Without feeling guilty. I’ll catch up later.” Head Cold: 1. Me: 0. Rematch: TBD.
References and related links:
- SLSR: simpler living semi-retirement.
- Tonglen: a Tibetan Buddhist practice to generate compassion, meaning “giving and receiving.”
- The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo
- Big Magic: Creative Living beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert
- Bodhisattva Vow: a formal commitment, in front of others, to aspire to be a Bodhisattva for the benefit of all sentient beings.
- TBD: to be determined.