Normally, I love getting to the end of my work week. I work long days and usually don’t have to work on Fridays, so when Thursday evening rolls around I like to meet my lovely friends out for some lovely food and a lovely pint or two or more to celebrate our successful paycheck-earning, bill-paying, pint-purchasing, dog-walk-funding weekday exploits – but not last week. I made my way home from work on Thursday feeling pretty off-kilter. Thudded upstairs and onto the bed, still wearing my heavy coat and shoes, feeling a bit on the wobbly side – heavy-headed, chilled to the bone. No pints for John.
From Thursday night to Sunday morning, I was a mess of feverish aches and pains, uncontrollable negative thoughts, and unpredictable bodily functions. Not only did I have to miss work and volunteering at South Central Elementary, but I had a massive list of things-to-be-done that simply could not be done. Uncomfortable in the most comfortable of beds, I took the opportunity to seriously contemplate my mortality and the fragile nature of my physical body.
Though I was far from death’s door, feeling the child-like helplessness of sickness was like having a silent discussion with Nature. She reminded me that I am a silly, gelatinous sack of meat, full of weaknesses and faults. Trapped in bed with daylight rolling like heat across the ceiling, I could see myself standing on the Atlantic coast, looking West. My vision curved around the horizon, through treacherous Appalachia, out across the plains and the badlands and Rockies, across the desert and into California, until I could see the Pacific Ocean in the distance, perfectly blue and sunkissed. And with a smile, Nature asked: “Can you even take one step?”
I can plan my grandiose plans, but I cannot always plan for good health. I can do all the sit-ups and push-ups I want and eat my veggies and brush my teeth, but a tiny speck of dirt can still bring me to my knees. Even on the Walk – especially on the Walk – I am at Nature’s mercy, and I have to be at peace with that.
The doom and gloom and aggravation subsided after a couple of days in bed (and a shot of penicillin in my hip) and I awoke on Monday feeling like someone had hit the hard reset button. As the systems came back online, I processed what had happened: 3 days. 3 days had been lost. And this was in the comfortably sooty cradle of humanity, with urgent care centers and drive-thru soft serve on every corner. I have counted down in months, then weeks, and now it is finally becoming days. Time is money and management and miles. Every time the sun rises and falls, Nature lets us know our worth.