Friday, July 12, 2013

to do nothing

How beautiful it is to do nothing, and then to rest afterward.

– Spanish Proverb

“Illness is a part of every human being's experience. It enhances our perceptions and reduces self-consciousness. It is the great confessional; things are said, truths are blurted out which health conceals.”

-  Virginia Woolf, On Being Ill

“We do not know our own souls, let alone the souls of others. Human beings do not go hand in hand the whole stretch of the way. There is a virgin forest in each; a snowfield where even the print of birds' feet is unknown. Here we go alone, and like it better so. Always to have sympathy, always to be accompanied, always to be understood would be intolerable.” 

- Virginia Woolf

“Consider how common illness is, how tremendous the spiritual change that it brings, how astonishing, when the lights of health go down, the undiscovered countries that are then disclosed, what wastes and deserts of the soul a slight attack of influenza brings to view, what precipices and lawns sprinkled with bright flowers a little rise of temperature reveals, what ancient and obdurate oaks are uprooted in us by the act of sickness, how we go down in the pit of death and feel the waters of annihilation close above our heads and wake thinking to find ourselves in the presence of the angels and the harpers when we have a tooth out and come to the surface in the dentist's arm-chair and confuse his "Rinse the mouth-rinse the mouth" with the greeting of the Deity stooping from the floor of Heaven to welcome us - when we think of this, as we are so frequently forced to think of it, it becomes strange indeed that illness has not taken its place with love and battle and jealousy among the prime themes of literature.”

- Virginia Woolf, On Being Ill

I took the above photo with my iPhone one afternoon this past week. I was camped out on the big couch, eyes closed, listening to Chopin, probably for an hour. I don't remember the last time I did such a thing. If I'm listening to music, it's usually while I'm also doing something else.

I still feel like I've been run over by a truck, but there are improvements. This morning I can wink my left eye independently. Which really is quite the thing. Will never take that for granted again....

And yes, illness, even a blessedly short lived one such as the one I've been experiencing, does enhance one's perceptions. I've had a great many thoughts that I'm looking forward to having the energy to express.....

It's been good, too, to give myself permission to do nothing. And then to rest.


  1. I loved the variety of photos on this posting, especially the black-and-white photo. And the quotations from Virginia Woolf connected with me. Thank you. I'm going through my first really bad experience of arthritic inflammation in my dominant hand, and the prospect of chronic pain is changing me, I think. From my heart, I wish you continued recovery.

    1. Edna - thank you fro keeping me in your thoughts. And I shall keep you in mine.

  2. I do hope this abates soon Shawna. But it's obvious how it is providing a needed do-nothing-then-rest stage -- which we all need at times in our life. Very thoughtful quotes too. I have had a self imposed 'rest' myself lately but only because my hips and back completely took me down. I took my down time to sit outside and listen to the quiet and calm: birds mostly, wind rustling, water ...
    I too am a fan of Chopin and, like you, tend to listen only while busily doing something else. Perhaps I should take some still time to simply listen and take it in ... wishing you well.

    1. The experience of just listening to music - reminded me how important it is. Even if I take just that out of this time....

  3. Beautiful Woolf. Always so right. It is necessary to take that rest. Today it's me that will be resting as much as possible in my bed. The thyroid is attacking me again and I feel such a big void...
    Wishing you well and a calm weekend.

    1. I hope the thyroid has subsided by now? Wishing you a calm weekend too!


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