For what it is worth, is it all worth anything at all? This is a thought that kept recurring in my feverish mind as I spent the past three days lying supine on a mattress dampened by perspiration, sick with the worst flu I am yet to encounter in my thirty six- years of life. I was incapable of walking five feet without feeling as if I had run six laps around a track and food was as unwilling to be digested by my stomach as George Bush is willing to let the world live in peace.
The sickness overcame me like a wave overcomes a surfer. Only this wave did not release me for three days. I was shopping at Whole Foods for some organic produce and other health giving nutrients. I noticed a healing tea that advertised itself as Immune Building. My wife had been coughing for the past week like a cat with a ball of dust stuck in its throat. I was feeling good but decided to purchase the tea, not only to build upon my already healthy immunity- but to share with my wife and hurry her recovery.
My wife was lying upon the couch when I arrived home. I could feel the house shaking from her whooping cough which refused to halt day or night. I put the grocery bags down and immediately made us a pot of the healing tea with the hope that it would bring forth not only what was advertised on the package (longevity, freedom from seasonal sickness, increased vitality and calm) but also- silence my wife’s cough.
I woke up in the middle of the night stricken with something that I knew would not let go of me without a fierce fight. In fact as the weighty hand of the clock moved forward in time leaving behind the decent health that I had previously enjoyed, I realized that this was going to be a fight I could not win. I could only surrender my ego’s need to survive and hope that my will to live would provide my physical body with the needed sustenance to prevail through the fierce waves of the coming storm.
It was Thoreau who said, the cost of something is the amount of life that you are willing to exchange in order to have that thing. While confined to a small bed the following day I was coherent enough to contemplate the deeper aspects of various superficial preoccupations that had been concerning me in my life- prior to becoming ill. I had concern for various material items that dominated such a large part of my consciousness. My car, finding a nicer apartment, getting a new laptop, buying newer pants, and making more money so that I could some how be free from the fear of not having money. All of these things were in my mind at any moment during the day. But what is interesting is that as soon as I became ill they all lost ANY value and ALL importance to me. They were no more important than the trash in my kitchen. The one thing that had any value was life.
We live in a society that is set up to rob us of life by convincing us that these things we need will give us life. But for what it is worth, are these things worth anything at all? They are a fiction, tomorrows trash, illusions of a life partially lived. They are symbols of a life that has been exchanged- in order to have “that thing $$$$$” which eventually is no thing at all. Sick and close to death upon my small bed, isolated from the quiet sanctity of wellness that I had felt just the day before all I could think about was whether or not I was able to leave all the relationships that I had in my life in good faith. Was I able to make people happy and did I allow others to feel as if they had contributed to my well being? This was the only thing that mattered to me.
I remember my grandfather telling me on his death bed that the only thing that matters in life is dying with the feeling that you have loved the best you can. Man needs time, he needs time, my grandpa would always say. I never understood until a few days ago when I was lying in my small bed with 1o3.6 fever. We need the time to learn how to value the time which is our life. The precious moments which are weaved together and create our day to day reality. I was spending my time over valuing my worries, my lusts and and all the other material things that I am made to believe I think I need. In return what I lose- is the time to value the people that I love.
I was not ready to die. I still needed to be able to tell my sister that I loved her with confidence. I needed to be able to share the deep love that I have for my wife with her. And on and on….My relationships were not at the level of a legacy that I wanted to leave behind. I still had work to do. On the second day of my illness I slowly said to my wife with winded breath, it is amazing to me how unimportant all of my regular preoccupations are to me right now. They are not even unimportant, they are meaningless. I just want to focus upon what really matters- relationships (how you are remembered). I then slept for the next day and a half.