I would really like to stay in bed today, think I may have the flu. I have already made sure the dogs and cat have food and fresh water; just reminded Mom to take her iron and vitamin C, set her timer for an hour so she knows when she can eat breakfast. I’ve done what little yoga/p,t. my cranky cranky cranky hip would allow. I have weighed myself for the week, done my weekly “tarot” draw—is not the traditional tarot deck but a couple of decks I found in a local pagan shop that align more with my own world-view and embody concepts I am fundamentally familiar with/hail from my culture.
My card for the week (not necessarily to predict my future but more to guide and refine my response to the present day) was The Three Great Mysteries: birth, life, death. Around me, significant life events unfold. Perhaps someone I know will pass on or give birth. The last time I drew this card, my first service dog suddenly took a turn for the worst and had to be put down. It’ll be two years in a few weeks. Maybe she is on my mind more than I realize.
Not that this would be a good reason to stay in bed. The flu might be, though, and I hear that something nasty is going around out there. But I haven’t vomited yet today, nor yesterday now that I think about it. I have thrown up a few times a day since around the 4th so maybe my body is finally kicking the ass of whatever has been making the rounds. I ventured to the store yesterday and the checker looked like she should be in bed. She claimed to have been on the tail end of a cold, but her waxy yellow skin had the faint sheen of sick-sweat and I think she was kidding herself into believing she is healthier than she is. I know that game. I am a pro.
Think I am knee-deep in the middle of the game today. All of my small joints ache—hands, wrists, ankles, feet. My large joints are on fire, my left hip aches all down my leg through my thigh and calf to my heel. Ridiculous. Am exhausted and shaky, waiting for my second cup of coffee to kick in. Am now doubting this is ever going to happen but see no point in getting up for a third. Would have to get up, for a start. The three great mysteries may have to unfold around me today as I rest in bed.
Normally, I recite mantras to get myself going and keep myself going. I tell myself I’ve got this, even when the facts suggest otherwise. I tell myself if I take it slow maybe today won’t be a total waste spent in bed watching tv, embroidering eyes onto the little bees I’d crocheted yesterday. I am not falling for the pep talk today, though, and remain unwilling to venture forth into the world. Probably because I have been thinking too much this morning about the power of language.
My ex-mother-in-law was raised to think she was rich in what sounds to me like a very poor family. As a result, the first signs of wear and tear on anything signal the time has come for it to be thrown away and replaced. (I tend to use things until I have worn them into the ground, then find different uses for whatever is left when I’m done. I was raised to think I was poor in an incredibly impoverished family.) Mom, though, cannot stand to see signs of usage, makes her feel bad about herself and reminds her of struggles she’d rather forget (cue Alzheimer’s).
Thus the word “old” carries lots of negative connotations for her. Heaps of linguistic luggage for that tiny word. This normally isn’t a huge problem, except recently Mom has refused to watch some of her favorite tv programs because they are ‘old’. Even favorite episodes from early seasons of shows that are still in production get the cold shoulder from Mom. This could also be related to her desire for new programs of old shows—she seeks the familiarity of characters and sets but wants new plots. I get that. But when I suggest a show, ask if she wants to watch the older or more recent episodes, she wrinkles her nose and opts for the newer. Even if she watched them yesterday and strongly wants new shows.
So I started using the word “classic” instead. And this made all the difference. Now, early episodes of Murdoch Mysteries are funny again. The first 18 seasons of Midsomer Murders are no longer sneered at and passed over without second thoughts. And early Vera is engagingly complex not dated and grouchy.
With this, I am reminded afresh of the power of language. The words we choose to describe ourselves and the world around us shape how we see things, how we feel about them, how we respond to them. Are there words I can use today to talk myself into staying out of bed? Probably. But knowing what to do and how to do it are two very different things. And perhaps the greatest mystery of all is how to know when something is worth doing in the first place, when to act and when to rest. I think today, I rest.