I FINALLY got one of those cool health problems that I always read about in my favorite old literature. Pleurisy! (an inflammation of layers of tissue that separate the lungs from the chest wall, which causes them to rub against each other when breathing and feels a bit like a knife wound) is something people would come down with in novels of manners and have to rest for a month, often in a coastal town where they could take in the vapors of good health. And I get it. When what I thought was a muscle pain below my pectoral muscle turned into a sensation very much like being shivved for the jailhouse snitch my dreams tell me I am, I woke up to a lot of concern.
I'm not the kind of person who goes to the doctor regularly. I'm not proud of this fact, but my lack of good health insurance and general love of staying home and being sick enough to eliminate a large portion of my "what could I do today, anything?" flow chart are very strong factors in my unhealthy homebody formation. But I was ready, first thing in the morning to go to the doctor. Lung pain? It's not something I ever remember hearing from anyone, ever. Except cramping after extreme exercise. I hadn't done that recently, and it didn't feel anything like that weezy ache and prickle. Was my lung going to collapse? That's the only other lung thing I know!
Luckily, my mom is a nurse, and immediately, (I mean in 15 seconds) diagnosed my symptoms exactly and told me it's normal, she gets them all the time, starting from when she was my age, take some ecotrin and get on with my life (for the record, this was extremely out of character for my mom's diagnosis style, which is usually a 1-3 day listing of what your symptoms could be related to. It's like a very repetitive, long and clinical-heavy episode of House MD). So, unable to go to a coastal town, I simply overate, read a very good sci-fi novel and took sweet naps.
Speaking of ribs, there's a Miranda July quote that has really been sticking to mine recently
"All I ever really want to know is how other people are making it through life. Where do they put their body, hour by hour, and how do they cope inside of it." - Miranda July
My body would tell me that the natural cycle of election coverage should be winding down after a hearty eight months or so. Of course one of the great nightmares of my life is that there will be eight more months in which the coverage will only be ramped up. It is like a fever we must suffer through for over 1/4 of our lives with not even a full three years to recover into reality. I find politics dehumanizing. It makes me feel like I'm reading the comments section of youtube. I am not one of the 19% who trust the government most or all the time. And most likely neither are you.
Don't worry, I'm not going to talk politics here. The only political topic I go to bat for is my right not to have to talk politics. Seriously, I've tried a few approaches but almost nothing can stop someone who wants (usually ignorantly) to talk shop. I'm not a big fan of manners or propriety in general because they separate people based on rules that are established individually, based on religion, class and race, but there is perhaps something to the idea that talking politics and religion can be quite a rude thing to do, indeed. Look at how openly people talk about the 1.5 million muslims in the world as if dismissing a wedding dress they think is ugly. Politics for the dawdling and ineffectual is an equally imposing platform for which to attempt to force control and create rules that quite simply tell other people how to live. Politicians are the kids who can't stop adding rules to who can come in the treehouse and when and what you're allowed to wear and do and say, and who keeps changing the password and the secret handshake, until eventually it loses it's luster and everyone including the enfant terrible moves on to the next thing, having squeezed the principle out of it like a bully salting slugs on the driveway.
I'd love to hibernate until 2017, but though I'm very good at sleep, the human physiology doesn't quite care for it. Instead I'll try and focus, like Miranda July, on all the parts of people that are interesting, that make me curious about the world. That can teach me or give me strength to face the day. Maybe as a way of explaining my disdain of politics I'll explain what I do like: other people's dreams.
I have so many times in my life been told, "dreams are like photographs, if I'm not in them I'm just not that interested." I personally can't imagine this lack of empathy. Dreams are a psychedelic sneak peak into the idea that there are things going on, even in individual brains that we are not in control of, and proof that each and every one of us is a story teller in our own right, a magician by many others, even if we are mostly the sole audience member. The real stance on dreams and photos is the stance on everything. When they're good, they're good, and sometimes they're not. Some people's dreams aren't interesting because you're not interested in that person. Some people's vacation slides suck because they went somewhere we were uninterested in, and only took photos of nature, or only took pictures of restaurants, or only took selfies and took them all poorly. Maybe the slides are not bringing up stories, and so like a bad power point presentation, they're telling you exactly what you're seeing, with an adept lack of detail.
BUT DREAMS. I mean, what an incredibly off-kilter world of weightlessness. When I used to write a poem practically every week and sometimes every day, I would often wake up in the middle of the night with a line that would turn into a stanza that would turn into a huge long poem. I worked it out in my dream! I've had ideas for songs (when I used to do that). Ideas for art or craft or gifts or just a hilarious nonsense idea. And I know that everyone has this chamber of bizarre secrets within them and I want to know how it affects the way they walk. How do dreams make everyone feel. Do they trick us into confidences, do they whisper in our ears like little big nosed Frenchman? Do they give us scars, from experiences we've only imagined?
I'm interested in the ways in which we can learn to relate to each other. I'm interested in the collective wisdom that exists like a library of dreams for those who have learned the impossible skill of silent listening. All the magic of the world can be shut out and missed by chemical imbalance, by chemical poisoning, and still you might have a dream (as I did) in the depths of a truly overwhelming depression where you fall in love with a cat, who morphs into a person and you walk through the supermarket looking for European jams and preserves, only the aisles are slip and slides. And though you wake up and the covers which were clouds and the mattress which was a flying carpet quickly transform back into human accoutrements I couldn't escape the feeling for 15 minutes that I had felt love again. And it was undeniable, how nice it felt, what a little gift my dream had given me.
How many loves have we lived in our sleep? How many losses? How many fears come to pass? There are so many beautiful and small human moments. There is such a wealth of wisdom in our ultimately repetitive history about the nature of man. There are stories that make all the poisons in the earth, water, wind and fire seem bearable. And they're human, they're local, and they're within the confines of empathy. Which is the only way out of any quagmire.
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