I woke up at 4 AM this morning with my world moderately spinning and I knew that it was back. Periodically I have vertigo, and there does not seen to be one thing that I can do about it other than to wait it out and hope that it is over soon. I tend not to have it as violently as many other people do and this episode is sort of a mid-range in severity. That means that I can negotiate my way down the hallway and to the sofa and do not have to sit down to take a pee, as long as I have a wall handy to steady myself.
Since it is hard to read when the words tend to dance a bit before your eyes I have little to do other than turn on the television set which usually sits cold and dark in the corner of the living room. At least it is college football season. The teams really don’t matter and the sports cliches of the announcers will usually put me to sleep in very little time. I will call my brother and commiserate, but that only buys me an hour at best. The rest of the time all I have to do is lie there and think.
The thoughts which came to me today were how much I take for granted that the world stays still for me. Work may be reasonable one day and chaos the next. My favorite sports teams may win or lose. The Republicans may win the next election or the Democrats may win. Things always change and move and morph and some wags will tell you that change is the only constant that there is. Still, we DO take it as a constant that the earth does not move under your feet, and when it does, such as in an earthquake, or when it seems as if it does, like when you have vertigo, everything gets figuratively turned upside down.
I have heard it said that the most unsettling thing that many people feel during a major earthquake, besides the fear that a building or a bridge or the neighbor’s car might fall on top of you, is the sensation that all you really count on is no long steady. I have only been in smaller earthquakes; nothing greater than a 4 pointer. Still, when my rolling chair began to roll across the office all by itself where I was working I felt that unsettled feeling. Right after that I began to fear that the seven floors of the building that were over my head would soon come pancaking down if the quake picked up intensity, which it did not do.
This whirling of the vertigo is much like that, without the physical fear. The stomach is affected because of the nervous reaction to the inability to walk in a straight line. The idea that “this came out of nowhere and I do not know if it will necessarily go away” adds a level of concern that does not do the nerves or the stomach any favors. Add to that the disappointment that any plans that you had; dinner with friends, going to work, walking the dog, etc., are now history. I may work on Tuesday, I may not. I don’t know.
The lesson that this teaches me is that I can put no absolute confidence in anything that my senses perceive. The earth will move, my vision will whirl, taxes not only go up but sometimes go down. I must therefore, if I have any interest in permanence and stability, go outside of my sensory perceptions and enter into the field of theology, which happily I am all to ready to do.
The Bible speaks of a house built upon a rock as a symbol of believing in something that has substance, that won’t be moved. I like that very much. I am tired already of things moving that shouldn’t be moving. All of this spinning and so on gives me little alternative but to lie on a sofa, watch mostly boring football games, and think about what is real and doesn’t move. All things considered, I believe that I have made the best our of a bad deal.