Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Up Early

So, what are the benefits of sleeplessness? I've been up since about 5:30 a.m. -- and I'm NOT a morning person -- probably the side effect of the powerful antibiotic, Levaquin, I've been on for the past nine days. It's clearing up my two-month-long sinus infection, but has its cost. I'm grateful for this drug but really wouldn't mind a decent night's sleep. Before Levaquin, I'd also been having trouble sleeping, as I've amply noted here, partly due to recurring congestion and trouble breathing, and now I'm at least getting through the whole night (or whatever part of it I'm asleep) without producing a damp mountain of kleenex at my bedside. (The kind with Vicks and lotion is my favorite -- addictive comfort.)

In the meantime, is anybody else finding it almost impossible to listen to the news these days? Just a few of the items barraging the airwaves: more elephants being slaughtered for ivory, the Tribune Company filing for bankruptcy, the Baltimore Opera going bankrupt, a fiery jet crash killing three in San Diego, worsening strife in Zimbabwe as a cholera outbreak kills hundreds, workers sitting in at their factory at Republic Windows and Doors in Chicago, the housing crisis hitting hard in Nevada, the auto bailout triggering hours of hot air, jobless numbers abysmal, and snow and sleet predicted -- again -- for my neighborhood this bleak December day.

I find myself simply turning off the stream. Stepping out of the river. Clicked off the TV last night during the elephant segment: I couldn't stand one more second of the horror of the piles of immense, brutalized bodies. Turned off NPR during the Zimbabwe report, even though Jimmy Carter's voice -- the true Christian, one of an international group of peacemakers called "The Elders" on the scene -- provided momentary reassurance.

So, I ask myself, contemplating my wakeful healing process, what is good about all this?

First, of course, I am lucky there are drugs that help. And I'm especially lucky I have health insurance to help me buy them. I'm well aware others are left hanging out there, unable to afford care. Isn't it time our society figures out universal health care? (Note to readers: Watch Sicko again: the Brits, the Canadians, the French all get it...why are we so doggedly compassion-challenged?)

Second, it is good to be alert to the world. Morning Edition has been running a series called "American Moxie" and I find the stories inspiring and encouraging. It takes moxie to get through this life. A galvanizing reminder.

I'm reminded of a time in my life when, mired in emotional pain as I left my first marriage, I tried to get my therapist to prescribe me a tranquilizer. She refused, contending that in my case, I "needed to feel" what I was going through. I never forgot her infuriating wisdom. In that instance, I believe she was right, and I'm grateful she was there helping me navigate those rough seas. By paying attention, by letting my body and mind deeply experience all the grief and doubt, I somehow began to heal and hope.

But now it feels as if the whole earth is quaking with troubles, and I find myself muttering, damn, let's just prescribe anti-depressants for everybody: drugs all around, Prozac on the house!

But it's not a time for somnolence. We need to keep our wits about us, and like those employees refusing to leave Republic Door and Window, we need to stay put, stay the course, feel what we feel, and let our resilience and dignity and hope help us find a way forward, looking for the open doors, making new windows to fresh air and blue sky.

Through a crack in the heavy green curtains here in my sitting room, a space I cherish and which makes me very happy, I see light is beginning to break. Time to feed the cats and start the day.


Cooley's Dictum said...

Very, very nice.

Reminds me of why I lurk around these premises what with my a non-poet type. But I appreciate prose and I'm envious of people who write well well.

This -- and Sam Cooke downstairs -- I'm jealous that you do this so well.

Cooley's Dictum said...

"...what with my being a...."

And as long as I'm making a correction -- Prozac? Nature's own -- homegrown herb -- is less harmful.

Macy Swain said...

Thanks, Cooley -- it's good to hear from you. Yeah, here's to nature's homegrown.

I've enjoyed your comments on Flint Expats lately.