The snot season is upon us. It’s Autumn in the UK and the viruses are on the march. It happens every year. You sail through summer feeling invincible. You might have a bit of Athletes Foot or maybe a blush of Thrush, but generally, between June and August, you feel good. Then the mists and mellow fruitfulness announce the ‘flu season.
I stood in a line at my GP‘s surgery last week, waiting for my ‘flu jab. It was like queuing for bread. We were all so grateful for the lady in a white coat when she stuck the needle in. One after another, we passed down the line, in one way and out down the corridor past the toilets. My arm came up like a balloon for a few days, but thankfully, I didn’t experience and of the other possible side-effects and now I am protected from this year’s ‘flu strains – I hope…
Watching the long line of people waiting for their jabs last week made me think how difficult it would be for our understaffed overworked NHS to deal with an epidemic of something much nastier than ‘flu. I don’t want to sound scary, but if a plague descended, would be have the resources to deal with it? I doubt it.
Keeping yourself healthy has become obsessive for some. But I understand how these people feel. We seem to be teetering on the edge of disaster every day. It’s out there, on the news – the horrors of what has just happened in a Kenya shopping mall, the terrible fighting in Syria, the recent unspeakable child cruelty cases in the UK – all these events mean that focusing on your own health and well-being provides a safety net, and sense that all is well with the world, a way of feeling better about it all.
Every time I pop a vitamin pill or walk a couple of miles, I feel a glow of smug self satisfaction that I am doing something positive for the world. Here is one less older woman who will develop diabetes, Alzheimer’s, have a stroke, get cancer etc. Of course, I know that I have as much chance of developing these diseases as anyone else, but a good brisk walk, a diet of fruit and veg and a few yoga poses every day makes me feel better and if I feel better, I feel healthier. Am I fooling myself here? I don’t think so. Mind and body work together, if you let them.
I guess I am trying to shut the trauma out of my life, like everyone who gets obsessive about exercise and eating habits. But I don’t want to focus only on those things. I want to do something to make a change, however small, in the way the world runs. That doesn’t mean being a do-gooder, or thinking I’ve saved the world by voting for the Green Party. It means keeping my eyes open and recognising when I am needed and being there, even if what I contribute is very small.
This is all getting very philosophical. Not even sure what the word means… I know it comes from the Greek philo and sophia and means a ‘love of wisdom‘ – that coming together of the cognitive and emotional parts of the way we think. Love appears to have a lot to do with it, too. But love alone cannot fulfil the thirst for knowledge and wisdom, but the striving to learn about what love is, what everything ‘is’ is the beginning of our desire to find real wisdom. Passion makes us start asking questions, makes us question everything and that leads to an accumulation of wisdom and wisdom come through the passionate journey, not the arrival. I read somewhere that philosophy is a state of mind not a particular type of knowledge. It’s about keeping the mind and soul open to ideas, to passionate curiosity, to questioning and then, allowing wisdom to flow in.
Going back to that long line of people waiting for ‘flu vaccinations, in an emergency there is little time for questions and we all have to rely on the wisdom of the professionals. They have to be wise enough to get it right. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t have the questions ready and to ask them when we can. Being engaged in what is happening to you, on every level, wherever you are embraces the idea that we can all use our innate wisdom to make life better for everyone.
Is this a pipe dream? No.