This morning I awoke with a stomach ache.
Normally I have the constitution of an ox, but everyone has an off-day. Something I ate the night before must have disagreed with me, or perhaps a particular bacterium in the labyrinth of my intestines found a way to be fruitful and multiply to the detriment of its ecosystem. I don’t care to speculate.
Whatever the underlying cause, I heard my alarm go off, and in the time it took to silence its shrill nagging –before my eyes were even open– I was immediately aware that I was uncomfortable.
To be honest, I was more than just uncomfortable: I was in something approaching real pain, and for a moment of groggy panic I felt helpless and hopeless, as if this sensation in my belly was a reinvented status quo, an unwelcome new forever as fixed and eternal as the stars themselves.
Then it happened: There is a transitory period after sleep but before true wakefulness where one can make a leap of pure imagination as easily as flipping a switch on a wall can illuminate a room. I had such a flash of insight this morning.
For an aching instant of self-indulgence I created a nostalgia for a time extrapolated from the earliest moments of our common but forgotten shared experience. My thoughts lingered longingly and lovingly on the concept that were I still an infant in the cradle, I would be perfectly within my rights to cry at the top of my lungs, and that sound alone would provide the answer to my discomfort.
What am I talking about? Let’s take my premise and extend it to its logical conclusion: Were I to cry –not just like a baby, but as a baby– eventually someone infinitely bigger and stronger and older and wiser than I am would come into the place above my contorted, emoting face. Between my screwed-up eyelids and through my tears I would see this giant try to comfort me. Over my blubbering I would hear cooing and clucking and shooshing designed only to soothe my need for sonic output and compensate for the still-unknown root of my grievance with the cruel universe that was inflicting physical anguish and woe upon my selfish and petulant self.