Monday morning I woke up and my world was spinning. I walked towards the bathroom but bumped into the wall. I have had bouts of vertigo for five years. I never know when they will come or when they will leave. It’s like I go to bed and the next thing I know I am with Dorothy in the house that’s spinning round in the air.
While there are some things that help—the Epley maneuver; surprisingly a low dose of valium---most of why vertigo comes or goes remains a mystery. It happens and then it lets go. When it is with me, my life is very slow and contained. I listen to books on tape. I notice the amazing December weather outside my window. Most of all I remember how dependent I am on others and what an illusion it is to plan the future.
Today I am upright and my world is only slowly spinning. Here’s what I remembered in these two days: the world is layered. There’s the spin of the never-ending news cycle. Before Monday I was upset over President Elect Trump’s appointments, the losses of UNC’s basketball team, my inability to find the right presents for my children or wife, and so on. But there are deeper layers. Not being able to get out of bed reminds us of what is essential and what is not.
On our best days, it reminds us that most people across the globe can’t think about the news feed or what’s happening on twitter or Facebook or CNN. They are focusing on whether their loved ones have a bed or food or what they need in order to go beyond surviving in order at least to glimpse what it might mean to flourish.
It also reminds us that there is a deeper where we simply let go of our preoccupations and sit in the moment and let the world spin. I have a medical understanding of vertigo, but in the moment it comes, all I understand is I am part of a wave that I can only ride. I have to surrender and once again say to God “Help.” It’s a helpful corrective.
During this time of Advent, we can’t make the world behave but we can embrace those times when we stop—either by choice or circumstances—and let the great world spin without our worry or our illusion of control.