Recently, I fell prey to some flu viruses. At first, I tried to deny that I was ill. I told myself that I was only very tired. I sat at my laptop trying to compose an email to one of my friends and realized that I couldn’t get beyond two words. My cognitive skills were taking some time off.
My body told me log off the computer, brush my teeth and go to bed. My mind still protested with the thoughts that the time was only 10:45 in the morning and that I had many activities remaining on the day’s agenda. The body won out.
I surrendered to the need to heal. This was a prime opportunity to observe myself at a primitive level. I was amused, and relieved to notice that many of my self-concepts simply vanished. The pigeon holing by philosophical bent, religious ideas, political fervor, nationality, and regionalism just seemed very irrelevant. Hunger for food and sexual expression disappeared. There was only thirst for water and a desire that the whole-body ache would go away. I tried my best to pay attention to the process. I knew there was something to be learned.
As I observed my “self” being dismantled, I noticed a strange sense of freedom in the midst of my, hopefully, temporary disability. When becoming more focused on survival, the idea of “living” means more than just a concept or word. The pain and beauty of living are upfront and center. It’s not just some dogmatic ideal. It’s not only some sort of belief. Life is not some sort of idealistic fairytale vision into which to escape. Life is there, in all of its organic suffering and joy.
If you are very observant and not merely self-pitying, you will notice your basic, primal connection with all of humanity and every single sentient creature. The time of illness can be a very valuable time. Don’t let it go to waste.
When you’re sick, you can acquire self knowledge. The kind of self knowledge you cannot get from religion, books, judgement, criticism, condemnation by others or oneself, or belief. It doesn’t matter if someone is with you or if you are by yourself. You can only acquire this self knowledge on your own.
It is only when you let go of your learned concepts and cherished ideals that you can be simple and primal. It is the only way you can experience the real. The only way you can experience the world as it is, not full of words, knowledge and information. You are given the opportunity to face your illusions and delusions at face value.
What is that experience like? I don’t have words for it. Whether you become ill or find mind stilling joy, pay attention to what you experience, but don’t analyze it.
The Blue Jay of Happiness likes to capture the moment.