It’s Day 5 of Gray and Gloomy here in the ‘Lou, and the wind is picking up and the rain is falling and the temperature is falling, so my thoughts turn internal.

Not that that should be news to anyone. I am inwardly focused to a fault, and yet curiously concerned with the image I project to the world. Maybe that’s the bane of all inwardly focused people. We focus inwardly because we internalize what we think the world is thinking about us, which of course is never accurate–either the world’s perception or our own perception of the world’s perception.

But I digress.

When I included “Move” on my list of verbs to focus on in 2018, I was thinking “Exercise,” but I didn’t want to say “Exercise” because that’s such a cliche and so narrow. “Move” is better because it can include all sorts of progress and change and is really easy to do. It could just be get off the couch and do something, like clean the basement–which literally moves things but also causes your emotions to move as you realize your kids don’t care about the stuff they used to care so much about, and that so little of the stuff you once thought important is useful.

However, when I wrote it I really was thinking “Exercise,” because it’s been a tough few months for me and exercise–which I am somewhat obsessed with because, again, internalization of outside perceptions. Here is how it has gone:

Early November: An unusually warm and windy day. I went for a run. The street cleaners were out picking up leaves and mulching them on site. Running west from Kingshighway on Murdoch, I saw a huge cloud of leaf dust hovering around the orange mulching truck at the top of the hill. I quick shifted and ran further north to Devonshire, but not, as it turned out, far enough. By the time I got home I was hacking, and that hack turned into sneezing and wheezing that lasted for days.

In early December, finally recovered from that, I had my best exercise week in ages. I lifted weights, I rode the bike three days, I went to Pilates, I went to two classes at the Y. Then, sometime over the weekend, I lifted a 50-pound bag of kitty litter out of the trunk of the car the wrong way and twisted my back. The pain increased until I finally went to Urgent Care after passing out in the middle of the night. The Urgent Care people were less interested in my back than in the passing out. Aneurysm? Heart attack? Stroke? The list of potential catastrophes I thought myself too young for grew as I waited for test results, all negative. It was just a kitty-litter-related back sprain.

It took weeks for that to clear up, and in fact it still sticks a little when I sneeze or cough or move the wrong way, but it’s mostly gone. But then I got a cold. And then it went away. Mostly. And then it came back. One night it was keeping me awake and I felt so bad I went to Walgreen’s at 3 a.m. for Extra Strength Nyquil. And it’s still lingering, the sniffling and the draining and the yuck.

Where is this going, this tale of vanity and mortality awareness?

Well, I’m not sure, but it seems as good a time as any to experiment with placing a video on my page: Mississippi Fred McDowell performing a song about humility and mortality awareness that I grew up with as a Rolling Stones song, “You Gotta Move”: