As of today, I've been three weeks in this bed. I can walk and stand for short periods, but am still unable to sit for more than a few minutes - although I think I managed about 20 on Saturday. I spend my days, evenings and nights on the bed, mostly lying on my belly since this relieves pressure on the herniated disc in my lower spine.
My world seems different when observed from bed. My possibilities for action are diminished - and yet I find myself plagued by the questions like, what kind of person am I? how will I be remembered? will I be remembered? am I contributing anything of significance to this world?
I'd prefer if the questions my mind came up with were more along the lines of - should I read another chapter or play a game of sudoko? I already have 5 books on the go, should I start a 6th? These are queries I can answer, or at least act upon.
To pass the time, I've been reading about Simone de Beauvoir and Jean-Paul Satre. V gave me a book of Beauvoir's letter's to Satre; from the library I borrowed Lettres au castor - his letters to her. To fill in the gaps in their correspondence, I'm reading Tête-à-tête, a biography of their relationship. Then I have Beauvoir's The Second Sex, which I've always meant to read and now have the time.
Perhaps it is reading about these two ambitious, driven individuals who were absolutely devoted to their careers as writers that has me wondering about my own posterity - although their relationship to each other and those around them is, while fascinating, is not exactly inspiring.
I like to read biographies and auto-biographies of people I respect - often writers and artists. What troubles me is that few of them have balanced or 'normal' lives. I used to want to be the troubled artist, writing in an attic hovel while smoking French cigarettes, chasing wine with strong, dark coffee. I flirted with that life for a few years, even realizing my dream of renting a room in Paris from which I huddled and wrote.
But that life never really worked for me. I was lonely. I was unpublished. I felt selfish and self-absorbed. And yet when I read about the lives of writers I feel that longing. When I am stuck in bed, that longing is compounded by a desire to do something, anything, more significant than reading about the exciting lives of others while watching my own drift by outside the bedroom door.