Privilege Blog

This Is The Way, Or, Saturday Morning at 9:13am

The Mandalorian holding Grogu

Well that was not fun. I highly recommend not catching COVID, in case you wondered.

To recap, I have had every vaccine known to mankind (although my last was in April; protection therefore waning), was in reasonably good health with no underlying conditions except my age, had never been infected, decided to fly to the UK for a quick trip, wore my mask except to eat (inside and on the airplane), and proceeded to get quite sick.

Not the respiratory miseries of early COVID days, but good golly miss molly I felt awful. Paxlovid helped. Soup helped. Sleep helped. Television didn’t help, but it did pass the days.

I want to talk about reserves.

As it happened, before I fell ill I had not watched The Mandalorian, Disney’s foray into the Star Wars world. What a pleasure! How lovely to have three seasons of heroism and puppet toddler creature available to lift my sagging spirits! What a celebration of myth and craft. One small reservation, a bit too heavy on the Pew! Pew! Pew! Kapow! Kapow! Kapow! KABLAM! for me, but due to the white plastic armor on most evil soldiers gore remained at a minimum., except from giant sand monsters.

So, story I had in reserve. On the other hand, I’ve now fallen behind on querying my novel, lost my Duolingo successive days of Spanish streak, and used up most if not all of the fitness I built up with the past year of hard work. Lack of reserves, there.

When I first started this blog, in my 50s, I wrote a post about what to do in your 20s and 30s to prepare for reaching my age. It was all about not hoarding your youth, about teetering about in heels, but also about protective behaviors like sunscreen. Blowing it all out, pedal to the metal, anatomy to the wall, have you ever noticed how many idioms recommend not holding back? For youth, that’s mostly appropriate.

But were I to write a similar post now, I might keep it to one line:

Build reserves

When I was young and got sick with flu, or urinary tract infections, or even mononucleosis I’d come out the other side healthy as always, without extra effort. At 66 going on 67, I’m going to have to work at recovery. And I’m highly likely to get sick again. When I’ll have to work at recovering again. So now, I am thinking I need to do more than get back to where I was, I need to try to get even healthier. Might fail. Very annoying.

One more thing to remember, or notice. Reserves are an artifact, even perhaps the primary hallmark, of privilege.

White men, for example, can screw up at work and be given another chance more easily than women. White people can fail financially and find loans, or family resources, more easily than people of color. Those with no serious health conditions can recover much more easily than those with what have traditionally been called disabilities. That’s privilege in essence.

I don’t find privilege to be innately evil, only highly susceptible to abuse, bringing out as it does human greed and deep-seated desire for agency.

So I’m grateful for being able, possibly, to rebuild after setbacks. As the Mandalorians say, “This is the way.”

I sincerely hope you all are well. Have a great weekend.

22 Responses

  1. You just expressed in such eloquent words a thought that’s been weighing on my mind lately too, about some being given so much more grace than others — by society as well as by nature itself.

    I so hope that you are feeling better and continue to recover fully. We’ve all had COVID again this summer, too — that marks a few times for me despite being fully vaccinated and boosted. I had it once before the vaccine, in early 2020, and was barely sick for only a few days — no one caught it from me. But it seems to get worse each time for me. I really hope you feel better soon, and I hope you enjoyed your trip nonetheless.

    I’ve been debating whether to subscribe to Disney+ just to watch Star Wars, and you may have just convinced me! :)

    Have a delightful, healing weekend. <3

    1. So sorry you’ve had this more than once. I’ve heard others say the second time is worse. If you do subscribe to Disney+, Andor and The Mandalorian are great. The other stuff I haven’t watched. Here’s to appreciating our grace xox

  2. When I came to your line, “and used up most if not all of the fitness I built up with the past year of hard work,” I nodded. If Paxlovid keeps you from Long Covid, I think you’ll be able to get back to where you were with that says-easy-does-hard word, Patience. If you have Long Covid, it’ll take longer, but it’s not impossible. Speaking to you from the other side of January 2022 Omicron and Long Covid, a lengthy real-estate search in a terrible market, packing, moving, and being in place for four months, I’m ready to build back up to my old level of muscle and stamina. Maybe because I had older parents who were physically active, I’ve always thought of exercise as something to do to have reserves. I remember thinking that when exercising in my 20s. During a protracted divorce, my self-care went sideways, but by 2016 and then again after the 2017 auto accident and year of physical therapy I was back to a place of strength and reserves. I have a photo at an outdoor, distanced baby shower in October 2020 where I’m strong and fit. I’m grateful for that photo because it’s a reminder that 3 years ago I was working hard to stay in shape at Coyote Hills and the community lake despite the pandemic. In January 2022, when I boarded a plane to Portland because I had to see a place in person before I put an offer on it, I was still working at staying strong and healthy. My niece’s husband commented on how fit I looked when I arrived, a day or two before their baby gave me Omicron.:) If I’d been ill, and then could have gone back to exercising, I’d have been fine though upset. When I kept trying to begin exercising again and hit the Long Covid, post-exertional malaise wall, I thought I’d spend the rest of my life at reduced capacity. Fortunately, just yesterday, after experimental long walks (2-3 miles), and days-to-weeks of unpacking that would then leave me exhausted, I find my old strength returning. I’m stabilizing my eating, and Monday I’m beginning my 5-day a week walks and weights routine. Now, and always, I do it for the reserves I’ll need to take me through to a potentially advanced age, because I come from a family of people who live a long time. If I do as well, I’d like to be in the best shape for the longest time possible. Everything else aside it just feels so much better to be in shape. So, YES to reserves. I hope you find a rhythm that works for you, and I hope you’re kind to yourself as you rebuild. It most definitely is a process. I’ll be doing it along with you. xo.

