Friday night I was flattened by the flu. I did not see it coming but the signs were all there. I was racing between playdates and birthday parties with editorial deadlines swirling. I had not made time for many of the things that make me feel stronger like exercise and sleep, and then it hit me. All the running and swirling stopped and it was survival mode in the most basic sense. The silence was deafening after the frenetic pace of the past two weeks.
It dawned on me during a feverish early morning that perhaps there is a gift somewhere in this horrible virus. The second I got sick, there was so much clarity so quickly about what matters. It was not about commitments and timelines and engagements, it was about breathing and drinking clear liquids and listening to every need my body summoned.
I realized I was doing everything when I was sick that I ignore when I am healthy, in the name of productivity. Have a headache? Take some ibuprofen. Have an early conference call? Skip the morning workout. Have trouble sleeping? Drink more coffee. When I was sick, I was humbled by my inability to do anything besides exactly what was needed to take care of myself. I was too sick to power through.
I learned that I do not want to get sick again to appreciate the lessons of this week. All of the things I was worried about and working toward were so quickly put into perspective. I hope to carry the clarity of this flu with me into this coming week and remember that taking care of myself and my health is a prerequisite to caring for anyone else. I wonder why I have to learn this lesson so frequently. It seems it is a lesson in appreciation at the most basic and life-giving level.
From today forward, I am going to try to begin each day with a deep appreciation for my breath that comes without labor, my legs that carry me to new landscapes, my arms that embrace others the world over, and my energy and thirst to explore. These are all things that were suspended temporarily and that I now cherish with a new and unbridled appreciation.