Ill health

I’m ill again. This time it’s flu.

It seems that as I get older, my health is becoming gradually less robust. That’s pretty much true for everybody. However, in recent years I’ve had what seems to be more than my fair share of illness, both mental and physical. From PTSD to anaemia to flu to postviral fatigue syndrome – you name it.

I remember a former boss of mine telling me not long before he retired that he had never needed to take a single day off sick in his entire career. I envy him. I certainly wish I could say the same, but sadly I can’t.

My doctor is, thankfully, very good. He’s used to patching me back together like an expert mechanic getting a misfiring engine back into working condition.

The question I inevitably have to ask myself is this: why has my health been so bad these last few years? Is it the result of bad karma, bad lifestyle choices, or simply bad luck due to random chance? Is it simply the result of ageing, is it stress-related, is it genetic? I have no answers, of course.

The lama at the Tibetan centre frequently talks about using adverse circumstances as an opportunity for practice. I’m doing my best to be mindful in illness, observing the effects it has on my body and my ability to function, as well as its knock-on effects on my emotional and mental states. I’m trying not to hold onto feelings of anger, upset and helplessness, but rather to let them arise, observe them and then let them pass away unhindered. All of which sounds great, but it certainly isn’t easy to do in practice.

Oh well, nobody ever promised me an easy life (and anyone who promises that to anybody is a liar anyway). The important thing, as far as I’m concerned, is not that my life is easy, but that it is meaningful. I hope that’s something I’m succeeding at, whatever the state of my health.

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