I saw my rheumatologist for my regular check-up today.
Things are looking good, for the most part, except for the hips. It seems strange to me that the rest of my joints can be doing so well while my hips keep getting worse. She did say that she thinks my swimming is helping. But she also said that at some point we'll need to think about hip replacement.
I was upset for a few minutes, but then I went back to being upset about the fact that I've got a major paper due on Friday and I've only written four pages. I'm too busy to mope, and I think that is a very good thing. By the time I hand the paper in, I'll have a Christmas party to prepare for, then exams, then my choir concert, then another exam... lots and lots of things to do.
I read some things by a psychologist named Jordan Peterson a while ago that I found interesting. He thinks the goal of a virtuous life should be to find the things that make you unselfconscious, and do them. Unselfconscious in the sense of being so absorbed by what you're doing that you forget to think about yourself, about the time, about the fact you haven't eaten yet, or (for many of us), the fact that your joints hurt. I like that, and I know what he means.
I don't think he means we shouldn't think about our lives, or that we should never feel sad or worried. I think he means that we're at our best when we're engaged with the world rather than just with ourselves.
In my own experience, I've always felt the least pain when I've been doing something that matters to me. Whether it's singing or writing or cooking for someone, or talking to a friend. It's not that my pain isn't there; it's just that my mind stops picking up on it for a while. I think the same can often be said for emotional pain or anxiety.
Not that I'm totally there or anything. But once in a while I'm reminded that it's good to be busy. I don't want a hip replacement. But I also don't have a lot of time to think about it, and I'm pretty happy about that.
So, I'm interested: what keeps you busy? what matters more than illness to you?