That head cold everyone has been sporting this year finally caught up with me. I’ve been ducking it for months. Every time it came around the corner I hid, sure it would eventually give up and move into another region of the country. It’s clever, this head cold. It finally found its way into my body while my immune system was on sabbatical. I think it entered through the corner of my eye. For a number of reasons I haven’t been sleeping well. There has been an awful lot of eye rubbing and that spot is vulnerable; soft tissues, windows to the soul and all that.
I felt the head cold rush over me yesterday with the general malaise, the throat on fire, the constant sniffling. I tried to ward it off with garlic and apple cider vinegar and vitamin C but once it is in your system there is no going back. It cannot be weeded out of the body. It can only be endured. The body is treated with care; rest, water, juices, propped up head on pillows when the nose blocks up.
There is no cure for this common cold.
Today the head cold robbed me of my voice. I knew it before I even tried to speak. Even the air through my throat had no sound. The force of trying to get a noise behind the word I was attempting was laborious and even a little painful. I took the path of least resistance and so I am not speaking. I am only whispering.
There is something calming about this forced outward silence even though the people around me are as loud as ever I’m carrying this strange quiet around with me. This morning when the kids realized I could not yell up the stairs to answer their bellowed questions they’d come down to me to ask again. Each time the kids came to me with questions or problems I answered them in a whisper and they returned with a whisper too. The calm was contagious.
I may never speak aloud again.
Alright, that’s a false promise, I confess. It does plant in me a new idea, one that I am not entirely happy to admit. For as much as I complain about the loudness of my family and about my need for the silence I understand today that screaming into the cacophony can never silence the cacophony. It’s a good theory that whispering into the chaos might find me some sliver of calm, some crack in the crazy into which I can inject a little wisdom. All this time I’ve been trying to out loud the loudness, to slam down my mighty fist on the drama machine never realizing that I am not separate from the drama machine. I’m a cog in it as much as anyone.
And then I’m struck with the idea of “control.” Yelling louder than the thunder feels like control. Losing my cool feels like power. Becoming Mt Vesuvius feels like the all-encompassing final word…and perhaps it is. The question I find I ask today however becomes, “is that the final word I want to use?”
It isn’t really the final word though. In reality when I lose my cool and erupt the final words are actually, “I’m sorry” and “will you forgive me for losing my temper?” and hopefully “yes, you are forgiven.” And while these are good words, vital words upon which to end the scene I wonder today, in the midst of my virus induced vow of silence, what it might look like for me to be able to whisper into the chaos more often, to go there naturally knowing I have nothing to lose by leaning in, knowing that perhaps the whispering is the virus and the whispering is the cure and the whispering is the practice we need to keep our cool, to mellow the yelling, to soothe Mt Vesuvius.
It’s a good theory, anyway.