Man Down

head cold

It was born on Thursday morning. Source, unknown.  Lousy night’s sleep.  Scratchy throat.  Teasing cough. Oh, oh.

By lunch, phlegm was sliding down the nasal passages.

By mid-afternoon, slow ripples…no waves, waves of low level, throbbing migraines.

I skip over major projects.  Start pushing off meetings that can be deferred.  Manage to creep through the afternoon aimlessly picking at project-lites.

Leave at 5:30.  Head home.  To rest.

“Starve a cold. Feed a fever.” (Why then, am I sitting at the table eating like a wolf?)

Vicks NyQuil Cold & Flu.  I roll the shimmering green gel tablets in my palm – calm settles, I pause, and I swallow.  (The Nightime, Sniffling, Sneezing, Coughing, Aching, Stuffyhead, Fever, So-You-Can-Rest Medicine.  Yes, as advertised.  This sh*t works.)  Magic. 30 minutes later, I’m gone.  Dream land.

Friday morning.  Eyes open.  Wary.  But feeling rested.  Hey, I feel better.

I approach the decision tree.  Stay home – contain contamination. Or, Soldier on.  Decision? Off to work it is.  Real men, work.

Steady downward spiral.  Hour by hour deterioration.  Popping Sudafed tablets.  Phlegm no longer phlegm.  Mucous. Vicious type.  Sn*t.   No longer a gentle slide.  Running.

Scanning emails – a fussy child picking at his food at dinner and not finding anything to eat.

Kleenex in one hand.  Phone in the other.  Staring at schedule.  Stacked back to back. All holes plugged from deferrals the day before.

I get up from chair.  Vertigo.  I stop.  And pause.  I catch my bearings.

I’m late to meeting on another floor.  I take stairs.  I’m gasping for air.  Woozy.  Grab railing.

I’m sitting at meeting.  Mind zoning in and out.  Words and numbers are jumbled on deck.  Periodically nod.  That’s make sense.  Good.  I’m with you.

Find myself turning inward. Spiral. Twist.  Turn.  Crawl deep inside.  I hear conversation.  Taking very little in.

You are surprisingly agreeable today!

I snark out: Well for a change, you are concise and have got it right!  And I march out the door, satisfying one objective: complete personal disorientation.

I walk back down the stairs.  Snorting mucous. Snort again.  Think of Emily Post.  Class.  I spend the rest of the afternoon in my office sequestered taking meetings on phone.

Friday closing bell.  I crawl into the car and wade into traffic.  And I sit staring at the car in front of me. And wonder.

I have a few down days.  Very few.

Yet, some live their days in this…and worse.  Their weeks like this….and worse.

If I’m walking in those shoes, would I get through my days with grace. Or, what…?

I blow my nose.  Shake my head. I pound my fist on the steering wheel.

Damn it, Pal, you’re so blessed.  Blessed for it all. In sickness and in health.

To bless whatever there is, and for no other reason but simply because it is- that is our raison d’etre; that is what we are made for as human beings. This singular command is engraved in our heart. Whether we understand this or not matters little. Whether we agree or disagree makes no difference. And in our heart of hearts we know it. The human heart is made for universal praise. As long as we pick and choose, making praise depends on our approval, we are not yet responding from the heart. When we find our heart, we find that core of our being that is attuned to reality. With clear vision the heart sees the ultimate meaning of all: blessing. And with clear intent the heart responds with the ultimate purpose of life: blessing. Suddenly everything is simple. Gratefulness says it all. Can the spiritual life be that simple? Yes, what we secretly hoped is true: it is all that simple. What brings fulfillment is gratefulness, the simple response of our heart to this given life in all its fullness.

~ Brother David Steindl-Rast

Sources: Image – Salindanletak.  Quote: Thank you Makebelieveboutique


  1. Another one of those laugh, cry, laugh, cry posts…ending with just plain tears. Yes, “gratefulness, the simple response of our heart to this given life in all its fullness.” Hope you feel better soon David…you are so blessed, you are.


  2. It’s all relative, isn’t it? BTW, don’t you know about Neil Med sinus rinse? It helps stop colds in their tracks. At the first hint of a scratchy throat, do the sinus rinse morning and night and you probably won’t get the cold. And if you do, you’ll feel better for having cleared the gunk from your head.


  3. I’m sorry you are feeling so lousy David, and grateful for the important message you found in the midst of your sniffling, achy head misery. We are so blessed in many ways. Hope you’re on the mend soon…and ditto on that sinus rinse! 🙂


  4. How hard it is to feel blessed when felled with illness – even the kind that passes in a few days with a little rest and a derisive response to the ‘play hurt’ philosophy (which would have been the wiser choice pal). And yet, how can one not feel that if this is our roll in the barrel, we’ll take it – especially when faced with the arduous limitations others grapple with on a daily basis? Vitamin C, tylenol and some time to recoup – doctor’s orders. No need to assure you that you are lucky – you’ve got that element of the cure down cold (no pun intended).


    • Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. As (smart) Susan Barrett Kelly says: “One of the most important things I have learned from my Hindu relatives is that “reincarnation” is not about living your whole life over again, but by being presented with lessons until you learn them. When you learn them, you move on to a new life ( or lesson? They never covered this in Catechism drills.” Lesson keeps repeating itself, as I haven’t yet learned.


  5. Oh David, sorry you’ve been temporarily sidelined by this bug, but Mimi’s right, “playing hurt” isn’t always the best call. It’s easy to find someone who has got it worse, there’s always that person, but this is YOUR reality right here, right now, and shouldn’t be discounted. Some aspirin, a little forebearance on your part and a little “tincture of time” should have you back on your feet in no time. And yes, we are blessed, in so many ways. It’s always good to remember that…..


  6. Great post. Love the ending quote.


  7. Hope you get well soon, David. Yep, we all are blessed. Life itself is a blessing if we understand. Besides, appreciating what we have gets us more of it and same is the case for being ungrateful.


  8. Ugh! So sorry you’re down with it but I hope you lean into it and rest otherwise my experience is that it will linger a lot longer that it needed to.

    And a little bit of Canadian Mist & hot water + honey before bed helps!


  9. you are brilliant. i love reading your posts. and hope you are back to full health soon!


  10. Michael Zahaby says:

    speedy recovery my friend


  11. Awesome post David! We are truly blessed…even when we are hit with temporary illnesses. You scored a right on with this post 🙂


  12. Ah, I remember. Stay well.
    – Michael


  13. Feel better, David. It is OK to feel puny, especially when you’re sick and when you recognize things might be worse. You write beautifully in sickness and in health.


  14. You are blessed and be blessed. Have a healthy weekend.


  15. Way to take us from blah to blessed. Fabulous.


  16. You are blessed. All I can say is “your poor assistant” !


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