Journeying through illness is like being in a foreign country. I travel to different places when I cross this treshold. Time shape-shifts and I take up temporary residence as an émigré. Perhaps when I am ill, my perception is altered and some of the veils which are normally present are tattered. And curiously, a veil may come between I and the person I know to be myself. There is a strange sense of dis-location, of being at once ‘here’ and ‘not here’.
“Now is the time of dark invitation
Beyond a frontier that you did not expect;
Abruptly, your old life seems distant.”
– John O’Donohue
Beginning on the first day of this year, for about a week, I found myself confined to bed in perpetual twilight; time marked by the waxing and waning of a strange moon as the day rose and fell outside the window.
The sky above seemed very far way.
In a gale-blown tree, jackdaws clung and bobbed like strange and heavy fruit. Then caught the wind in widespread wings, veering away to leave sky and branches empty once again.
Groping blindly, I sank between the white mounds of cool feathers, that powerful massif of bedding rising up around me.
Walked ridges of cashmere to meet the dawn
and traversed duvet valleys.
A wing of night came from the West bringing dreams of Raven, keeper of Wisdom and bringer of knowledge from the dark places within.
And when I slept: fever dreams, curious turns of logic and, again, dangerous visions.
Besides the usual symptoms of flu – fever, cough, headache, aching muscles and tiredness, my malady included anhedonia*. For the past month I’ve felt a veil between me and other people and the world around me.
My main preoccupations for much of the past few weeks have been reading and listening to BBC Radio 3. Mid-month, when I felt well enough to get the bus into work or to go to my volunteer post, I was polite as possible to people for as brief a time as I could get away with, before burying my nose back into a book.
Steve was mostly working from home and in good health. When I was bedridden, he was Room Service on our cordless phone intercom, keeping me nourished with the likes of fresh fruit and beef tea. Invalid food.
Snow came and went. I stayed up late one night to make a study of precisely how it covered the slate roofs of the houses over-by.
As it thawed, the windows kicked the covers off.
The snow turned to rain with dramatic skies and storms lashing in from the West.
Streaking the windows with long, wet fingers . . . .
One good thing about having traveled in a foreign country is seeing the familiar in a different way. Hopefully by bringing a new perspective back Home and having been away, finding a deeper appreciation of Home.
The month is ending with clear skies and the Full Wolf Moon.
I have nearly returned from my travels and our bedroom light is once again a rice paper globe.
* Anhedonia, n., the absence of pleasure or the ability to experience it, 1897, from French anhédonie, coined 1896 by French psychologist Theodule Ribot (1839-1916).