“This was a time of life, she understood, in which you might not know what you were, but that was all right. You judged people not on their success ― almost no one they knew was successful at age twenty-two, and no one had a nice apartment, owned anything of value, dressed in expensive clothes, or had any interest in making money ― but on their appeal. The time period between the ages of, roughly, twenty to thirty was often amazingly fertile. Great work might get done during this ten-year slice of time. Just out of college, they were gearing up, ambitious not in a calculating way, but simply eager, not yet tired.”
I’m on Day Five of a strong and mighty flu. The searing sore throat, the pulsing headache, the fever, the fever+chills, the itch that crawls up your throat until you’re in tears, and the long-lived cough. The cough that lingers as a way to remind us that good health is precarious, and that we must be grateful, as even the slightest discomfort makes a considerable difference. But when perusing WebMD, Mayo Clinic, and all the other sites that reassuringly report the exact symptoms that you have typed into Google, there is no mention of the mental toll of lying in bed with nothing but your flu-drenched body and mind.
For starters, I start to feel guilty for not appreciating how healthy I usually feel. I then start to imagine what it would be like to be sick all the time and I get scared. I then dutifully think, Being healthy is a gift, what am I going to do with this gift once I’m better? The pressure to make the most of my post-flu life sets in. Worst of all, I remember where I would be if I weren’t sick in bed, which would be in my office at work, which isn’t all that much of a better option, so then I concern myself with whatever that means.
But the loudest thought that rings continuously is that the seasonal flu (without the complications, of course) is really nothing compared to the real ailments that can fall upon us. To inhabit a healthy body is to be lucky, so use the time well. As the director Baz Luhrmann advises, enjoy your body, it’s the greatest instrument you’ll ever own.