Ever since I can remember, my sister Cara and I have had a pretty
friendly intense rivalry about…ummm…everything. She’s my only sibling, so with only two of us in the family there was always a clear winner and loser in every situation.
Last week I taught a Human Biology class, and Cara was my assistant. (Just to clarify once more – I was the teacher, and she was the assistant. See? I win that one). We studied the respiratory system, and students did a lab where they had to hold their breath. Cara said, “Since Ms. Hazel and I are sisters, genetically we should probably be able to hold our breath close to the same amount of time.” She turned to me. “Want to test it?”
I don’t think her hypothesis of a genetic connection to holding breath has any credence, but I’m not one to back down from a chance to beat my sister at something. I said sure, and we got a student to test us. Not only did I beat Cara, but I held my breath TWICE as long. She didn’t stand a chance. Once I finally had to breathe, Cara looked at my time, looked annoyed, and said, “Whatever. You run all the time, so your lungs are super healthy.”
If I had to come up with one hundred adjectives to describe myself, “healthy” would not be on it. “Super healthy” wouldn’t even be close. Still, when she made that comment about my lungs, I thought for a minute that she’s right. I DO have healthy lungs. I AM healthy enough to run a lot. I don’t run fast, and I don’t look good while doing it (I look about as ridiculous as the American election season), but I can run. I should spend a lot more time being thankful for that and a lot less time focusing on the one body part (my brain) that refuses to function properly.
To be fair to myself, the brain is a pretty bad body part to have malfunction. BUT STILL. I can whine and complain about that, or I can look at all of the body parts I have that do work. Do you know how many people in wheelchairs would love to run even a few yards, let alone a few miles? I often feel resentful about the fact that I have to run to keep my brain working properly. I swear running helps me stay sane (which is something I discovered in college and only later figured out has scientific basis). It’s like I’m Mario in SuperMario Brothers, and running is how I get those mushrooms that make him big or even give him an extra life. Feeling small? POWER UP! GO FOR A RUN! *insert mushroom power noise here* Instead of whining that most people don’t have to run regularly to keep themselves out of a psych hospital, I should spend time being thankful that I can run.
Everyone with health problems has at least one working body part. They actually have quite a few. If they didn’t, they’d be in coffins. Take some time to be thankful for what works. Maybe it’s your brain (lucky you). Maybe it’s your lungs. Maybe it’s your left pinky. For goodness sakes, maybe it’s your butt. My grandpa has a colostomy bag – he would love a working butt. Feel grateful next time you poop au natural. It makes sense to pay attention to the parts that don’t work, but take time to pay attention to the parts that do. Maybe you can start to feel a little more healthy, which is a pretty encouraging feeling.
You might be reading this and thinking, “By George, I don’t have any body parts that don’t work. I have a pretty run-of-the-mill, somewhat boring, healthy life.” If so, I hope you wake up every morning PRAISING GOD for your run-of-the-mill, somewhat boring, healthy life. Lots of people would give everything they have to be in your position. Then go buy yourself a drink and toast to your health, because I hope you keep that health for a very long time. It’s a pretty sucky thing to lose.
It’s almost as bad as losing to my sister.