In Good Health

When I was in college I was employed by a woman in her sixties who owned a clothing boutique. The job was decent but I quickly knew I was not destined for a life in retail. I grew weary of her requests for me to provide exceptional customer service, to arrive promptly and to work more than 4 hours a week. I was just too busy and too stressed with my hectic college life to concern myself with this woman's store and her need for me to be a good employee. As is often the case with young adults, it was hard for me to relate to anyone who was not going through the exact same thing at the exact same time as me. I wasn't able to look into the future beyond the end of the semester and the papers and readings required of me before that time. Therefore, I didn't have a care to concern myself with the woman's attempts to mentor me through becoming the best saleswoman I could be or the best person I could be.

When I wasn't helping a customer, the woman and I would occasionally talk about life and I would generally complain about how hard and dismal mine was and how I wasn't sure I'd ever make it to the end of the semester let alone survive the first year after graduation. All the cards were stacked against me in this favor less, cruel, cruel world. Outwardly, she didn't have much advice for me, although I'm sure she was saying many things in her head. One time, she simply said to me, "Well, do you have your health? Because everything is going to be fine as long as you are in good health."

At the time I thought this was worthless advice. I was way to busy to worry about my health. Between then and official adulthood, as some of you readers know, I developed hypochondria and my ex-boss's words ring true all too often. There's just something truly wonderful about waking up every morning feeling strong and healthy and being able to accomplish all the things I need and want to do. Unless we've had a health scare, we all generally take this for granted, that is until we get sick.

It doesn't take a life-and-death scare to value your health. All it takes is a 24-hour, or more, period of time when we have some type of condition where we develop healthy body memory loss. Whether you are vomiting, sitting on the toilet for hours, feverishly delirious, sneezing, coughing or itching, you are 100 % unable to recall what it feels like not to feel however you do in that current moment. You know with this type of illness, there is a light at the end of the tunnel, but similar to the college doldrums, you just can't see your way out of the darkness. You can only crawl slowly, with your head down, hoping you are moving in the right direction. I suppose it is our body's way of quickly handling the situation and cleansing yourself of the particular ailment.

I'm embarrassed now to look back at my younger self who was so thoroughly absorbed in sweating the small stuff that I didn't realize that life is all about the small stuff. Every little sicknesses I've had during the past three years makes every healthy day that much better While I'm not pleased to pick up every cold, cough and stomach bug that comes my way, I'm thrilled to still be a strong, healthy person whose ailments are anything but chronic. I do have my health and it is all that matters. Not worrying about our health is what allows us to stress out about papers and readings and housework and what to eat for dinner, everything that makes life just fine.

I now see beyond the end of the semester. I am able to offer great customer service, accept constructive criticism from an employer and offer more than 4 hours of my time each week to work. I'm sure the clothing boutique owner would be happy to re-hire me. I just hope she wouldn't mind the number of times I have to call in sick while my child-rearing/caring body builds back its immunity against every gross, toddler germ it comes in contact with.


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