I am lying in bed, a drug-induced haze prescribed by Doctor Sam buzzing around my head when I come to the conclusion that I believe viruses are beautiful. Not the annoying, and sometimes gruesome effects of viruses, but the significance behind them.
In a world of mega cities, skyscrapers, wars, and huge dreams, a single virus is little more than a sliver of an afterthought. At least until it sucker punches the general public and goes from being a few strands of RNA and a protein coat, something specialists do not even recognize as a living organism, to the headline of every news story around the world. Viruses are nature’s way of forcing people to acknowledge the small things in life and appreciate them.
Going between school, work, volunteering, and extracurricular activities I have little time to slow down and appreciate the world around me until the common flu decides to take up residency in my lungs. Suddenly, I am forced to see things at a much slower pace. Details that flashed by become much clearer, from the stitched pattern on my quilt, to the whiskers on my cat’s nose as he peers at me wearily. I value my mother’s love much more when it is served with a warm bowl of soup, or my friend’s voice when she calls concerned.
I miss the sun’s rays warming my skin when I am trapped inside with harsh light bulbs, eating normal food after nothing but liquids, reading more then five pages of a book before my eyes slip shut in exhaustion, and hearing real conversations after a day of scripted ones. I value my health much more when it seems nothing but a distant memory, buried beneath a pile of dirty Kleenex. Life seems more sacred when it can be stripped away by something so small.
Viruses are beautiful because they force us to view life from a different perspective. The world of a sick person is an isolated one where the smallest of gestures can make a day the best in a long time, and the tiniest of entities can eliminate all future good days.
This is why, when a schedule becomes too chaotic and living is no longer the main focus of my life, I find it necessary to crawl into bed and take in the view from beneath the covers.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.