Tiny White Flowers

Tiny White Flowers

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Thursday Musings: to Flu, or not to Flu; thoughts on a small aspect of the human condition

So I'm here, not feeling great. Yes, I did get a flu shot - yesterday, in fact. And no, I don't feel splendid at all. I've had them before, but not every year. And the more I read about them, the more I feel convinced that avoiding the flu shot is the thing to do.

However, DH and I got ours yesterday. Neither of us can have the mist, one of us being over 49, and me with asthma, so the shot is the thing. We got them because our DS has diabetes, and keeping illnesses-coming-into-our-house to a dull roar is important. The only thing we haven't done yet is get the H1N1 shots. . .

Late afternoon I started to have trouble breathing (an asthma thing, but not so common for me in the past few months), and my heart was racing a bit. I wasn't alarmed, but neither was I comfortable. I figured it was either dust I'd scared up while looking for things, or a reaction to the shot. So I looked up side effects to the flu shot and found my symptoms under the rare category, and quickly went out to renew my inhaler. Creepy thing I read? Now don't quote me on this, look it up for yourself - but I read somewhere that if one has had the flu shot 5 times consecutively in the past 10 years the risk of Alzheimer's is greater. They think, anyway. Just what I need for enhancing my poetry!

Not at all.

Better today, but not up to snuff, as they say. DS is home sick, DD is feeling the twinges, and I have been, too. The doctors said yesterday that DS might have a mild form of H1N1, but that they didn't know for sure, what with everything else that is going around out there. He and DD had their H1N1 shots a week and a half ago - so not totally covered at this point. But, and here's me looking at the other side of the coin, better than nothing!

* * *

Anyway, I'm convinced that this is a weird world sometimes. Admittedly, I'm intrigued by what make people tick, and whereas I don't go in for the way out weird tv shows, etc, preferring PBS to most other channels, I do wonder about the strange things we as human being endure. The woman attacked by and chimp and unveiling her reconstructed face on Oprah. Granted, I didn't see that show, so I don't know how it went, but I do know that many folks have a morbid interest in the strange things that happen to others. At the same time, I find myself putting myself in the victim's shoes, imagining what the horrific experience would have been like. And this woman is the not the only one who lost her face to a chimp. I read another article yesterday about a man who was attacked by two mad chimps, and lost more than that. The fact that he lived is amazing. But at what cost? So it left me wondering about living through all of that, and the fact that he was initially trying to prevent further attack on his wife, with whom the whole thing started.

Morbid interest leads to questions: How does one person survive something like that, when someone else wouldn't live through half of that? What is a day in the victim's life like after the fact? What do we, as bystanders, feel collectively? Why do we feel compelled to seek out more information, when what's happened is so terrible we'd be better off turning away?

Is it curiosity, the thrill of seeing the worst, and thereby looking at our own lives, saying, "well, I guess I'm not so bad off, am I?" Or is it compassion?

Yesterday, Veteran's Day, and the radio and tv were filled with interview and tributes to those who've served in the past and those who are out there now, doing what they signed up to do. And try as I might, I have a hard time fully imagining what they've gone through. It's horrendous in so many cases, and in other cases there are men and women who've been gifted that odd moment where they become a shining star in someone's life by either saving them from peril, or someone dear to them.

Now, I'm not a proponent of war. But, it would be highly unfair of me not to appreciate the men and women who've gone into harms way to do what they feel is right and just for the greater good of others. There are countless people who give so much of themselves that they lose all self-centeredness and become a part of a larger body. It is when we get to that place, be it working to protect others from oppression or striving to find equality in each face we meet, that we, by diminishing as "me," yet growing as "we."

Now, I don't know if any of that made any sense, and I really didn't know what the heck I was going to write about today. It's just that a couple stories read yesterday stuck with me intensely. The stories about the man and woman attacked by the chimps, and another story about a vet whose vehicle was hit by heavy artillery and who himself was thrown (20) meters from it. His skull was crushed, he lost both eyes, and he sustained many other injuries. On top of that, he is one of many sufferers of PTSD. Living in such an environment where you have to be *on* 24/7, having to watch your back, exposed to a constant barrage of explosives, and seeing death happen over and over until you can't think straight any more.

We are an amazing species. Complicated, yes. But also, when we distill our essence down to its most basic form, full of the same simple needs. Love. Compassion. Connectedness. Included.

So, morbid curiosity, fine. As long as what we learn stays with us awhile, gets under our skin, into our hearts in such a way that we find the means to connect. And to understand that when the going's good in our own lives (and comparatively speaking it is, in lots of cases), maybe we can find a little something we can do for those who are having trouble. Sometimes, it's as simple as a smile, or a touch on the shoulder. A look directly in the eye. I might not know the half of your troubles, but my heart does.

* * *

I missed my Wednesday poem, but in lieu of that, here's a link to the New York Times HomeFires blog:


Have compassion. Be thankful. Do a little kindness today. And be well.

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