An Epiphany

Adoration of the Wise Men by Murillo
Image via Wikipedia

Influenza has struck. This is day five in bed and having watched everything on iPlayer I have resorted to creating a post for the blog I have ignored for several months.

December was one long run of church services, lots of singing, lots of praying and lots of buffet food. This was followed by the quickest descent into flu I’ve ever experienced. One day I’m fine, thirty minutes later I’m in bed and haven’t surfaced much since. I think this is where the Epiphany of my title comes in.

Throughout my life I have lived in fear of being lazy. (Being terrible at handing in homework at a school full of overachievers will give you these strange complexes.) As such, I have the tendency to take on epic amounts of work and play, leaving myself no time to recuperate. Life is full of exciting things to do, places to see and people to connect with. My terror of being left behind means that I leave hardly any time these days for daydreaming, resting, reading, cooking or keeping house. I live hectically, lurching from one activity to the next. This is exciting a lot of the time. This year I’ve met new friends and been involved in great activities. The more I say yes to, the more people offer me. But I fear that there is a balance to be struck, and as I sat in the choir stall this Sunday, ill to the point of fainting and just about to do a solo, I thought very carefully about what had landed me there and the sacrifices I had made.

I sang the solo and it went well. Using every ounce of strength to sing from beyond my chesty cough, I pushed through and it sounded, despite everything, not too shoddy. Everyone was pleased with me. I was happy. I sang for my Bishop and my God. But afterwards, trudging up the hill to my house and up the stairs to bed, I was almost in tears. For those comments and those few moments of being told that I was ‘a good girl,’ not letting people down, and feeling a sense of achievement and, dare I say it, a little bit of a martyr, I had sacrificed my health. So followed three full days in bed, unable to reach over for a cup of tea. I felt, and still do, a bit of an idiot.

Today I hauled myself out to teach a student. The rest had been cancelled, but this boy somehow ‘deserved’ my attention despite my illness. Yet again, back in bed, the last of my energy sapped, I feel foolish.

My body is rebelling against too much. Too much of other people, too much volunteering, too much saying yes. It, for the first time in years, is saying ‘No’ because I won’t or can’t. This inability to say no has meant that other goals are pushed aside in favour of seeming busy, of always being available. My poor soul then is aching because all it wishes is for time for the stories that lie dormant under the surface to be allowed the space and fresh air to flourish.

Writing is the victim here. And writing is my soul.

So, the rest of the week will follow as it started. Quiet, bed, tv, books, coughing, grapes, lucozade and terrible magazines. And I am learning, slowly, to be grateful for this recuperation. This legitimate excuse to say ‘no’ to all the people at my door. I only hope that in the future I learn to strike the balance before my body takes such drastic measures.

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