After six days of a raging sore throat, I just forced a pot of coffee down my throat in hopes of forcing my body out of bed. I finally got sick and tired of being sick and tired. Even with the entire Criterion Collection on Hulu along with all of the delicious junk TV I watch, millions of YouTube videos at my disposals (I have been obsessing over news bloopers), Netflix, and Fandor (which is a high-brow version of Netflix with films I never heard of but are supposed to be super clever and high art), I have exhausted my ability to watch anything else.
I confess I am a terrible sick person. I almost immediately devolve into a whinny mass of quivering despair. A beached whale looks downright chipper compared to my flailing about stranded on the couch reaching for my iPad and throat lozenges. It is amazing how when I feel sick, I have no patience for anything else in the world. The other day there was an awful letter to the editor in our local paper from someone denying the reality of climate change. Normally I’d be all over that, responding with what I hope would be a thoughtful, efficient response that slices through the denial to the heart of the matter, but seriously I was too sick to care. Similarly there was some anti-gay Twitter mess happening right before my eyes, and I couldn’t even muster a single meme in response.
But that is how it goes, right? Who has time to take on the weight of the world when suffering is close at hand. Mine of course is temporary and a suffering that comes with the privilege of a home and healthcare and a partner and a housemate and food and medicine and digital media to get me through. And truth be told it felt good to drop out of the world for a few days even if I feel a little guilty about it. “I read the news today, oh boy…” Who in their right mind wants to be engaged in the suffering of the world and informed about the pain all around us? Where does one even start with earthquake victims in Nepal and rampant racism domestically?
Some of us have the privilege to get lost, to opt out, to disappear into our worlds. This is definitely true in the USA and Western Europe where many of us have a bounty of luxuries that are unheard of in most parts of the world. And sure everyone needs to take care of themselves, particularly activists, or else we will be worth nothing to the causes we feel called to pursue. But part of the work of the privileged is to stay awake, to stay tuned in, to listen, to learn.
Another part is to discern where we are called to serve. So many important causes tug at us. There are vital struggles all around us. Friends who are suffering. And at times I do want to run away to some fantasy world over the rainbow or on the internet and forget all about the swirling mass of conflict, need, and pain. That is understandable, but not acceptable. There is work to do, relationships to build, justice to pursue, peace to promote, and stories to be told.
So I choose to be responsible, to take the next small but significant step. It started with a pot of coffee because it is time to wake up.