I have been in bed almost all day long. This chronic Epstein-Barr (mononucleosis) garbage just flared again bigtime, after I had almost conquered it. A bad cold I caught on the flight back from California turned into a bronchial infection, which hit my weak immune system so hard it appears to have eliminated all the progress I made all summer against mono. It is terribly discouraging. This is the eighth month of this particular stretch. I slept most of the afternoon, and remained in bed drained for an hour and a half after that.
When I got out of bed to go to the kitchen to get more water, I noticed something when I came back into the bedroom. It occasioned a small epiphany, so I photographed what I saw: the books piled by the side of my bed: Dante, Homer, books about Dante and Homer, Walker Percy. (The photo is grainy because it was taken in low-light conditions, and had to be enhanced.) What you can’t see is my laptop, which slept on the bed next to me. This makes me very, very happy. I am so unbelievably privileged. Yes, I’m fairly sick, and it’s a physical and emotional and even a spiritual beatdown, but look, I have a job that allows me to be more or less bedridden, and still read and write for a living.
That is incredible. If I were a manual laborer, or someone bound to an office, I don’t know what I would do. Actually, I do: if I were a manual laborer, I would be on disability; if I were an office worker, I would be pushing my way through the day, which is what I did when I first got mono and lived in Philly. But I’m neither, and this is an unbelievable blessing.
Plus, I live in a time and place where access to the great literary treasures of world civilization is easy and inexpensive. Inside that bookshelf sits my iPad Mini. If I wanted to, I could have an enormous number of books beamed through the air into that device in under a minute, just for the asking, and for a relatively small amount of money. Or even free: there’s a lot of Chekhov, for example, in the public domain, and free on Kindle. I read Turgenev’s “Fathers and Sons” on my Kindle app, and it didn’t cost a thing.
It stinks to be sick like this. But man, as a writer and a reader, am I ever blessed. As my priest likes to say, Glory to God for all things!