The wonder of it

I’ve been out and returned since I wrote the earlier post and found myself thinking about it as I visited the supermarket and library. The nature of a blog like this is that it’s personal, particularly in my version of it. I’m not so interested in recording the quotidian activities of my life, though I feel obliged to note down some of it. I’m interested in the psychological journey – how I see and experience things and the evolving perspective along the way. The logical extension of that is a degree of self-absorption, if not navel gazing. It aligns with my nature also.

All of that is heightened when you endure a life-threatening condition. Though it’s terrifying, it’s also fascinating. To bear witness to the breakdown of your body and functions and then toil as they slowly, haltingly, patchily repair is a thing of wonder.

It’s astonishing to comprehend when so many simple functions fail. You live at a baseline and above it often, but abruptly, you plunge beneath it. How can you not see things differently when your experience is so radically altered? The elementary experience – and expectation – of living is turned upside down when your speech and hearing fail, when your muscles become frail and your consciousness fragile, and your ability even to taste fades, and eating is a trial. With it goes a sense of self.

It is a challenge, obviously, but it’s much more than that. You become your own biological experiment. A part of you steps back, probably by necessity. It’s like peering into a microscope and being exposed to a myriad of mysterious worlds you never imagined. But it’s you!

It’s my physical self that has suffered this damage. I’m sharp as I ever was and my psyche is healthy. It’s my body that has been attacked, and hence my focus on it. I had something malicious grow inside me. It’s gone, though it can return. To reclaim what was taken is a victory. Every sign of healing is a bit of territory I take back from this foe. To become robust again, to feel my swagger return, is defiance of a fate otherwise decreed.

There are many bigger and stronger than me, true even when I was perfectly healthy. There are certainly many, and maybe most, who are more attractive than what I’ve become. I may take that as a mark of achievement one day, but for now, the only way I know I’m winning is in my physical progress. It becomes an obsession.

Winter is coming, I know. No matter how much I regain, the mounting years will slowly erode. I’ll defy that too, but it’s more readily accepted. One thing that has changed is that I’m much more aware of my mortality and the mortality of others. I know, most likely, the day will come, and I know how I don’t want to die. I’ve seen enough of that.

It’s the sense of detachment that gives me the perspective of transience. Everything passes, as it has for thousands of years. What seems vital and urgent to us now will one day be a thousand years past. I’ve had an awareness of that previously – it’s why I chose to write, to leave a mark – but it feels more real. Less theoretical, more practical.

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