The Art of the Down Time

7 March 02012 (3 years ago)394 views3 minutes of your time

I’m home sick again today. This cold is really kicking my ass. It seems to be one of those really crazy illnesses that creeps up on you out of nowhere every couple of years — or less frequently, if you’re lucky — and sends you into spirals of frustration and guilt for needing to — literally — sit out on life for a couple weeks. Oddly enough, I recovered long enough to enjoy Disneyland for a few days. But the old body is making me pay for it now.

Thanks, body. You’re a real pal.

It has given me ample time to sit around and not only catch up on some television (can you ever really catch up?) but also to think and read and try and come up with some good content for this blog. All sorts of ideas wisp through my congested head and try to find some kind of footing there. For example, I could write about trying to process nearly two hours worth of vacation video clips into something watchable. Or I could write about a new idea for a story that I’ve had rolling around in my head for near-on two weeks now, and which is starting to gel into something interesting. I could also entertain you with some thoughts I’ve had on trying to get my mind around this whole blogging thing itself, an effort I dabbled in with a previous post, but didn’t nearly flesh out as deeply as it deserves.

Of course, what you get instead is a rambling non-post like this one — so that shows you just how truly productive I am when I’m ill.

Having down time is a kind of skill, I figure. Being sick takes effort. It is a force of will to shut yourself off from the duties of life and attend to just plain-and-simple recovery from whatever the ailment happens to be.

I went to work yesterday morning. I struggled through a few hours of answering emails, chatting with co-workers, attending meetings — and all while chugging back so much tea and cough drops that I probably reeked of chamomile and menthol by the time I tucked my tail between my legs and went home for a three hour nap. And I’m sure my co-workers were just being polite by not adamantly insisting I go home earlier and quit infecting our shared recirculated air. Yes, it was a little stubborn and silly — I admit — but there it is: being sick is a skill. It takes work. And I’m not good at down time.

That said, despite my inability to attend properly to my sniffles and scratches, my body has taken over the job quite nicely and I seem to be on the mend. Seem to be. Seem. The volume of various liquids I’ve been putting into my body today has now exceeded the volume escaping from my sinuses, and I can actually complete a full sentence this morning without breaking into hacking coughs. These are all good signs, right?

Yet, here I am, yearning for a day off — a day to do exactly what I want to do — but hating every moment of a sick day. Why is that? Because down time is an art. Down time takes practice, that’s why. And I — thankfully — haven’t had much of that.

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