Pain is inevitable, but suffering is optional. I repeat this to myself whenever I fall sick. Which is worse, a physical malady like a painfully sore throat or a bout of food poisoning that renders one unable to speak and function normally, or the darkness that descends upon the mind and shuts everything else out, rendering it cold and numb? It is easy to say that physical illness is easier to manage compared to clinical depression but when I fall sick, I find that unpleasant, long-forgotten memories tend to return to the mind, which then makes it susceptible once again to the chilling darkness. Somewhat like the sentiments that Rupert Brooke expresses in this poem on seasickness.
The damned ship lurched and slithered. Quiet and quick
My cold gorge rose; the long sea rolled; I knew
I must think hard of something, or be sick;
And could think hard of only one thing—you!
You, you alone could hold my fancy ever!
And with you memories come, sharp pain, and dole.
Now there’s a choice—heartache or tortured liver!
A sea-sick body, or a you-sick soul!
Do I forget you? Retchings twist and tie me,
Old meat, good meals, brown gobbets, up I throw.
Do I remember? Acrid return and slimy,
The sobs and slobber of a last years woe.
And still the sick ship rolls. ’Tis hard, I tell ye,
To choose ’twixt love and nausea, heart and belly.
Rupert Brooke, A Channel Passage
Out of the many ways to heal, literature is the best of all, perhaps; to write, and to read good fiction.
Somewhere I read that the word ‘kindle’ was used to refer to a group of kittens that were born together. In this context, the word ‘kindle’ is synonymous with ‘litter’, but the former sounds so much more pleasing and sweeter. Speaking of kindles, nearly ten years after I voted on Nathan Bransford’s blog that I would never switch to an e-reader and that ‘a paper book would have to be pried out of my cold, dead hands’ (or something to that effect), I got myself a Kindle for Christmas. The obvious advantages of an e-reader notwithstanding, I don’t find it very different from a real book. While there is something comforting about holding a physical book, picking it up, turning the pages, placing a bookmark in it and so on, in the end, a Kindle serves equally well. For the fictive dream is the same, whether it arises from the lines on paper or a screen.