Whatever capacity I thought I possessed to see – or to unveil – the happiness of life has vanished in an instant! In the throes of a so-called common cold I have by comparison discovered that being ill takes the fun out of everything. More significantly it would appear that my alleged talent if any was nothing more than my particular mode of expression; and that the substance of happiness isn’t at all my skill to reveal it. In fact it merely comes with the territory – namely, feel good, see good!
The more depressing realization is that the birds, the bees and the trees are nowhere near sensible when one is ill. One may as well regard a grey pool of water as pretend to see anything stimulating of any accord in anything. Everything is turned on its head when one is ill. It is only that I have today partially recovered my well-being that I have any inclination at all for the wonder of life. If ever there were a case against the mind-body dichotomy this is it! From what I have seen during the past several days during my illness, the nexus of the two is impossible to split. Astonishingly the thrill of poetry and imagination is likewise inseparable from the mind that houses the influence. Take one down, the other goes down with it!
To my credit I have lately responded to my erstwhile habits and yearnings – in particular bicycling and swimming both of which I thankfully succeeded to do today. Had I not I am certain I would have gone stir-crazy. After only one day yesterday confining myself to the apartment, sleeping on and off throughout the afternoon – but hopelessly throughout the night – searching and searching for some indicia of utility and productivity in an otherwise useless and unproductive day, I resolved with Olympic determination this morning that I wasn’t about to endure another day like it. Initially my projection on my bicycle into the world of metaphors was far less than enthralling. For one thing it was uncommonly cool this morning and I questioned at the outset whether I should return to the apartment to put on another layer of cotton beneath my pullover. If nothing else I was concerned I might reactivate whatever malady I was on the cusp of surviving. Nonetheless I pushed onward with the undiminished metric of Ravel’s Bolero. I was not about to dilute the process.
One of the more disheartening corollaries of this contamination of life by illness is that it tranquillizers the fervour of absolutely everything! As a devout materialist I have been enabled for the majority of my life to satisfy myself with even the vulgar superfluity of things. When once this too is poisoned by the corporeal disorder it constitutes an egregious attack upon what I hitherto had the perception of disguising as mere side-play when in reality it appears to have been vastly more imperative.
Of more ethereal status I found too that G. K. Chesterton was lost on me this morning before I revitalized myself with exercise and by lounging in the afternoon sun at the pool. This is further evidence that the gusto is not within the wallpaper of one’s vernacular but within the very corpuscles of one’s body. Though it was charitably observed in Time magazine of Chesterton’s writing style: “Whenever possible Chesterton made his points with popular sayings, proverbs, allegories—first carefully turning them inside out.” the talent was however of no consequence without the lustre of health.
“There is no difficulty in finding good in what humanity rejects. The difficulty is to find it in what humanity accepts. The diamond is easy enough to find in the dust-bin. The difficulty is to find it in the drawing-room. ”
Excerpt From: Gilbert Keith Chesterton. “The Defendant.”