Thursday, July 30, 2015
The worm turns
I have heard many times throughout my life, as I’m sure we all have, the bromide that surviving a major illness or an intractable disease has made the person appreciate his or her life for the first time, or with greater clarity. I have never denied that, but have never understood it at the feeling level. They really feel different in a psycho-spiritual way, awakening into a new world? But I have now suddenly, in a moment, developed an infirmity that is never terminal but feels life-changing, and something has indeed happened inside. And it is complicated.
Physically, there is a mild, omnipresent ache or pain and the knowledge of an ugly imperfection, and these bring me a sense of mild, omnipresent anguish. The anguish is delicate – ultra-sheer – yet terrible, almost end-of-life suicidal terrible. At the same time it seems to contain – not accompany but contain – its opposite: a vitality that may be escapist yet is real. It helps this problem to walk, and I am walking a lot, and briskly. This gives me a sense of strength and, from the slight euphoric momentum a bit of magical thinking that the problem may just disappear. That thinking contains its opposite: the knowledge that it will never leave me.
I am bowed, disturbed, moribund, energized, vital, quickened: I have written two of my most pungent and effective client advocacy letters ever, and done some of my best therapy, since the problem occurred.
I cannot tell if there exists some underlying psychophysical theme – transcendence and renewal? dread? gratitude? anger? pro-agitation? strength and resilience? – or only the complexity itself. But clearly in some way I have fulfilled the bromide.
Questions arise: Wouldn’t it be interesting if – to universalize my experience – we got better when we got worse? If there were something about extreme reality’s contact with the body’s brain that dislodges depression at some level, wakes us up? And . . . Aren’t many of the “awakened” normal folk, not depressed? What if anyone can be so changed? Would that mean there is a film that covers all of us, that crisis punches holes in, letting in the sun or a new dimension?
If so, what does this say about human life in even the best circumstances? Of course, I shouldn’t generalize. I only know that this disease has screwed me up for the good.