Focus in the Fog

Keeping Up

There is no cure for Ménière’s disease.

I’ve heard that over and over, and, yet, for a few months of focus, of clarity, I let myself believe I was cured.

But as soon as fall brought sniffles and crazy weather, my meniere’s brought fog. The fog brought fear, and the fear brought the panic that my life as a teacher was over.

The fog keeps me from standing without falling, from driving, from doing all the things teachers have to do in a normal year, and — as most teachers will tell you – the last few years have been anything but normal or even sustainable for a healthy body.

Panic is the enemy of good decisions. It tells me to go back to technology, to find a way to work at home for more money, for security. Panic, in the guise of planning and over-planning, has me applying for safety jobs I don’t need yet. Most of all, it keeps me from staying focused on the one thing — my art – that has the power to get me through the fog.

Today, while I was at work strategizing how to keep all my very full plates in the air, a neighbor recommended to my husband a movie on Netflix called American Symphony. I have grades and a paper to finish, but we decided to take a break and watch it. Ostensibly the movie is a documentary of composer John Batiste’s journey from band camp to band leader of the Late Show to a Best Album of the Year Grammy win in 2021 against the backdrop of his wife’s battle with leukemia. At its heart, the movie is a clarion call to all artists to focus on the work, of that creative spark within that matters more than money or likes or accolades. Art, in all its form, as Batiste exclaims in his acceptance speech, is there to “reach [a] person at a point in their lives when they need it most.”

I burst into tears at those words, knowing that the way out of the fog is to shed all the concerns that distract in the name of survival and get back to fanning the creative spark that will get me through school and work even when I’m literally falling down.