So, I just thought I'd share a couple of quotes, since it's been so long since I've had any spare time on a Saturday! I recently wrote a review of a wonderful little memoir, The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating, written by fellow ME/CFS sufferer Elisabeth Tova Bailey, and I wanted to share a couple of passages that highlight her beautiful prose and insightful observations:
When the body is rendered useless, the mind still runs like a bloodhound along well-worn trails of neurons, tracking the echoing questions: the confused family of whys, whats, and whens and their impossibly distant kin how. The search is exhaustive; the answers, elusive. Sometimes my mind went blank and listless; at other times it was flooded with storms of thought, unspeakable sadness, and intolerable loss.
Give the ease with which health infuses life with meaning and purpose, it is shocking how swiftly illness steals away those certainties. It was all I could do to get through each moment, and each moment felt like an endless hour, yet days still slipped silently past. Time unused and only endured still vanishes, as if time itself is starving, and each day is swallowed whole, leaving no crumbs, no memory, no trace at all.
Isn't this passage amazing, both in its depth of insight and in the loveliness of its prose, its metaphors perfectly capturing meaning ("the mind still runs like a bloodhound")? I love the part about how time seems to stand still while also flying by when you are too ill to do anything. She writes of both her illness and her observations of a small snail left at her bedside by a friend. Here is another passage that spoke to me:
There is a certain depth of illness that is piercing in its isolation; the only rule of existence is uncertainty, and the only movement is that passage of time. One cannot bear to live through another loss of function, and sometimes friends and family cannot bear to watch. An unspoken, unbridgeable divide may widen. Even if you are still who you were, you cannot actually fully be who you are. Sometimes, the people you know well withdraw, and then even the person you know as yourself begins to change.
There were times when I wished that my viral invader had claimed me completely. How much better to live an exuberant life and then leave as one exits a party, simply opening a door and stepping out. Instead, the virus took me to the edge of life and then left me trapped in its pernicious shadow, with symptoms that, barely tolerable one day, became too severe the next, and with the unjustness of unexpected relapses that, overnight, erased years of gradual improvement.
- Excerpted from The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating by Elisabeth Tova Bailey
I found this slim little volume both entertaining and meaningful and highly recommend it.
Hope you're enjoying the weekend and staying warm! Time for a game of backgammon with Jamie.