Went, on my GP’s advice, for a precautionary chest x-ray yesterday morning. It revealed an unwelcome little swirl of  infection in the lower quadrant of my left lung, nothing much to look at but the tech said it raised a flag that could spell pneumonia.

Had that before, a few years ago, when it responded quickly to targeted treatment. And my doc, having seen it before too, was a step ahead and had already started me on the appropriate meds when I arrived for my morning snapshots yesterday. So I had no medical reason to panic, and no contagious fever. That might be why I took in the news with stoic calm and relative indifference, then phoned home to share it, and then hopped in the car and drove to work. All just like normal, on what turned out to be a very good day of classes.

dont-panic-copyOr maybe I didn’t panic because I’ve always been a diligent follower of Douglas Adams’ travel advice.

Or maybe it’s because I had Seneca on my mind, and his praemeditatio:

The wise will start each day with the thought…

Fortune gives us nothing which we can really own.

Nothing, whether public or private, is stable; the destinies of men, no less than those of cities, are in a whirl.

Whatever structure has been reared by a long sequence of years, at the cost of great toil and through the great kindness of the gods, is scattered and dispersed in a single day. No, he who has said ‘a day’ has granted too long a postponement to swift misfortune; an hour, an instant of time, suffices for the overthrow of empires.

How often have cities in Asia, how often in Achaia, been laid low by a single shock of earthquake? How many towns in Syria, how many in Macedonia, have been swallowed up? How often has this kind of devastation laid Cyprus in ruins?

We live in the middle of things which have all been destined to die.

Mortal have you been born, to mortals have you given birth.

Reckon on everything, expect everything.

Or maybe it’s because I’m one of the lucky winners of the cortical lottery and, being a glass-half-full kind of guy, just always expect things to work out. “Optimists have a high happiness set point, habitually look on the bright side, and easily find silver linings.” (Jon Haidt)  Not sure that’s really me, or (if it is) that it came by way of the genetic lottery. But I do mine for silver.

Or maybe my health care safety net, provided by my employer the state– I work for its  Enormous State University– accounts for my confidence that the  little invasive blip will soon  be  gone, at no crippling expense to our family budget or my emotional equanimity. That’s a confidence I share with a great many state and national politicians who’ve been ranting about the evils of socialism and railing against the the very “public option” we take for granted. I hope the ranters remember that in these unsettled times, state employees like us don’t have the job security or safety net to support long-term confidence in the containment of personal health costs.

Well, whatever the source I’m grateful for the resources that made yesterday’s little bump in the road nothing to rage And I’m amused to discover that my pulmonary consultant from years back was also Younger Daughter’s softball coach. We didn’t recognize one another as doctor-patient, after a single office visit, at the ball-fields. We were wearing different hats there.

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2 Responses to “premeditation”

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