So today I was planning to write at some point about how some very dear friends of mine are now engaged and how I’ve just got in from an evening hanging out with friends and doing that most important of activities – having a good time.
The Danish have an utterly awesome word in the shape of “Hyggelig” which, though untranslatable, can be roughly described as the warm, comforting happiness experienced when being with near and dear ones and having a good time. Think long summer evenings relaxing with your closest friends with your favourite drink and a beautiful sunset.
Unfortunately as I come in from this evening’s hyggelig I come to realise I have a runny nose and a raging cold. I had a headache earlier today and I’ve had a sore, rough throat all day but I didn’t expect it to turn into a cold. As soon as I sat down to write these words my nose began to run and now I sit here with a tissue bunged up my nose feeling very sorry for myself.
I’m reminded in times of illness just how great it is to feel normal. People spend so much of their lives trying to achieve greater highs and greater emotional euphoria but we forget how pleasant it is to wake up and be healthy and functioning until those things are taken away from us. Illness reminds us how great health is. Part of the pain of illness is the impatience to return to that wonderful, tantilisingly-close feeling of normalcy in one’s body and mind. The knowledge that I will wake up tomorrow with a blocked nose and a head stuffy enough to drown me is almost worse than the feeling of my head-cold right now.
But normalcy is great in other ways, too. For example – tonight’s evening with friends was little more than sitting around, having a meal out together, chatting in a bar and walking around the campus at night chatting and enjoying the warm breeze. There was nothing special, nothing especially notable nor rememberable and certainly nothing exciting or novel. And yet that in itself contributed to the perfectness of the evening – it was just all of us, relaxing and unwinding in each other’s company and enjoying the things we enjoy.
Being ill is a spanner in the works. It bogs me down with helplessness and fatigue. I was meant to try and get a lot of Russian done today and further progress that linguistic adventure but now I sit here, sneezing and sniffing, having done no work and yet not caring. I just want to go to bed. Misery is me.
And yet from this I know that there will come a day not far from now when I will wake up and my health will be restored. I will be jubilant in my return to normalcy and to productivity. In the meantime, though, all I can do is wait for the cold to leave my body. It always helps, I find, to think of things linearly. Though I am ill now I will not be by this time next week. Though I may be exhausted from climbing this mountain now I know that by tonight I will be tucked up in bed. Though I may be stressing over exams or interviews I know that whatever happens I will not have cause to stress in a day or so. Things that matter now don’t matter later – for better or worse.