The Gods Envy Us

“I’ll tell you a secret. Something they don’t teach you in your temple. The Gods envy us. They envy us because we’re mortal, because any moment might be our last. Everything is more beautiful because we’re doomed. You will never be lovelier than you are now. We will never be here again.”

                                                        Achilles, from the  2004 Movie, Troy

It has been quite the roller coaster ride these past few days. I’ve come to realize over the years that there are a few things that can compel me to stop dead on my tracks, that practically all my activities come to a screeching halt. Well, almost.  It’s when I’m so sick I can barely get out of bed.  These have been few and far between, thank goodness!  I’m not talking the odd sniffle or a bout of indigestion.  I’m talking full-blown asthma requiring repeated inhalations and even the dreaded oral steroids. Bitter. Nasty. Not good for my bones either.

It crept up from behind in the shadows of the back porch. I noticed a mild wind last Saturday. I thought my head throbbed. I dismissed it as maybe the effect of low blood sugar from having skipped lunch. Or maybe I wasn’t drinking enough. I went to bed slightly congested. I thought maybe a mild cold was starting. For the rest of the weekend, I started to cough and sputter. By Monday morning, I had the full-blown orchestra on my chest, with wind instruments predominating.

My bedside table full of meds, tea, reading material, tissue. PHoto Credit (c) Likeitiz

My bedside table full of meds, tea, reading material, tissue. Photo Credit (c) Likeitiz

They say that it’s not uncommon for fifty-somethings like me to think about mortality every now and then. In between bouts of breathiness, chest rattling,  and forceful hacking, when I managed to breathe calmly, I thought of people I know who have had a more direct confrontation with their possible leap to the great beyond. And I considered myself fortunate.  I’ve been miserable. I have been exhausted from coughing so frequently and my brain has been addled by all the medications I’ve had to ingest and inhale.  I’ve been sleep-deprived (and have also kept my hubby up for several nights now!) for days and nights. But I knew that my symptoms would abate in a few days with the requisite rest and medication.  I do not have a deadline. I don’t have a date with a cloaked stranger.

Troy and Briseis, from the  2004 film, Troy, photo credit

Troy and Briseis, from the 2004 film, Troy, photo credit

I thought about the scene in the film, Troy, where Achilles tells Briseis that the gods envy us (humans). I wonder if these Greek gods ever had the chutzpah to see beyond living day after day unendingly. Do they savor their days as much as we mortals do, knowing we can’t have forever? Then I realize my thought process would be too limited to grasp their vast complexity. So I let it go.

It has been almost five years since I was sick enough to stay home for a few days. Each time, I take it as a reminder that I am human and therefore, vulnerable.  I call in to work and I hear that my team manages. I am reminded that I am dispensable.  My hubby and my daughter have cared for me. I know I’m loved.

I woke up this morning feeling a little better. I think the worst part has passed. I took a shower and for lunch, I made myself a gorgeous salad.  No more soup.  I managed to demolish my creation without spewing chewed up greens across the kitchen when I had to cough.  For this, I am grateful.

Snoopy and Charlie Brown Dancing. From Stop First World Whining: Get Grateful, courtesy of

Snoopy and Charlie Brown Dancing. From Stop First World Whining: Get Grateful, courtesy of

This entry was posted in Asthma, Cough, Health, Illness, mortality and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to The Gods Envy Us

  1. Madhu says:

    No, living forever doesn’t appeal. But neither does going too soon. So how late is right? 🙂
    Enjoyed reading your thought provoking sick bed reflections Mary Ann. Hope you are completely recovered by now.


  2. I hope and pray for you to have the best of health my friend. It’s hard to be sick and reading your post reminded me of why my mom has been going through for the past few years. She has on and off battle with an autoimmune disease and though she doesn’t really express well her feelings being a tough, strong person she is, I know the it scares her a lot. I hope to surprise her this August and go home.


  3. auntyuta says:

    I wish you the best of health, dear Mary-Ann. I hope you won’t get any more of these nasty coughs. You did some very beautiful writing. This probably means you are on top of any sickness that you may have to cope with. It is good for your to know that you have a caring family. I feel too that families are very important in our lives.
    This 2004 Troy Movie sounds interesting.
    Best Wishes, Mary-Ann! 🙂
    Aunty Uta


  4. frizztext says:

    I hope the worst part has passed! Maybe when sick in bed, you can enjoy listening to music…


  5. djmatticus says:

    Glad you are feeling better!

    I love that quote from Troy. It’s rare we stop to think about things like that as we are often so focused on our daily pursuits. I tend to agree with Achilles, though, when I do stop for a minute and give it thought. As much as I want to live forever, so I can experience everything, so I can explore everything, eventually everything will become mundane, old, boring… and as time stretches on even the moments I held most dear through the ages will lose all value.

    It’s good to know we are mortal, and have those moments when we struggle, so that we can appreciate the high points that much more.


    • likeitiz says:

      Is it part of our capacity as humans to rationalize that we can be satisfied with our finitude? Or are we the wiser ones from it? The fortunate ones? If it were an unending life of punishment, certainly! But then, if it were a forever after of bliss, would it still be blissful? I agree with you. An apple is crisp, juicy, and sweet when you know you can have only one.


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