Monday, February 02, 2015

The Fix

I am sitting at the kitchen table the morning after the super bowl eating bits of corn chips left over in the bowl.  I've lost my coffee somewhere in the house -- literally, have searched the entire house twice, inexplicable -- and have settled for water.  I have one kid home throwing up, one kid playing hooky, and one kid trailing after me from room to room saying, "mommy?  mommy?" with no follow up statements.

I've spent the  morning loading and unloading the washing machine and calling doctors offices to see if there's anyone -- dermatologist, allergist, GP, NP -- who will squeeze me in and medicate my poison oak that is now keeping me (and Ben) awake in the night with its incessant demand for clawing.

Each time I stand in a scalding hot shower to quell the itching, or pour oatmeal into the tub again, I am struck by the fact that I have scalding water at the ready and numbers to call (numerous ones) to "make this go away."

I've been thinking about this lately, about the expectation of an instantaneous fix, about our weakness of endurance.  All over the world, people suffer.  There isn't the immediate option to stand in burning water and then smear hydrocortizone on angry rashes.  There isn't the immediate option to take a seratonin booster and slip out of a steady gloom.  There isn't the immediate option to buy medicated drops for a toddler's eyes.  Often, the immediate option is to suffer and to wait.

But often, I expect not to.

I am not talking about the internal suffering we all face at some point, the suffering of loss, of grief, of despair, of our own humanity and mortality.  Some days (or months, or years) those take our breath.

And I am not talking about the long-suffering that comes with illness and various heart-wrenching diagnoses.

What I am talking about is simply the interruption in health and sleep and daily routine: the flu, a migraine, strep, lice, rashes, concussions, broken bones, back pain.

I was talking to a friend yesterday, mother of four children, who said, "I'm finally coming to realize that there will always be something.  There are too many people in play for there not to be SOMEthing going on all the time.  I don't know why I expected otherwise."

I am troubled by how much I expect otherwise, by how much I expect expanses of health and rest and ease.

I am troubled by how intolerant I am of inconvenience, discomfort, and interruption, by how quick I am to reach for a panacea, instead of to dig deep for endurance.

Sometimes it's appropriate to get on the horn and solve the situation.  But other times it's not.  I can see my expectation for immediate gratification and my ability to wait things out slipping from my body as my fingers speed over the face of my phone each day.  The restlessness of now extends far beyond wellness -- we want phones in hands, text messages returned in less than a minute, shipping expedited, and groceries dropped on the stoop.  We are fast and flying.

We want the fix.
We want so much so quickly.
And this morning I'm wondering how much this state keeps us wanting at the core.

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