Thursday, April 15, 2004

The Theft of the Ideal

Being sick doesn't just make me cranky; it fills me with anger. I'm not proud of this anger, and I work very hard to suppress it; it's selfish in the extreme to react that way over such a trifling thing as a cold. But the emotion is there, and so I do my best to control it.

Bad weather also drives me to rage, so yesterday, with the onset of both a cold and a blizzard, I was angry indeed.

So I spent the day in bed, grinding my teeth, coughing up phlegm and going through an entire box of tissue.

Some people like snow, and most people, I think, see the common cold for what it is: a minor inconvenience. So why do I feel so aggrieved by simple whims of nature?

I thought about that question today, and I came to this conclusion: I see life as all too brief. So every moment ruined by inclement weather or illness is, if you think about it, a huge intrusion into our limited time. Not a conscious or malicious intrusion, but an intrusion nonetheless, a theft of the ideal moments that make live worth living.

I recognize that this viewpoint is selfish in the extreme, that the perfect summer days I live for during each miserable winter are not some kind of birthright. Every summer day I waste with a book or other diversion is one that could be spent helping someone less fortunate, and yet I still spend those days recklessly, indulgently, on myself.

In other words, a little sniffling and snow is a small price to pay for a first-world lifestyle.

And yet I know I'll still be gritting my teeth and feeling robbed the next time.

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