Friday, February 21, 2014
So, there I was, watching the Winter Olympics from Sochi, in my second month of debilitating illness, already knowing that feeling sorry for myself was pointless, that feeling hovering just outside my awareness nevertheless.
I don't know what it is about nausea, but it seems to change all the rules. I want nothing more than to get to my keyboard and write my stories. When I need a break, I want nothing more than to slap on my skis and hit the slopes. When I'm sick to my stomach all I want to do stop feeling like that by any means.
And we all know what by any means means to an addict. I stumble into a meeting or three, stay as long as I can, talk to program people on the phone, and work on waiting out the illness. As we know, patience is not waiting; patience is doing something else.
My "something elses" involve listening to Audiobooks, rereading some of my own stuff, watching TV, petting my dogs, and when the Olympics are on, I watch.
Inspiration, that emotional boost that lifts you from despair and self pity back into hope and gratitude, was the medicine I needed, and in a series of events such as the Olympics there are usually several such moments. There are also lessons to be learned.
Yesterday, for example, I watched the USA women's hockey team crying almost to an individual because they earned silver medals instead of gold. I can only think offhand of several thousand Olympic athletes who would have killed to have traded places with them.
Yet, there I was, a moderately successful author, awards, over twenty books in print, living in a home I love, good friends, good program, no worries about money or employment, pissing and moaning because for a space of time I couldn't write or go skiing. The parallel was rather glaring.
Many years ago, a writer friend of mine listened to my bitching for awhile, then he said to me, "Barry, there are hundreds of thousands of writers in this world who would kill to have your problems."
I've said it before: A time is coming for all of us when we will be able to look back upon this moment right now as the good old days.
Another inspiring moment: Men's single figure skater Jeremy Abbot. The videos must be all over YouTube by now. Check them out.
Every Olympian goes through the same thing, especially figure skaters. Day after day, practice, working out, more practice, more working out, day after day. The goal, for most, is a gold medal. The goal for everyone is to do their absolute best. So there he was, his program before the judges just begun, he was going into his very first jump, and suddenly everything went wrong. Before he fell down he had to have known that everything he had worked for, all his Olympic goals, had just evaporated.
Then he hit the ice.
He landed on his hip and side with enough force to put most persons into the hospital. Everyone who watched was expecting his team's medics to run out onto the ice and haul him away. The inspiring part came next: Slowly, he struggled up, back onto his skates, his face drawn with pain. He took a breath, then he completed the remainder of his program without error.
Offhand I can't remember the names of those who medaled in that event. Every time I fall, though, or come up short in things I counted on, I'll have that performance of Jeremy Abbot's in mind. The medal he won in that event wasn't gold, silver, or bronze; It glittered quite brightly, though.