Okay. It’s about me.

I don’t typically write about myself. Actually I don’t even think of myself that much, except perhaps to coach myself about what I eat, how much exercise I am or should be getting, or when I have to start moving in order to be on time. Yes, self-discipline is a conscious effort. That sort of thinking however is attuned to the idea that this life is what we have. I believe there is more to be gotten from good quality life even if it means there is less of it. Anyway, living longer won’t get me into any post-mortal resident’s housing any more easily.

The payoff for quality of life is like an annual salary. Let’s say I’m earning at a rate of 50,000 smiley faces a year, and I live my last twenty years at this rate, right up to the end. I die a smiley millionaire, and while the faces surrounding my last hours may not be smiley faces, they are at least there. Now let’s say I’m living out my last years in a life conserving way, not exerting myself, not remaining active, not engaging in new and interesting adventures – basically, not taking risks. Sensible, perhaps, but a sacrifice of quality for quantity of life, this plan only pays about 40,000 smiley faces for the first year. Because the return to the world from such a life is weak, that rate decreases by about 5% in smiley faces each subsequent year. When I do the math, I see I’ll be able to live ten years longer enjoying what I can of an ever decreasing rate of smiley faces. That decrease will allow only a poverty rate for the last ten years of so, leaving me with under 700,000 smiley faces for enduring my extra, impoverished years. I will have out worn or out lived some of the faces that would have been with me at the end.

So when I think about myself, I think about things like this. I spend little time in such contemplation. I just get on with trying to live my life out at the highest quality I can achieve, and set about working to do that. But once in a while, my attempts to impose the sort of order that is the goal of self-discipline is knocked out by the relentless, entropic forces of the cosmic chaos. I contracted a case of what was probably gastroenteritis, something I had not suffered for about fifteen years. The rug came well and truly out from under my quality of life, two days before Christmas while out of state visiting my angelic wife’s family. I’ll spare you the details which did nothing to ameliorate my quality of life level – au contraire. By the end of the week, I was pretty much well again. I had only to endure a very busy day of air travel, which I consider a violation of human rights under almost any circumstances. (I would as soon prepare for and accept a colonoscopy as fly within a week of Christmas or Thanksgiving.) I could then however look forward to the New Year’s week with my wife working from home and part time. This would certainly be an increase in life quality.

Then, on an achingly cold New Year’s Day, as we were assembling a fairly easy jig-saw puzzle, I found my nose running, my eyes straining and my energy flagging. I was ushering in an upper respiratory infection as severe as any I can recall. I work in close contact with elementary students, and sometimes bring home their little colds, but this one should have been stricken the rolls of viral variants. So much for divine oversight. Now, seven days in, I am waiting for at least a decent night’s sleep, if not a surcease of post ocular pain, congestion, sneezing and coughing.

In the last two weeks that include two holidays and air travel, I had what amounts to four good quality days. I don’t count the air travel day. So, yes, I am writing about myself today, because I’m hurting and miserable and am indulging in a very low life-quality inactivity, feeling sorry for myself. And I am steeped in indignation that all life on the planet, which I regard as sacred, has ascended from organisms much like the miserable viruses that have had their way with me these last two week, and which are dancing around my head even now in sarcastic glee.

And don’t pity me. It won’t help.

About Jay C Ritterson
If I say nothing, it might be that I have nothing to say.

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