Asthma, Books, Daily Life, Writing

The Possibilities of Language

It is Day 14,760 here on the blue-green Time Trap into which I flew forth from my mother’s womb in the autumn of 1975. Soon after, in a cosmic twist of irony, One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest gripped audiences at the box office and won five Academy Awards. On October 1st of this year I will have pulled borrowed air into this borrowed body for exactly 15,000 days, which seems like an occasion that merits some celebration if I’m still around by then.

I spent a lot of time talking with my kids today, trying to help them along with their schooling. One advantage to being home sick for ten weeks is that I’ve gained a greater appreciation for the challenges Sikki has faced for years, trying to juggle homeschooling, meals, and cleaning, not to mention her part-time job. While giving instruction to my kids I had to stop in mid-sentence all day and cough: talking is such a nuisance lately. It worries me because I agreed to speak to the young folks at church on Sunday.

I’ve been reading The Fault in Our Stars by John Green, a love story about a girl with cancer. It’s pretty famous and they made it into a movie. I wouldn’t say it’s knocked my socks off, though. On Sunday the pastor let me borrow his copy of the Journals of Francis Asbury, the famous Methodist circuit rider in colonial times. He rode a quarter of a million miles on horseback to preach all over the eastern U.S., and he was sick all the time. As the pastor handed the volume over he said, “Maybe you need to be a circuit rider like this fella.” It’s sitting on the shelf; I haven’t started it yet. I’m reading too many books at once.

I wrote for about three hours today – not including my paper journal and this stuff here – which is all the time I had before Sikki got home. The output was just one page, single-spaced. I’m really out of practice. It’s not like riding a bike: you forget over time. Your mind gets lazy. You stop seeking metaphors and thinking in descriptive terms. You have to work extra hard to coax words out in a way that’s interesting. Even my fingers have lost their memory. You have to get all that preliminary stuff down before you really start to consider the possibilities of language, the creative things you can do that are fresh and original and have never existed before because your voice is uniquely yours and no one else would do it the same way with the same perspective.

It’s been raining all day and I couldn’t get out to exercise. Maybe that’s why my lungs have been crap today. For the past several days I’ve been able to hit the beach to walk and run a bit, against doctors’ orders because what do they know. I feel like I can breathe better after I’ve suffered through something aerobic. I can’t just sit all the time. Coughing is not sufficient exercise. I’m turning into Humpty Dumpty over here.

It’s getting about time to bust out of this place.



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