A Different Kind of Courage

Death is the topic of today’s post. If that bothers you, now is the time to stop reading.

I had COVID-19 earlier in the year, and wound up with long haul COVID symptoms. Mostly, it was confined to a slight shortness of breath and racing heart rate. Then came September and October, when most of the west coast of the US was on fire. The extended smoke inhalation made things so much worse. Since October of last year, I have been so severely short of breath (and energy) that I got winded going up a flight of stairs or walking a block. Gasping for breath, sweating, I was in severely bad shape.

I’ve lived a rough life. There have been many times where I was pretty damn sure that I was going to die. An unavoidable fight with a gang. Black ice on a cliff road with no guardrails. Getting robbed at gunpoint. Getting shot with a hunting bow and arrow. I have learned how to face death with a certain amount of equanimity and courage.

This was different. Suddenly being almost completely incapacitated, and facing the possibility that the damage was permanent, I came face to face with my mortality in a new way. You see, no matter how bad the odds I had faced before were, I still had a fighting chance each time. This? This was no chance at all. I’d never really faced death like that before. Seeing nothing that I could do to change my fate, my equanimity and courage deserted me.

After an initial bout of depression that followed this, I got into learning what I could about my condition. And I learned that some COVID long haulers do get better with time. I also learned that scarring from smoke damage can be healed, in some cases. I have been doing what I can in the time since to help these processes. And I am a lot better now. I am not healed. But I am improved enough that I have hope that I will fully recover, in time.

And I have learned something, and that something is what I am trying to talk to you about today. After all, I am a man of Odin. It’s kind of my job to try to teach about and help with death.  Obviously, even if I do fully recover from this, I shall someday have to come face to face with this again. I will, after all, one day be old enough for my strength to start failing. Just like everyone else. And there ultimately won’t be anything to do about that. I can see that I need to start cultivating the traits that will allow me to face mortality in that way with equanimity and courage. Not really sure what those traits are. I guess figuring that out is where I start, then. I advise you all, no matter how young you are, to start figuring that out yourself. You don’t want to come face to face with all of that unprepared.

2 thoughts on “A Different Kind of Courage

  1. Welldrinker says:

    Brushes with COVID and other things over the past little while have placed me in some predicaments that I had not prepared for as well as I should have. As an Odinsman, I honestly kind of thought I’d have met a quick and violent death by now, I’ve certainly put myself in enough situations that that was likely, but Odin has seen fit to keep me alive. A longer life kind of seemed more terrifying after having oriented myself towards death this whole time, and the pandemic and it’s threats of permanent and long lasting damage have only exasperated the situation. This led me through a few hard points of existential crisis and despair, and a bit of faith deconstruction as well. In the times this has driven me back to reading, stanza 71 of the Havamal has jumped out a lot, where it says:
    “The lame can ride horse, the handless drive cattle,
    the deaf one can fight and prevail,
    ’tis happier for the blind than for him on the bale-fire,
    but no man hath care for a corpse.”
    While I don’t think Odin is any less demanding of his followers, I feel like he expresses at least a certain sympathy here (or at least his trademark cold utilitarianism) towards those of us who are less than perfectly able bodied. If there’s one lesson I’ve learned from the Old Man, it is that everything can be useful, that there is value to be found in all things.

    So I would be remiss if I didn’t say that the value I have received from your writings has been huge. From my days as an eleven year old boy reading uppsalaonline in the middle of a spiritual crisis because it was the only thing I’d found thus far that made sense with the experiences I was having, to today where I still recommend your work to the new heathens wanting to learn more but worried about traversing the minefield of neonazi and folkish literature. I and others around me have found immense value in your written wisdom, and it wouldn’t have mattered if it had been a paraplegic putting it out there. I know you don’t know me, and of course I don’t assume that this is super comforting for someone who is struggling the way you are, but I just need to say thank you for the work you’ve done anyways. All my good luck to you in this struggle of yours.

    • Greetings,

      Thank you for your comment. I thought that a part of it warranted discussion in a post, which is here:

      Two Kinds of Sympathy

      I am glad my writing has been useful to you. And it is comforting to read what you have to say here. I am not really active in the heathen community, and it is good to hear that parts of it at least find some value in what I do. It is also good to be reminded of stanza 71. Such advice is of course of value to someone struggling as I am.
      You say I do not know you. Yet you are an Odinsman who believed he would die young and violently, and has struggled with figuring out how to live instead. You understand the value of Odin’s style of sympathy. You put yourself in harm’s way. You dislike neonazi trash and folkish foolishness. In some ways, I think I do know you, brother.

      Wes thu hal,

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s