I’ve had a viral type illness for over 6 weeks now. It started with a vicious double combo of a panic attack and vomitting. It has persisted with bouts of light headedness, stomach cramps, excess tiredness and cold symptoms. And all of these exacerbated by a hair trigger tendency to an extremely anxious reaction to each symptom – I have to disregard the symptom as much as I can or suffer waves of debilitating illness.
There have been times when I have felt that I was going to pop my clogs. The relief that I was not was empowering. The strange situation where some days left me feeling supremely healthy – totally at odds to these symptoms – saw me driven to write in fluidly on my latest book. The difference between these oasis days and days beset with a struggle for health are enormous.
So frequent have my dips into ill health that I am treasuring just being alive. I am revelling in my writing. Sometimes, especially on these high health days, I get a writing flow that sees time evaporate by. I rarely have to rework what I write. But I always remember the feeling of good health slipping away and I drive on in celebration, the opposite of complacency.
Or at least this is what I thought.
But after a day and a half of feeling well, my memories of my ill health are almost gone. I start to fret about the trivia of daily life – should I have eaten that cake or will it add to my waistline.
This capacity to forget even profound things is mostly ignored by most people. They vaguely realise that the ‘flu’ they had last week knocked them outfor a few days, but are all too engrossed in today – they have moved on.
Of course, many things do plague us – emotional baggage drags us down all too often. But in this instance, I really really do want to learn a constant lesson from this bout of illness, assuming of course that does eventually go away. I feel determined to treasure each day. But I know that the process of treasuring will work with a memory that fades so rapidly, it very swiftly becomes only a vague echo of the urgent force that I want to remember it as.
Mothers give birth again because of the power to forget. And we get drunk again because we seriously distort our memories of the last time.