how to get the flu

I remember the first time I got "the flu".

I was seventeen, at college. As well as the usual workload that entails, I held down two jobs, one early morning and one in the evening. My social life was fairly crazy too. Sleep was something I caught here and there, at best. Yet these factors alone were not enough to make my body susceptible to passing virii.

It was a girl, the straw that broke the camel's back.

Or rather, it was my relationship with that girl. Not entirely healthy, but that's another story. The virus hit me around teatime on a Thursday, and stayed almost exactly two days. I spent that time in my bed, tossing and turning, moaning and sweating, and hallucinating. At least that's how most folks would classify the visions.

The most memorable was that of being in control of the entire physical world. No trivial thing. I recall staring at my little finger and realising at that point, that by just the slightest movement, I could pull the whole physical world inside out.

I wiggled my little finger.

There was a rising, rushing sound, quickly louder than my ears could bear. I screamed and it began, like bathwater sucked through a plughole by the immense unstoppable forces of gravity. The world started to buckle and twist and touch itself at all points, a twister! that's the best way I can describe it; a multicoloured twister, a screaming cacophony of all known sounds, shapes and colours spiralling together, and my wee finger the pivot, the plughole.

I attempted to guide the motion, to stop it altogether, but it was useless, once started. Very soon, I realised, I too would be sucked through this awesome vortex. And sure enough, a few seconds later, that's exactly what happened.

When I came out the other side, everything seemed pretty much the way it had been before. But then, not quite. The things around me were brighter, sharper, as if the process had cleared something away, something that clouded the world and made it dim before. The room seemed more colourful now (and teenage goth bedsits aren't exactly known for their bright decor). My roommate's music danced over the surfaces like waves of living things, bass guitar jumping madly about the floor, high-hats dancing like fireflies around the ceiling, and everything in between, the space of the room, filled with solid living music. "Is this what Acid is like?" I mused. Seeing sounds wasn't normal, I knew that much.

Within the hour I was well again, smoking cigarettes and remarking how they no longer tasted like burnt rubber.

Something had changed.
I left town shortly after that.

The second time I got "the flu" was less chaotic. The precursors were almost identical; a few weeks of mindless eating, some big stressful situations, too much work, lack of sleep.. But this time, when it hit, I was prepared. I knew fine what was going on. I've learned that when we neglect to take the time to consider certain things, deal with them, then that time is arranged for us. Cause and effect, you might say. It was time to meet my healer. And this time I had my questions prepared.

We met in an old barn I used to play in as a child, seemed like as good a place as any. He was waiting for me. I sat at the other side of the fire, welcoming its warmth and light, being almost naked.

 "Why am I here?"

 "You are unhappy with your life, you needed it to stop for a bit."

I hadn't been expecting that. I'd imagined my life at the time to be running pretty well. The band was going from strength to strength, I had a loving partner, plenty money, was super-popular, all was well, wasn't it?

 "I'm enjoying life, I'm having a lot of fun."

 "You took this life solely for fun?"

Sure, by my mid twenties I'd well considered the reasons for my existence, this lifetime, even as a small child I pondered that. But it was all going so well, this is what I wanted wasn't it?

 "No, but fun is important!", I spluttered.

He chuckles at this and throws more wood on the fire. "Aye, it is that. But surely not THE most important thing."

 "So what is?", I asked, trying to hold his gaze.

 "You already know the answer to that." he stated, matter-of-fact like, looking straight through me; which I realised was what I had been trying to prevent him from doing. "How long, you think, until it falls apart?"

I couldn't speak then. I just nodded. I'd long suspected the band was some childish desire for fame and attention that I had been playing out, my vanity let loose and given wings, and a license to fly. But it had all come together so easily, almost like it was "meant to be". I hadn't stopped to consider that easy isn't always best.

 "But the people enjoy it!". He laughed wildly at this, and I realised then that there is no human act beyond justification, There's always an excuse.

 "Yes, and they enjoy Soap Operas too! Do you plan to do soap operas?" I don't like soap operas, he must have known this, being a part of me.

 "No!"

 "Maybe you already are."

 "Fuck you! I can do what I want!"

 "Yes, after you know what it is that you want"

He was right. I'd stopped thinking along these lines a year or more earlier. Stopped asking if this was what I really wanted for my life, and just let the fun take over. With enough fun going on, you can forget even the most pressing questions.

 "This is a warning, no more. A time set aside for you to consider in. Use it!" he spat the words and stood up to leave. I never did like taking orders, even from myself, and just shook my head. He turned and stared deep into my eyes.

 "Do you really believe that songs can change the world?"

 "No." Truth is, I didn't. I'd lost faith in the songs. "The Band" had become more important to me now.

 "Then it looks like I'll be seeing you again then, perhaps sooner than you think". He smiled and left. The fire died then.

A month later, after a particularly unfortunate sledging accident, I found myself in hospital with a broken back, and a much longer time to "consider things". that's what happens when you don't take your own breaks.

You think I would have learned by now.

My first flu brought about a change of mind. And that, of course, is all it takes to effect a change in reality, in one's life. I realised that the world I knew before had been a shadow of the real, and not some textbook or grimoire telling, for sure I'd seen enough of those, but in the realest sense, by experiencing it, first hand. You really can turn the whole world inside out.

My second flu I kinda ignored. And then wished I hadn't. Breaking my back did it though. I gave up "The Band" and concentrated on the songs. Fame isn't all it's cracked up to be; family is better. Hell, even flu is better!

And that is where I've spent the last two days. In bed, sweating, moaning, and hallucinating; my third flu. It perhaps also explains why this blog entry is such a mess, I'm still not quite back to normal yet.

I suspect I never will be.

;o) Cor

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