Stockholm, 5 May 2010

Yup. I’m still sick. In fact, as soon as I thought I was out of the woods, it got worse. And I can’t even really claim ash-cloud asthma or three-day train rides through Europe as my excuse. I drove and flew, and arrived in Stockholm for concerts – just in time for strep throat and a relentless fever.

Canceling. Hm. I’ve never done that before, and frankly, IT SUCKS LEMONS! And I’m not just saying that because of the loss of revenue (Ouch!!!); or for that matter because I have some morbid fascination with reliving questionable job situations, in my case Vienna. Though actually, I had come up with a bunch of reasons for why it would be a great learning experience and was sooooo ready to throw myself right back in there. (Nothing like brain-washing yourself into an adrenalin rush!)

Nope. None of that can hold a candle to the intense sense of failure and worthlessness one feels when one cannot make a sound with those odd little fleshy things in the throat. Considering that they slam together about a million times on any given day, it’s a miracle they’ve never protested before.

But, let’s face it — Sick vocal cords do not get a lot of sympathy from normal folks…

On the other hand, lying in the emergency room with fever chills, throbbing headache and exploding stomach pains due to the medication – being told by a 12-year-old doctor that there’s nothing he can do for you — well, that can really take some of the air out of your sails. Absolutely nothing like it for making you feel like an ordinary citizen. (Just in case you’d thought yourself special…!!)

In any case, I finally woke up this morning fever-free for the first time in what feels like weeks. It didn’t last all day, but at least I actually felt some sense of hope even though I still have to grab on to things when standing up…

Being sick, and particularly being forced to rely on the help of other people just to manage the basics (Thanks brothers and mom!) is a very humbling experience. A kind of re-boot of the computer. It resets all the gauges and makes some of the finer and softer qualities in life come into focus, and other, more punchy ambitions are reduced to their proper and proportionate place.

But also, I was reminded today – by my mom’s dentist (!!) – that only people with a special talent or inner purpose get to do this kind of special creative job in life. That it is not a normal job — and not one to be taken for granted. She asked, “After everything, are you content?”…

So what is this fragile and precious balance between strength and sensitivity, vision and acceptance, ambitious competence and humility, relentless self-expression and generosity… ferocity and love?

I know I need it all. Some of it to survive the world, some of it to survive my conscience. All of it to learn and teach and live a life worthy of itself.

Yes. I am content. I was content years ago. Everything else is icing…

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