The Common Cold And Common Sense

Well, guess who’s feeling yucky these days.

There’s me, for one (and yes, you are right; that is written in a grammatically incorrect fashion, which just goes to show how yucky I’m feeling). And Tired of Being Youngest, who did not intend to “enjoy” spring break by coughing her way through it. And the Norwegian Artist.

It’s springtime, generally not the time we want to be on the sofa, coughing, with a cold. Blossom, original oil painting by Steve Henderson

Getting sick is a rarity in our household, but when it happens we do it as a family, and, as I mentioned in an earlier article, The Uncommon Cold, the females do it one way (we rest, sensibly, and allow our bodies to naturally recover) and the males flagellate themselves.

Speaking of self flagellation, a topic I don’t recommend bringing up in general societal interaction, it is all too easy to attack ourselves — frequently more violently than the virus does — when we get sick, because we’re not supposed to get sick. Not if we’re eating healthfully, drinking enough, living stress-free, sleeping adequately, and getting good exercise. Oh, and thinking positive thoughts.

Getting sick shouts to the world that we ate a cookie, yelled at the dog, read a book when we should have been jogging, chewed our fingernails, failed somehow, because if we had been doing everything right — which is what we’re supposed to be doing all the time — then we would live intentionally, purposefully, healthfully, wisely, and well. Always.

Well, that’s nice, and I’m sure we don’t blame the smallpox decimation of Native American societies upon their slothful, out-of-touch-with-nature existence.

While it is true that living well and living wisely — starting by not eating food products packed in styrofoam boxes and stuffed into white bags — goes a long way toward living healthfully, there are an awful lot of people sneezing out there on the handles of grocery carts, and I haven’t added, “Wipe down cart handle with sanitary cloth,” to my list of things I do religiously.

Generally, we’re brimming over with good health, but the occasional viruses do bring us down. Brimming Over, original and print, by Steve Henderson

And though it may seem as if I’m trying to avoid being accused of yelling at the dog, sickness does happen, and sometimes it happens to me. Or you. And while it can be exacerbated by our lifestyle choices, other times it is in variance to them — and telling ourselves that we’re failures because we sneeze isn’t helping matters.

If sickness does nothing else, it forcibly reminds us that we are human beings, living in human bodies, and that things happen that we do not foresee, would not choose, and wish would go away — the common cold is a microcosm of life itself, and whether we got it because we eat horribly and never get enough rest, or despite our eating well and breathing in deep lungfuls of oxygen — we are sneezing, and coughing, and lying down with a headache and a slight chill. The pain is the same.

Good, bad, and in between, life happens to all of us, and one of the wisest things we can do is recognize this and stop before we think thoughts like these (or worse yet, say them aloud):

“He has cancer? He smoked all his life, didn’t he?”

“I’m sorry to hear that they lost their house. But you know, they always did seem to spend more than they earned.”

“I heard about their oldest daughter going wild. Maybe they should have been a little stricter.”

It is human nature, when we hear about bad things happening to others, to determine why — because we don’t want those same bad things happening to us. But in the process of finding out why, in the effort of avoiding the same fate, we oversimplify, to the point that our complacency can overshadow our compassion.

Compassion for others, reaching out in love, resisting the temptation to comment — these are good things. Beachside Diversions, original and prints, by Steve Henderson.

Maybe you know people who never, never get sick, and it is strongly impressed on you that this is because they live correctly — all the time — and you do not. Don’t toss out your Kleenex box.

Everyone gets sick — somehow — sometime, and if it isn’t the common cold, it’s the agonizing heartbreaks that life throws at us and we stumble blindly, painfully through.

“God bless you,” isn’t just a phrase we use after somebody sneezes. It’s an attitude we can live each day, every moment, with everyone we encounter.

This article is linked to Thank Your Body

Like the artwork? It is available for sale — and more affordable than you think. Originals, signed limited edition prints, and inspirational posters through Steve Henderson Fine Art.


2 Responses

    1. Susan — increasingly I find myself standing on the outside, looking in at the Establishments of Men. So ugly, so proud, so cold, so unfeeling. And then I look up, and I think about the perfection and beauty and grace and love of God, and I think, “What binds me so strongly down here?”

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