As I write this, I’m not feeling physically great. I’ve been under the weather for the better part of a week. I considered skipping this week’s post. I frankly didn’t have the energy or inspiration to write. And then it dawned on me, this is precisely the time to write. And being sick is the very thing to be writing about.
As I’ve done my best to rest and recover, while still meeting my many personal and professional obligations, I’ve come to several important realizations. First, all of us get sick. It’s how we suffer that really matters. In his letters to Lucilius, Seneca writes:
[I]f you meet sickness in a sensible matter, do you really think you have accomplished nothing? You will be demonstrating that even if one cannot always beat it, one can always bear illness. There is room for heroism, I assure you, in bed as anywhere else.
My wife will often rightly accuse me of being the world’s worst patient. I have tried my best to heed Seneca’s advice over these last few days.
Second, I’ve come to see how much of my identity is tied to being physically healthy. Who am I without physical vitality? How can I be at peace at times when my physical well-being is compromised? These are the questions that I have been thinking about. As I recover and get back to full strength, it is these questions that will hopefully remind me to be grateful for my vitality and to never take it for granted.
Finally, as I considered skipping this week’s email, I was reminded of a famous story that the comedian Jerry Seinfeld shares. Early in his career, he made a commitment to himself to write a new joke every day. It didn’t matter whether the joke was good or bad, he was determined not to miss a day. Each day he would put an X on the day of his wall calendar, and he would connect the Xs with a line forming a chain. He declared that he would never break that chain. And to this day, he has upheld his commitment. Inspired by this story, I was determined to write this post. And to not get caught up in whether it would be a good post or not. I guess to give myself a break, while at the same time not breaking the chain.
I hope you are reading this in good health. And, if you’re not, that you are giving yourself the grace to recover and the strength to suffer well.