My sister-common-law (because my brother loves her and therefore, so do I, married or not) is in love with Jeff Goldblum. It’s cool to say that here because (1) it’s hilarious to me and (2) my brother is the one who told me about the celeb crush, so it’s not like it’s a secret or anything. Plus, I can totally get on board with the hotness of Jeff Goldblum– turns out, not only is he a fabulous actor in a million and one good movies, but he’s also a crazy amazing jazz piano player. Look it up. Good stuff.
One of my favorite Jeff Goldblum characters (besides the “must… go… faster!!!!” Dr. Ian Malcom in Jurassic Park) is Alistair Hennessey in The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou. He makes me laugh so hard… especially when he meet’s Cody, the dog, asks his name, and then instantly smacks him on the nose with a newspaper and says, super seriously, “Be still, Cody.” Even though Cody was already being totally still and well-behaved. It’s just so ridiculous.
And I thought about that two Fridays ago while I was home sick from work with a fever and ridiculous cough (I told you, Satan moved into my chest and was not about to leave) and spent the day watching Wes Anderson movies (!!) on the couch while texting my brother and sister. I thought about it because “Be still, Cody.” was going to be the name of my next blog post. My next someday blog post. Which ended up being a really long time away. Yet, here we are. Finally!
I really did get real sick. Don’t worry though, I say that with complete perspective realizing that it’s not like I was diagnosed with cancer or ebola or something real serious. I just mean that I got knocked on my butt by a nasty virus. For two solid weeks. Also by some opportunistic bacteria that took residence in my ears and caused a double ear infection on top of the viral crud. Any amount of walking (and I seriously mean any… like even walking-to-a-meeting-down-the-hall any) caused an unstoppable coughing jag, complete with gasping for breath and tears running down my cheeks and the whole nine yards, and it was two full weeks of that. I couldn’t do anything. I had to be still.
Don’t get me wrong, I totally love a little stillness in my life. I love to lounge around and read books without moving for long glorious periods of time. So long as it’s a choice, though. Because as the kitchen rapidly deteriorated and my diet of all cereal all the time became totally boring and the laundry piled up and Curly wasn’t getting walks and, and, and… the stillness got to be really out of control. But the fact of the matter is, I did not have a choice. So stillness it was. For two weeks. No cleaning, no blogging, no yard work, no cooking… just to and from work (also the urgent care), to and from bed (or the couch or the floor, I wasn’t picky for a minute there), to and from Walgreen’s (because I went through three boxes of Mucinex), and to and from coughing fits. Blech.
During the second week of my cold, Seth was in Miami. And as the dishes and laundry and cough drop wrappers piled up, I felt guiltier and guiltier. I really didn’t want him to come home to that mess. The evidence of my laziness.
Except, he told me on the phone, between coughing spells, that he really didn’t care. He was just glad to be coming home. To be with me and our pup. To sleep in his own bed (on which I promised to at the very least put new sheets). He really didn’t care. I was sick and I did what I had to do.
And what I had to do, for two weeks, was be still.
Like getting whacked on the nose with a newspaper, my cold made me practice some serious stillness. I did not love it.
Interestingly, at the same time I was coming down with this cold, I was also starting a local mindfulness class with my friend Emily. And although I missed a week (on account of the coughing), I am learning and thinking about how important some intentional stillness can be on a daily basis. There I am realizing just how hard true intentional stillness can really be. Different from the stillness associated with relaxing with a book on the couch, where my mind is anything but still. But true, mind, body, and soul stillness. If only I could have thought about that and given myself some of those blissful, yet challenging, minutes while I was sick.
For me, what it takes to be still is conditional. When I was sick, it was the cough initially, but ultimately the notion of just letting it going– recognizing my limitations, being patient with my lungs and my ears and my throat. In a moment of mindfulness, it’s a deep breath in and a deep breath out, sometimes a mantra (God is good… Always… Always… Always…). In moments of fury, it’s a relaxed conversation about something else that brings me to a place of good humor (that sentence is about this morning, 5 minutes chatting with Marie and I’m always better). Whatever the cue though, there is definitely something to be said for being still. Letting the rest go.
Even more to be said for not coughing. Thank goodness that’s over.
But most of all, this: