I wrote the following in October of 2009, as I was recovering from H1N1 and pneumonia. It seems fitting that just over ten years later, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, I should come across it again. As ever, there are no accidents, and the world continues to circle.
Unsure of the date, I know only that it is somewhere near Halloween and I will not be Hello Kitty.
Instead, I am lost — wandering the timeless Land of Nod.
In the Land of Nod, there are no clocks. Here, time is marked only in doses of suffering or relief – tickless, soundless – and so the body, despite its initial protestations, ultimately relinquishes, reverts, relaxes, into its most natural patterns, its most restorative rhythms.
For me, those are the rhythms of the night.
Night time — the tangled rumble of midnight, where day and night creatures meet in passing, both blinking and stretching, at the beginning and end of their days. The soft, rich undulations of 3 a.m., that holy witching hour when so much of the world sleeps, when silence is so deep that the groan of cobbled road belies the true weight, the true burden, of the steel and iron, fuel-filled cages we call cars. And the blessed, fragile quiet of that hour just before dawn. There we nocturnals meet again our daylight cousins. They seldom see us as they cling to the last drops of Dream before their screaming alarums hurl them, stumbling and cursing, into Day.
Do they not know that Sun, like Moon, is a goddess? That she needs nothing, wants no one? That she can never be tamed, is only to be worshipped, and that we are meant only to sleep, grateful and prostrate, in the long warmth of her aureate fingers?
Those are the rhythms to which my body has returned. My body – this weak/strong, besieged organism in which I am housed, which I so often take for granted.
In the Land of Nod, there is an island called Illness. And on that island, a newly thriving city called Influenza. Or Flu. Or Swine Flu. Or H1N1. Or whatever “more appropriate” label society now instructs us to use.
It is in this ever-growing city that I now wander.
H1N1, while perhaps not founded by Man is certainly supported and fed by him. Man’s greed, his fears, have nurtured the H1N1 community as they have the communities of Leprosy, Consumption, and AIDS. As soon as I arrived, I was marked – branded with a bright yellow face mask that sent people scurrying away from me, eyes averted, whispering behind their hands. I found myself defiant rather than shamed. I stood with my back a bit straighter, a dare in my black eyes, willing them to look, to notice, to Be Afraid lest they, too, be condemned.
But that was the beginning.
And in the beginning, it is easy to be defiant.
Time passes namelessly in the Land of Nod. Hours, minutes, days, have meaning only to Mind and Mind does not reign here. Here, we are governed by Air, by the ability – or no – of the organism to Breathe. Simply Breathe. Just Breathe.
Here, Air is Wealth – Gold, Oil – a platinum-profit that exists “out there” – somewhere – and can be yours free for the taking – if only you can get to it, if only you can take it.
But this is the Land of Nod – where nothing works “as it should”, where nothing – and everything – is free. Our centuries-bred conqueror characteristics of strength and force and will and determination have no power here where invisible microbes fell far sturdier forms of life than Human. In the Land of Nod, the precious commodity of Air drifts through, around, beyond, and always just out of the grasp of the tightest, toughest fist.
And so, defiance soon gives way to Pain.
In Pain, I fought. Unaware. Acutely Aware. Clutching at the short puffs of Air, savouring the burn in my chest that meant I was still here, could still feel, was still alive.
I fought. I thought.
I thought of my patients. Those who struggle each day like this, but worse, far worse, and have done for far longer. I thought of those without means. Those without healthcare, without access to the drugs and treatments now waging the invisible battle in my body. I thought of the children. The children, the uninsured, the old, the tired. Those who have met Death in Nod.
I thought of Death.
And at some point, I understood.
I understood, because I have been blessed to witness so often, that Death truly is not what we fear. Not what I fear. This – is what I fear. “This”.
T H I S.
And in that understanding, I surrendered.
Mind gave over to Organism. Reason capitulated to Knowledge. The fight was over and only Pain remained. My lungs began to creak and moan like slowly closing rusted doors, but there was no struggle, there was only Pain. Pain and a slight curiosity to see what might come next.
From that viewpoint, the Land of Nod opened up to me. I saw it was less remote, less isolated than I had believed. I could see it was surrounded by islands, tiny islands with names I recognized, some I had visited (though never for very long), some I had not yet known; islands called Freedom and Joy and Acceptance and Peace. Each of these islands was pulsating, glimmering, glowing, surrounded by a soft light that enveloped, encircled and connected them to each other – a light called Love.
As I floated there, surrendered to Pain, it was the light of Love that tethered me – gently, securely – to this world.
It was the love of beings still in the world I can see, some with whom I have yet to share a physical plane, and the love of beings long gone from my sight. But it was all Love. All of it. Love.
And I Realized something that I have always Known: Love is the only God.
is the only
It always has been.
It always will be.
And so, I continue to wander this Land of Nod. Timelessly floating. Surrendered to Pain. Bound and buoyed, fed and sustained, by Love.
Thank you (and Y O U) for being part of that Love.
©s rogers october 2009