Dave needs his knee replaced. Jan is getting chemo. Sharon just got home from the hospital with three diagnoses. Frank is healing from shoulder surgery. Gay’s cancer is spreading. Mary’s meds are keeping her up at night. Too many to count are anxious or depressed or both. Many people I love most live each day with a significant health challenges.
I’m one of the lucky ones.
I am the oldest person in my office but still get nominated as one of the healthiest. I’ve been given good enough genes, escaped terrible toxins, and avoided enough sports such that so far I have not faced anything chronic or terminal. Depression related to divorce and death travelled on over time. I wake up pain free each morning and fall asleep with ease at the end of my day.
I am acutely aware of this privilege which enables me to enjoy everything from awalk in my neighborhood and lifting a kettlebell to giving an hour long speech or sitting for two hours enjoying a foreign film.
Nearly 18% of people in the U.S. report having severe levels of pain. Some 25 million live with chronic pain. Nearly 20 percent of Americans suffer from mental illness in any given year.
Some are obvious. Many are invisible. Some will kill them. Others will simply annoy them.
I do my best to show my gratitude for what I’ve been given. I take my vitamins. I get in small workouts more days than not. I consume less sugar, alcohol and processed foods than in the past. I finally drink more healthy tea than coffee, and this year I’ve advanced to growing my kale on my rooftop. Still, I know there are no guarantees.
I saw my brother go from being a youthful strong carpenter to an emaciated skeleton with AIDS. I saw my sister enter the hospital on a Wednesday and go completely blind by Sunday. I saw my husband be told at 55 that he’d die in two years after having been an organic gardener, a regular at the gym, and the kindest man you’d ever meet.
We all have challenges in living our daily lives. We have even greater ones in attaining our goals. For many, the obstacle is wellness.
If you enjoy good health as you read this, celebrate it. When you see another person, remember that you cannot know all of the hardship they live with each day.
If you live with a health challenge, consider a double dose of self-compassion for getting up every day and being who you are called to be in the world. Today who you are is an inspiration to me.
What aspect of your health are you grateful for?
What kind word can you say to another person who might be hurting?
If someone else were suffering like you, how would you treat them?