Let’s be honest, if there is ever a time when you don’t want a spiritual lesson, when insight is an annoyance, it’s when you’re sick. Especially with flu season hitting epidemic levels in the U.S., I’m sure more than a few of us have been down for the count these past few weeks.
As if being sick weren’t distressing enough, I fell ill while I was in Costa Rica for a week. I must have picked it up on the way down there, so three days into my vacation, I was debilitated, riddled with aches, congestion, and a feverish head fog that when vertical left me dizzy. Even my skin and hair were sore.
Perhaps in a way to divert my attention away from these ailments, I found that I was mad at myself. I consistently workout 5-6 days a week and besides an occasional bag of chips or slice of pizza (or both), I largely eat healthy. In fact, I stopped getting flu shots because I haven’t been sick in years.
I started analyzing what I did before the trip that could have led to this misstep. Where did I go wrong? How I could have been the more perfect yogi? I scolded myself for not stocking up more on Vitamin C and immune-raising herbs when I knew the flu was being widely reported.
Being sick in a developing, foreign country is highly inconvenient. I couldn’t read the medicine labels because they’re all in Spanish. I don’t know any doctors much less do I have confidence in their healthcare system. I was uncomfortably vulnerable, and totally dependent on the friend I was staying with.
And then I realized…wait a minute…why do I think just because I live a healthy lifestyle, I’ve been able to “steel” myself against illness? That’s largely out of my control. Yes, we can do things that help strengthen our immune systems, and help our cells to repair and replenish but it’s not a guarantee. It’s never a guarantee.
Blame, and playing the coulda-woulda-shoulda-game is a form of being in denial. Instead, accepting the situation allowed me to relax and notice what else was going on around me. The friend I was staying with was immensely helpful, kind and thoughtful. I even went into the warm ocean where the soothing salt water seemed to ease the painful sensitivity my skin and hair were under. A warm ocean in January? Now that’s a perk!
When we battle what should have been instead of what is, we can’t practice gratitude.
Also, I think these situations are opportunities to teach us about the people around us more than about ourselves. What do people reveal about themselves when we’re at our most vulnerable? Are they absent or present? Are they concerned or too busy? Are they delicate or harsh, empathetic or dismissive?
Overall, I’m kind of glad I was sick at this time because it showed me that this person is someone who I can depend on, our styles of attending to each other are compatible.
The stupid flu taught me something!