Ironically, I’m feeling good today. Physically very ill, but emotionally so well. This time in isolation is finally giving me the opportunity to feel all the blessings which are so abundant I can’t even begin to recount them all.
This morning I was awakened at 7:30 by Don, the steward from my regular room, who brought me a beautifully-prepared breakfast of omelet, bacon, potatoes, and fruit along with OJ and a big pitcher of water. I wasn’t hungry since I’d just awakened, but I did go ahead and have the juice and fruit and a few bites of the omelet, which simply didn’t hit the spot. I’m doing my best to listen to my body, so I didn’t have any more.
I went back to sleep until 9:20 when Gerlinde called to see if I needed anything. She seems to have recovered from her bout with stomach issues – a couple of nights ago she had a pretty rough night with some intestinal issues. She hasn’t eaten much of anything in over 24 hours so she’s feeling a bit weak, but she’s planning to go into Manta with our friends Bob and Cynthia for a little bit to look around then come back early to rest some more. She looked like she felt pretty good.
She brought me some hot water for tea (Roxana had bought me some tea in Lima which I’ve been drinking. It feels good on my throat, which is my primary physical complaint today – my throat hurts. Thankfully my head isn’t hurting very much at all. Perhaps the prophylactic Ibuprofen is helping with that. I am fairly congested, and my eyes are seeping fluid, and I feel exhausted along with still having a fever then chills then fever, but that’s all OK…)
She also brought me a stack of books from the library’s give one/take one pile and a movie she had bought for me because she loves it so much. It’s about monks in Algeria who were often in danger because they are Christian but who still continued to do their work with love and compassion. I will watch it this afternoon if I’m up for it. Mostly I just want to sleep.
The last thing she brought me was a small red box with a big dark green raffia bow tied around it along with a note. The note is from Sarah, one of the people who works on board, letting me know that the gift is from someone in C’ville and that I’m to open it on Christmas Day. I presume it’s from Jane Thompson, the woman who got me this job. Tears began to flow down my cheeks at the thoughtfulness and kindness of that woman. She is like a fairy godmother, showing up at such amazing times to grace me with yet another kindness. The gift is now sitting on the other bed, always within sight to remind me of the great kindness there is in the world.
On this cruise, I think the most important thing I’m learning is about the incredible kindness that exists. I had posted on FB yesterday the opening lines from my blog – that I have the flu. This morning there were 29 messages wishing me well and praying for me and sending me healing vibes, etc. I could feel the kindness flowing from each of these kind people and again I wept. It seems like this illness and this time alone have taken away the veil between me and whatever it was that was making me feel insulated from others and from myself. I now feel attuned to the great cosmic kindness and love. Roxana and Iris and Pablo (her father) and Ivan (the driver) showed us such hospitality and kindness and open goodness, it gave fertile soil for these feelings to stream in now. It makes me completely thankful for the flu which finally has made me take time to feel all the goodness.
I have needed this time since I got on board. I have been running at a deficit this entire time. Now it has caught up with me, and finally I am getting to re-build some strength and awareness.
I was writing my morning pages and thought about my normal life – there I spent so much time exploring my inner landscape, noting the nuances of subtle changes taking place in my mind, in my soul, and, through PT and Acupuncture, in my body as well. I think what has happened here on this journey is that there are so many new impressions coming in each and every moment, that I simply cannot process them all. They have filled me beyond the bursting point. I think that’s why I keep getting headaches after a day on shore. My head is too full to contain everything. As I described to Chris on the phone one day, it’s like going to several new art museums a day and trying to comprehend everything I’m seeing after all that. It is exhausting and so stimulating and fascinating, but, ultimately, for me, I think, primarily exhausting. I don’t know how to do it differently yet.
Christmas Day I’ve decided to pay for a tour which will take us out of the city and into nature, to a spa with natural hot springs, in fact. Gerlinde is going to do it too. For all I’ve said about the artificial quality of these trips, I am looking forward to just that on this trip. I want someone else to take care of everything for me – transportation, tour guide, meals, and what I’ll see. I feel delighted to pay for that at this point. I just couldn’t imagine trying to figure out yet another city. I don’t even want to see another city. I just want to be out in nature and see something pretty and NOT man-made. We have only seen a few parks since we’ve been gone, and they’ve been small and inadequate. I don’t tend to think of myself as that much of a nature person – I thought I could take it or leave it – but my goodness, I sure am missing it here. I guess I didn’t know how much our house’s setting matters to me – seeing the birds each day, loving on the cats, seeing the deer, watching the trees change with the seasons. I feel more peaceful just writing them down here.
