Thursday, March 6, 2008
Sometimes I forget my place.
Well, I'm alive. I'm recovering from an embarrassingly ineffectual battle against the latest version of the common flu. I haven't been that sick since I was a kid living with my parents (two decades ago). I ran a fever for close to a week with a peak temperature of 103.4. Not high enough to bring on the hallucinations and delirium of my childhood fevers, but enough to inspire small spells of bizarre behavior like repeatedly touching things on the bathroom counter. It was curious to be crazy enough to do that, but to be sane enough to eventually realize it was crazy. I ended up going to the doctor and getting a shot of antibiotics, a course oral antibiotics, an inhaler for my shortness of breath, and some wonderful codeine laced cough syrup that probably had high abuse potential.
Occasionally I get a reminder of how small and fragile human life is. Normally it comes when I see the ocean, get away from the light pollution and see the Milky Way sprawled across the night sky, or look out across the Sacramento Valley through the clear cold air at the snow covered Coastal Range after a nasty winter storm. This time was less pleasant. I was laid low by something higher up on the food chain than I am. We prey on just about every other creature on the planet. Viruses, to my knowledge, have no natural enemies, and we are their food and breeding ground. Thank God for modern medicine.
Probably the most frustrating part of being sick was the social isolation. I'm actually pretty close to being a loner in that I don't crave or (up for debate) need validation from other people. That being said, I'm very invested in the concept of community, interconnectedness, and interdependence. My wife and I were treated very well by those we know during this time. Many people brought us food but out of our desire to keep the infection from spreading, we had them leave it on the porch and we would pick it up after they left. Not much in the way of significant social interaction.
I've missed the interplay, the small course changes in plans or thought caused by interacting with others. Nudges in either the right direction, or maybe in the wrong way to keep me on my toes. I think better around other people, people to question my actions and assumptions. I guess the best way to describe it is that I'm more alive when I'm interacting with other people than when I'm off by myself for too long.