moaning michael stops by with clarity


It wasn’t serious.

Just a whopping sinus cold that kept whispering ominously in my ear “I think you’re getting sick” for a day or two until it cold-cocked me, knocking me down and out, and almost immobile for three solid days.

Sound sleep eluded me. Eating was entirely optional. And all the liquid in the form of tea and soup I had didn’t make even a dent in my hydration levels. My head felt as it if weighed more than the rest of my body and my teeth hurt. It hurt just to be awake.

And there was nothing to do. All my favourite distractions, in my condition, turned out to be only irritating. Books required too much focus. The computer screen light was too bright. Even watching Olympic events, as they happened instead of the replay, was less than satisfying and a good sleep would have been preferable.  But, as I said, blessed sleep was nowhere to be found.

Then came the stories.

I can’t afford to be sick. (How is my need for rest connected to a financial term?) 

I hate feeling bad. (Was I feeling bad about not working?  Or was it that the distractions weren’t enough to cover up the discomfort as usual?)

I wish someone would help me. (Seriously?  What did I want them to do? Chopping off my head to stop the pain would’ve been a long-term solution for a temporary problem but it did cross my mind.)

I hope nobody stops by, I don’t want to see anyone. (Yes, that’s more like it.)

Despite the epic whine-fest, being sick was extremely clarifying for me. As the brain-fog cleared, so did my mind mess.

The work to-do list now seemed more manageable. Concerns about family and friends fell into perspective. The free-floating anxiety about long-term options and plans seemed out of proportion and settled into an odd form of acceptance.

The time that I was forced to stop moving/ producing/ earning/ evaluating/ progressing/ teaching/ learning turned out to be a great way for me to realize how fast I had been going and that where I was going was nowhere important.

While I was sick, I was in touch with my body’s sensations; all things achy and phlegmy. I was aware of the self-absorbed stories that my mind was creating.  And there was no escaping the feelings that were coming directly from the plot lines I’d created.

Isn’t that presence? Mindful awareness? Isn’t that I want or say that I want? I guess.

Adam Cohen, in his song, Cry Ophelia writes “Pray for rain, but you don’t want it from a storm”.

Mindfulness doesn’t differentiate between comfort or discomfort.  Through both, it sits and notices without evaluating.

Mindfulness; the gift of illness.




the time for ‘out-waiting’


During the most recent Olympic hockey game, the Canadian women’s hockey team was playing Switzerland and a commentator complimented the Swiss goalie for ‘out-waiting’ a lone Canadian shooter to prevent a goal in a game where the Swiss were already down 3 goals to 1.  What a great concept!  Out-waiting.

Out-waiting: engaging in the essential pause.  A skill to practice.  A practice to repeat.

Can you choose to out-wait this moment’s distraction?  The fear?  The rage?  The attachment?  The dullness?  The resentment?  The desire? The complaint-on-the-tip-of-your-tongue?

Is there a lone attacker gliding toward you ready to take a shot?  What will you do?

Take a deep breath and engage the mighty “out-wait”.