Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Feeling Puny

            Sick.  Feeling puny is how we’ve always said it in my family.  And I am sick.  And I do feel puny.  I have a sinus infection.  I just blew my nose and was treated to a thick glob of mucus and blood.  Puny indeed.  When I was young, I heard the phrase and I thought…yes, when you are sick you feel small, overpowered, belittled.  Now, I hear the phrase, and I think that I am always small.  That humanity is small.  We just have absurdly large egos. 
            Depending on your criteria, you could say that humans are the dominant species on earth.  We have destroyed and built many things.  We are not puny on the superficial surface of the world’s stage.  But we are indeed small and powerless.
            My sinus infection will go away.  But there are other germs and diseases which do not go away.  And they can strike at any time.  It is amazing that we are able to feel even a little bit powerful when we can be struck down with no warning.  I could wake up tomorrow and go to the doctor and find out that my sinus infection is not really a sinus infection and that I am going to die.  Not a happy thought.
            Our powers of self delusion never cease to amaze me.  Even though we know that sickness and death are an inevitable part of life…even though we have been witness to it…we can ignore it and go about our lives safe in the self-deluded knowledge that everything will be fine.  But we know deep down that someday things will not be fine. 
            I’m not saying that I want to go through life morbidly obsessed with my own mortality.  More than anything, I am impressed that our brains have the power to wrap us in such a thorough gauze of denial.  We take so many things for granted.  Our brains are our protectors.  They make us forget past pain and heartache…they fill us with false optimism.  And we don’t even know how the things work.
            I slept pretty much all day.  It is weird to be disconnected from the world.  When you sleep all day, you miss a lot.  And in between naps you have a lot of time to think.  And I have been thinking about the fact that something I can’t even see can make me feel like my head is going to explode.  I have also been thinking that next week I will not even be able to recall the feeling of my impending head explosion.  My brain will recall that it happened, but not the intensity of the feeling.  And thank goodness for that.
            I am feeling puny.  And part of the reason is because my brain is looking out for me.  It allows me to feel what I can handle.  If it did not do this, I would never get out of bed, sinus infection or not.  We are grateful sometimes.  For some things.  Often not until there is something wrong.  Today, I am grateful that I have a brain that can make me feel magnificent and puny with equal abandon.

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