Taking Health for Granted

[This is part three of a series reevaluating some propositions that I perceived as crucial and important in my early thirties.]

Proposition: Health — while prob­a­bly the easiest thing to take for granted — is the most frag­ile gift I will ever have. It is the ful­crum upon which every­thing else balances–I will respect and nur­ture it as such. To seek health is to seek life. They are synonymous.

Several years on, I want to think I have a somewhat more nuanced idea of health than I did when I wrote the above paragraph. In the intervening years, I’ve wrestled more with the adaptive nature of well-being and the psychological, social, and experiential episodes that frame how we define ‘health’ in a physical sense. Today, I find myself increasingly curious about ‘health’ as a political and corporate narrative, too.

It is easy, perhaps too easy, to define health as the absence of disease and disease as the absence of health. I am now less inclined to describe health in such choice-oriented, individualistic terms than I did in my thirties. Health is a much more complicated concept now. It is something that somehow involves us, not just me alone.

While I would revise the wording and some aspects of my original statement, I am nonetheless acutely aware that health is, for all its complexities, precious. On the morning I feel better after a bout of fever or flu, the first thought I have is: Why don’t I intentionally celebrate health every morning I wake up without feeling sick with every ounce of fanfare I can muster? Health is remarkably easy to take for granted, but maybe some of the ideas we have about health continue to mature with age.

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