I have also signed up for two other tours to go snorkeling. That’s something I’ve really been wanting to do. One of the days I’ll also get to kayak for a bit beforehand. It’ll be wonderful to feel my body moving and to feel nature around me. I don’t care if I never see another city.
As I write that, I think about Chris’s and my recent rather obsessive pull to move to the country and open up an Artist’s Retreat type place. We keep looking at wonderful houses in the mountains, far away from the hustle and bustle of the city. We think about offering the peace and solitude such a place can offer to other creatives who need just that to do their work. Then I wonder if I should, instead, stay in Richmond where I can teach and show my work and be an activist more easily. I question what I can offer the world if I live in isolation rather than living amongst others. I offer a lot when I teach and when I am in activist mode. But it seems like I need to have a lot of time in between bouts of activity when I can recharge and center and discern what’s the next right step. I do not do well living a hectic life.
Perhaps my inner musings and acting on my inner leadings are what I have to offer the world. I think it’s probably true that I can’t offer very much when I’m exhausted and run down and have the flu and have a horrific headache. I am still tending to fight reality and am wanting things to be different than they are. I am feeling like I should be stronger and should be capable of doing all this, that it’s ridiculous that I’m so sensitive – others aren’t suffering like this – what’s wrong with me? Why can’t I do as much as others? Why do I get these headaches? What’s wrong with me? I am able to mostly ignore those very old voices and recognize that this is simply the way it is. I tried doing it differently – I tried ignoring my needs and my very clear directives that I needed rest, and my body responded very directly by giving me terrible headaches then, eventually, since that wasn’t enough – the flu. It will be a wonderful day when I finally learn to honor my own needs and to listen and obey my inner knowing. I woke up at 3 AM the last day in Lima with the clear directive NOT to go into the city that day. Then I went to the doctor and he told me I wasn’t sick – it was just the pollution – not to worry – to go ahead and see Roxana and enjoy the day. Gerlinde said something like, “See, isn’t it interesting how you responded to thinking you were sick, and now you know you’re not, so you’re feeling better?” I went through the day feeling mostly OK with just the cough, with Roxana and her mother asking lovingly and with concern how I was feeling. I told them I was well, just suffering from the pollution a bit. Then back on board I felt crappy but figured I’d get better once I got some fresh air. The next morning I taught and told my students it was just pollution – not to worry about my cough – I wasn’t contagious. I was so tired after teaching I slept the rest of the day til the doctor’s office was open. It was validating to find out that I was, in fact, ill, and actually quite ill. My body knew it. My mind knew it. I chose to ignore it because an outside source told me I wasn’t. My lesson in this is that I need to pay attention to MYSELF, not to someone else’s assessment of what’s true for me. I understand he wanted me to be well. I wanted to be well! And I wanted to see Roxana and Iris again – they were so incredibly kind, and I probably won’t ever see them again, ever. So perhaps it was the right choice to spend the day with them (though I sure hope I don’t make them ill). But it cost me. And it does each time I ignore my inner leadings.
So what are your inner leadings telling you, friend? What do you know to be true for you? What are you ignoring in yourself right now? What do you need to be doing differently so that you can live the life you’re meant to be living? Or, even better, which of your inner leadings are you following and how does that feel? What do you know to be true for you and what are you doing about it?
When I get home, I will take time to explore these questions. I want to try to figure out/discern what I can do to make a difference in the world and also to live a life of goodness and health for myself as an individual and, with Chris, for him and me as a couple. I have a set of expectations about how things should be, but they are not particularly how things should me for ME. Instead, they tend to be “shoulds” I picked up along the way which simply aren’t correct for me. Like for others, it’s my life’s journey to discern my own “shoulds” and not live my life trying to live into my interpretation of other’s needs or desires for me - that’s way too convoluted to work!
So now I’m feeling a need to stop writing and to rest a bit more. I hope you have a wonderful and blessed Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, full of the awareness of just how blessed you are and of how much goodness is in the world. I’ll be thinking of each and every one of you and sending you deep love and appreciation.