in Introspection

The Little Death

Kris has been in Colorado this week, undergoing some sort of top-secret forensic scientist training. I took the week as vacation. I had grand plans that I would clean up the yard, work on Kris’ car, whip all my web sites into shape, and maybe write a short story or two. I was also going to spend a lot of time with friends.

I took Kris to the airport on Sunday morning. I came home and wrote three articles about personal finance, and an entry for foldedspace. I went outside and cleaned up the yard. After an hour of work, I came inside to take a hot bath. But while I was soaking, I started to sneeze uncontrollably. When I got out of the tub, my nose was running.

“I can’t be sick,” I thought. “I just got over being sick two weeks ago.” No matter: I was sick.

In the evening, I went to our monthly Monday Night Football gathering. (Yes, you read that right: our Monday Night Football gathering now occurs once a month on Sundays.) Jenn and Jeremy hosted a family game night, and I tried to play along, but I felt like crap.

On Monday I had lunch with Matt. He spent some time giving me tips on how to improve Get Rich Slowly. I was eager to hear his advice, but my sinuses were killing me, so I left early. I stopped at a drug store so that I could get a bunch of sinus medication. Later, I met Mac in Wilsonville for dinner and a movie. I was miserable the whole time. (Though I must say, it was the most fun I’ve had at a movie in ages. The Prestige is highly entertaining, even if you guess the plot twists. It was great that Mac and I were nearly the only ones in the theater. We could carry on a low-level conversation without bothering anyone.)

I had planned to dive into web work on Tuesday and Wednesday, but instead I lay on the couch, wallowing in my illness, watching Seinfeld on DVD. (Great fun!) Outside, the rain came down in torrents. The sky was grey — almost black. I missed Dave’s election party. I struggled to write anything of any sort. My mood turned as black as the sky.

Basically, I wallowed in stuffy sinuses and self-pity for two days. This morning I woke feeling slightly better. I made a slow start to the day, but managed to make it outside, to talk with the neighbor for a while (as usual, he has lots of advice for trimming our holly trees), to take Kris’ car in for new tires, to spend some time at the library. I even managed to write a couple of articles.

But I’m exhausted tonight. I spent some time soaking in the tub again, reading Dale Carnegie’s How to Stop Worrying and Start Living. Worry dogs me, and I know it, but I don’t know how to stop. Carnegie shares the following quote from Thoreau:

If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.

I know that quote, and love it, but I don’t often act upon it. In fact, I act un-confident. I am afraid of social situations. But why? I never used to be. I love interacting with people of all sorts — friends, families, neighbors, strangers, colleagues, etc. “I thrive on social situations,” I told Mac the other night. “I know,” he said. So why do they frighten me so?

I’m also reminded of this litany from Dune:

I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.

Only I will remain…

Write a Comment


  1. I’m sorry to hear that you’ve been sick. Maybe some spicy Thai food will kick it out of your system. I’m hoping it works for me . . .

  2. Take airborne. I swear by that stuff. Even though in the fog of an oncoming cold I CHEWED the first tablet rather than putting it in water a la alka selzer (I’ll never hear the end of it from my family). I still think it works to kick the ass of any cold.

  3. Just remember what Yoda said…”Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.”