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« Wounded and blessed | Main | Made for walking »

Of health and hubris

‘For once in my life, I’m indispensable.’ I said this to an experienced mother, in the first smug bliss of new motherhood. She smiled wryly. ‘I dunno, there’s always a bottle, and formula,’ she said, bursting my little self-important bubble.

I was reminded of this two weeks ago, when I heard myself saying to my husband, ‘It only happens once every 18 months, but at this time I really am indispensable.’ I was speaking of the big, five-day conference I am event manager for. It was the day before it began – ‘bump in day’ – and I was feeling decidedly fluey. The show was about to start and me, its director, was achey and shakey and barely able to think, or get out of bed.

I forced myself out and did a day’s highly ineffective work, probably being more of a liability than an asset. Next day, when the games were about to begin, I was at my post by 7am, papers in pigeon holes, urns bubbling, tables prepared, welcoming team briefed, computer systems up and running.

I suspect lots of people asked me questions that morning, and I have no idea what I replied, or if it made any sense whatsoever. BY lunch time I was running a fever and on the point of collapse and I headed for home, where I didn’t leave my bed, except to go to the doctor, for ten days.

Each morning I planned I would go back to work, each morning I woke and stumbled to the shower where I nearly passed out. Each morning I emailed reminders to the team about the various things that had to be done that day.

Needless to say, they were all over it. Needless to say, the conference went off without a hitch. We were well prepared; the team were wonderful, and I re-learnt a life lesson. No one is indispensable, not even a mother, not even an event manager. The show goes on, and if it goes on slightly differently than it might have, that’s fine.

I hated being so unwell and missing my event. But there was also something liberating about sinking back into bed, knowing there was not a damn thing I could do. I could not save the day and it didn’t matter – others were well able to.

What we each do is important, of course it is. But one day I will retire, and then another day I will die, and the world, and the jobs I’ve done and even the people I’ve loved will keep on going. It’s a good lesson to learn.

This was published in The Melbourne Age on 25 September 2017

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Reader Comments (1)

The last paragraph is important in your reflection Clare. To learn the lesson you have is important but too many people come to the conclusion that because they are not indispensible, what they do is not significant in the lives of others. Who was it said, "They also serve who only stand and wait." Glad to hear you're recovering.

September 30, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterRod

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