I recently attempted a flight to my hometown, St Louis, to visit family for the holidays. This was about 6 weeks since COVID day 1, Nov. 13, my first bout. After my initial recovery (which took 12 days of rest and almost nothing but rest), I felt much better. But then, after 5 days of the joy of health, the pain returned with much mucous. My upper respiratory system was attacked again (a cold? or COVID remnant? I still do not know), and those symptoms lasted a long time, progressing from cold to sinus infection to cough attacks.
While in the "sinus infection" phase, my son Kwame and I packed for our trip and drove to BWI airport, where we were booked on a Southwest flight. First it was delayed. Then an hour and a half later, canceled. Then we were told that our luggage would be unaccessible...it was going to our destination. We would have to fill out a luggage claim (1 hour waiting in line and the likelihood of ~5-7 days before having our luggage returned to us) or re-booking the flight (3.5 hours waiting in a line with no purpose; there were no other flights available).
I had an experience, while speaking with one of the baggage claim staff, that I am not proud of. I broke down, sobbing, telling this woman that I needed my luggage because there was medicine in it (true)....but there was nothing she could do for me. And, after having to process hundreds of disgruntled (at the least) and furious passengers, she simply had no empathy. So I said, "well, I suppose Southwest has enough insurance to cover injury and death," and walked away.
Something gave way.
I decided to drive to St Louis, a 2-day trip with an overnight in Charleston, West Virginia, to see my family and try to get my luggage.
My father, who is disarming and forceful at the same time, and who is extremely determined, and who also has white/elder/male privilege, went up to the St Louis airport twice. The first was to assess the great mess happening there...much like BWI.
Luggage was everywhere. It was clogging up the baggage carousels. Hundreds of bags cordoned off, inaccessible to customers standing in line, waiting 5-6 hours (!) to talk to a baggage worker to get their bags back. There were only two baggage workers. There were more than a hundred people in the line. Each customer took 15 minutes to satisfy. You do the math.
My dad took note of what was happening, went home, came back later and made friends with the 2 nicest baggage staff persons. Then, with two 8.5x11 papers in hand with printouts of my luggage stubs on them, he dared enter one of the cordoned off areas, after sighting one of my bags, which was pink and covered with flowers. Someone came in after him - but it was one of the nicer staff persons, whom he had been friendly with minutes earlier. "Hey what are you doing in here?" To which my dad responded that he was told to come pick up the bags there, which he had paperwork for, which he showed the staff person, who looked at it, looked at the bag, and just let him. He arrived home with my bags at the same time my son and I pulled up to the house after our 14 hour trip. A Christmas Miracle, on Christmas Day. Oh what joy!
Pain. For the better of the first 3 days of the visit. Coughing fits. Nausea. Sleeplessness. Body pain. Headaches. Sigh. Some part of me decided that I was just going to play with pain. That I was just going to keep on doing me, even if I was in pain. Ha! Pain is Joy's antipode. However they also amplify one another. Joy is sweeter, when one has been in pain consistently for a stretch of time. Then, pain is stronger, after one has been in the throes of Joy.
I share this little bit of wisdom with a point.
I do not feel pain when I am playing music, and I do not feel pain when I am teaching. I did feel pain while driving 14 hours. In fact I rarely feel pain when I am moving. It is while at rest that the pain comes. Who can explain this? I feel like I am always searching for an answer but honestly, it comes down to the power of the mind, and that old law in physics, "a body in motion tends to stay in motion," to which I would add...
Even when it desperately needs rest.
I want to say Happy New Year to all of you wonderful people. Thank you for reading my crazy story. I am grateful for you in my life. I am learning to accept that rest is not optional. Sometimes the universe speaks to me..."Sit your ass down"... so if you see me taking rest, you will know it is for the best.
And I hope you all will do the same, after drumming of course.