    1. Katherine, I’m so happy to hear that finally, finally, your old strength is coming back! May it take you happily to an advanced age, in your new community. I am glad to have your company.

  3. So glad to hear you are feeling better! I’ve had it twice (once also contracted in the UK last summer), and I can confirm the misery.

    I have similar feelings on privilege, and mostly feel like it’s so ungrateful not to acknowledge my good fortune to stand on the shoulders of my particular giants, my innate good health, etc. Yes, you are successful at what you do (I say to the imaginary, puffed up, possibly white, affluent male blatherer I see standing before me), but don’t be ungrateful for particular gifts you were given that helped you get there. Rant over, haha.

    I have heard a lot of good things about the Mandalorian, but never from someone whose tastes run closer to mine. I’ll have to check it out.

    1. Thank you:). Sorry you’ve had it twice. I agree, we can and should remain proud of our accomplishments and at the same time acknowledge our good fortune.

  4. Hello Lisa, I am glad that you are recovering nicely, but please don’t tax your regained strength too quickly. Your post makes important points about the hoarding versus lavish use of many resources. For example, for me, the husbanding of English books is an issue, since I cannot get as many as I would like. I want to enjoy all of my Wodehouse novels, but have to limit myself to a couple new ones a year, although there is no limit on rereading old ones.

    1. Thank you. I’ll be careful. I love that for you it’s a question of lavish or careful consumption of Wodehouse:).

  5. Glad to hear that you are recovering (recovered, I hope?). So true about reserves. The older you get, the longer it takes to rebuild, and the more critical it is that you do.

  6. You’re so right about the privilege to have the means to build reserves. After open heart surgery and pelvic floor repair, all in the same year, all I could say was « thank god for health insurance! » The hospital bills alone, never mind the doctors’ bills, were staggering. The older we get, the more we are aware of this. We’re also aware of how much work goes into maintaining our fitness, just when we’d like to sit and relax. I say this as I just finished my daily 3-mile walk and debating whether I really want to do some strength training with the hand weights. Ugh! But I am grateful to be able to do all this. Hope you continue to feel better.

    1. Jane, I applaud your determination in recovering from serious surgery. No small endeavor. Ugh to boring exercise indeed, but it has become necessary.

  7. I hope it does not take long to recover. Some seem to bounce back quickly and others not so much. At least you started from a place of excellent health and well being. You know what it takes to rebuild.

    1. Thank you. I am bouncing back more slowly than others, which doesn’t surprise me, given how terrible I felt at the outset. I don’t look forward to rebuilding, but you’re right, I know what it takes, which is something.

  8. I’m so glad to hear you’re on the mend — and still thinking so perspicaciously and sharing your insights so articulately! This was such a relevant post (and btw, Paul applauds your taste in viewing — he very much enjoyed The Mandalorian).

    This has been a year of testing my reserves — Covid last November, then this Spring a sprained ankle, a UTI, a tough dental extraction. Luckily (and/or thanks to privilege and a certain amount of discipline — privilege implicated there as well), I had the reserves, and I’ve ben trying to rebuild them over the last few months so as to tackle, next month, a trip that I hope won’t result in depleting them again, won’t include any of those events that Dr. Marc Agronin (in his deceptively titled book The End of Old Age) calls “age point events.” . . Never mind that he describes those as events that disrupt a(n older) person’s life and challenges our ability to cope — but also offers potential for new growth. Am I tempting fate too much to declare that I’m not so much in the mood for that kind of potential growth at the moment? Currently working on strengthening my glutei medii (the left in particular) as a reserve that might keep me walking pain-free. . . Does anyone else feel that this is a pretty constant project these days, this reserve-strengthening? A privilege, though, I will remind myself, and I WILL be grateful for it! Thank you ;-)

    1. You are always an inspiration in your commitment to fitness. It does take discipline, unquestionably. I hope you’re all set for your travel-I too have been working on the glutei medii, as part of trying to reengineer my sacroiliac and the muscles around it. I remember your sprain, and your COVID, and the tooth extraction. It’s a lot. And always I wonder, when to push through and when to learn the lessons of what you say can be called “age points.” I am chafing to start cardiac work again, but erring on the side of caution, given all the warnings I see about trying too hard too early in COVID recovery.

  9. So happy you are recovering! Please do not overdo. And as so eloquently stated, build reserves. I increasingly think that is the best thing we can do, and it can take longer than I (at least) tend to hope. Still working on mine and hope you are feeling better.

  10. Glad you are feeling better. Normally a silent lurker, popping in to let you know how much I love reading your posts and insights. Thank you.

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