Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

Talking About Uncertainty...at least I think we were...

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So, I did not have a head cold. I have Norwalk flu. Norwalk flu is far worse than a head cold. You can tell this because it is important enough to have an actual name

For a head cold to be in any kind of contention for Horrible Things That Can Get Into Your Body (and then which try to get out through every possible orifice- more on that later- you’ve been warned) it would have to be called Vile North Toronto Snuffly Syndrome or something like that.

A key to the name is that it identifies the place where the horrible thing originated, so we know who to blame. Norwalk flu obviously comes from Norwalk. I have no idea where that is but they have something to answer for let me tell you.

For those who have never had Norwalk flu, picture your body as a volcano and everything you’ve had to eat or drink in the last two years, plus a few vital organs, as lava. The volcano goes off about every hour for a period of about seven hours. In my case, picture this beginning at midnight Christmas Eve. I don’t want to miss out on those extra sympathy votes.

Having recovered to the point of no longer wishing for death (which is a significant improvement, let me tell you) I am now able to reflect on the meaning of this event. That’s the first thing that comes back for me, the tendency to reflect. The ability for logical thought takes much longer. Just so you know.

In my last post I suggested that we embrace the uncertainty of life. And what happens? Bang-o (This is a literary term. I’m almost sure of it.) uncertainty spreads itself large across the canvass of my life. The ability to write decent metaphor that doesn’t incite Norwalk-like reaction in readers takes time to come back as well. You’d probably guessed that.

The point is the moment we contemplate changing our lives in a brave and helpful way, there almost always follows a challenge as to whether or not we actually mean it. It’s as if the powers that be look down and say, “Ah, this is a brave and helpful step. Taking this step will change your life in all kinds of positive and even miraculous ways. Absolutely, this can only be for the better. So, what are the chances that you truly intend to take such a step?”

What this means is that if you make a resolution to be kinder to people, everyone around you will immediately act like huns. Similarly, if you decide to be kinder to yourself, right away one of the huns will say something entirely unkind about you. Your choice is to hear the unkind comment or, and this is what matters, to hear what’s really being said, the universe asking, “Did you really mean it?”

OK, my sadly Norwalked brain is now making it difficult to think at all, let alone well or at least as well as I have been thinking if I’ve been thinking well which should be for others to say of course and… oh God, where was I?

I think I was at the point of saying that perhaps contracting Norwalk, moments after encouraging you, gentle reader, to embrace the uncertainties of life, and particularly during Christmas when the rest of the world frolics and feasts (OK, most of them sit around in disillusioned annoyance but it doesn’t seem that way when you’re lying in bed unable to join them, let me tell you) could be seen as a call for me to anti up as to whether or not I truly am prepared to accept said uncertainties with the same measure of grace I counsel.

This time I am. Perhaps, because I’m too weak to do anything else. But, I hope that when this flu passes (I speak metaphorically of course. For the most part.) because I realize that life will always send me unexpected twists and turns and that gracious acceptance is not weakness. There is strength in accepting and remaining kind to myself in the face of whatever comes.

Having said that, the strength I need at the moment is to be able to stay upright long enough to send this. Till next time, wishing you well. Or at least accepting.

The views expressed in the Writer-in-Residence blogs are those held by the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of Open Book: Toronto.

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Anne Hines

Anne Hines is the author of three novels, Fishing Up the Moon (Pedlar Press, 1998), The Spiral Garden (McArthur & Co, 2005) and Come Away: song of songs (McArthur & Co., 2007) and one collection of nonfiction humour, A Year In HineSight (McArthur & Co, 2002). A series of essays, Parting Gifts: notes on loss, love and life is due for publication by McArthur & Co, fall 2008.

Go to Anne Hines’s Author Page