I recently spent ten days or so sick and in bed. Historically, I’ve been one to blow off illness; pretend it’s not happening, and sooner or later you’ll be better. Keep running with the cough, climb four days in a row with swollen, infected tonsils—if you can just act as though everything is fine, you still get to have fun and eventually you just get better. This has always been my strategy, and for the most part it has worked out well enough (although I was admittedly crushed after the tonsillitis climbing trip).
This time, that shit wouldn’t fly. Maybe it was for all those times when I’ve faked it through whatever bug is ruining everyone else’s day, but this time I got straight up clobbered. Body wracking cough, high fever, muscle aches that felt like I had spent the day off-widthing then promptly got my ass kicked in a bar fight, night sweats, a headache that kept my head locked in one position. It was grim, and I couldn’t pretend like it wasn’t happening. So I sat around inside and did nothing for over a week. No running. No climbing. No bikes. I sat and watched the weather be beautiful and I was incapable of capitalizing on it. It didn’t take long for the mental effects of being trapped inside and staying basically stationary to become just as painful as whatever godforsaken illness I was suffering from, maybe even worse. I was awash in negativity and generally just a grumpy pain in the ass.
After I finally caved and went to the doctor, who was baffled as to what was wrong with me but also somewhat alarmed at my state, I was pumped full of science (read: medicine) and I realized something. That hell I was trapped in where I was stranded inside and inactive, knowing that the sun was shining and that the rock was dry and the trails were empty, a state that was pissing me off and filling me with negativity, is what everyday life is like for some (maybe even most) people. I realized that some people have to sit inside and wish they were doing something else maybe five days a week. What I perceived as my own personal hell might just be what it’s like to sit in a cubicle all day. This thought terrified me, depressed me, and made me grateful all at the same time.
I was terrified and depressed that people could live like this and that there was a possibility, no matter how remote, that I could potentially end up that way too.
But I quickly remembered that that was not my life. Thankfully I have the good fortune to feel the sun on my face and the sweat in my eyes more days than most. So often I am able to get out and do what makes me happy that after only ten days of being kept from that, I longed for everything about the mountains with all that I had. Even on days that I find myself at work all day with no time to climb or run, I have my ride to and from work, and I look for every possible opportunity to step outside to run an errand or take care of something in another part of the building, always trying to stay in motion. I know that even when I work full time I’m up and moving most of the day, and always trying to sneak in an after-work run or quick dash out to the crag for evening climbing.
All in all, I suppose what I really learned through the haze of my fever and isolation is that I love living the lifestyle that I live. I’m happy that I miss everything that I do outside as soon as I can’t do it. I think that means I might be doing something right. I want my day-to-day life to enable my passions. To me, that means that life is good. When the habit is being out and doing and the exception is opposite, life is good. I’m on the mend now, which means tomorrow I’ll be tied into the rope again. And again, that means life is good.