Sickness in the First World

It’s the end of January and about a third of the people I know are ill in some way. This includes myself; my sinuses have been iffy for several days. One of my good friends has pneumonia, two others have migraines and another has a cyct on her thyroid. (21st century first world, where we know details on the health concerns of friends we see maybe twice a year?)

I’m at home after dinner, drinking boxed wine and sitting in a warm, dry, comfortable house. I am rich. My life is the epitome of comfort. I and my fellow Americans are proof that comfort does not equal happiness. I have clean water, clothes and shoes, a warm bed to sleep in and enough food in my pantry to last a week. (More, if you aren’t a picky eater.) Comfort doesn’t create happiness and neither does money, unless you are missing the basic needs of life. Excuse me while I go eat some more gluten free pretzels.

Last week, we lived thru a rare winter storm with no loss of comfort. Hot coffee and plenty of food to eat. It was a commone, modern miracle of engineering (and moderate planning on my part). I find this fact to be amazing. 3 days we were basically stuck at home and it was nothing more than a bother. These facts amaze me.

Maybe I starved in a previous life. Or several. It’s a common thing outside of the modern first world. Whatever the reason, I put “donation” on my grocery list today and dropped a can of tomato sauce and a jar of minced garlic into the Food Bank box when I left the grocery store today.

But during all that cold weather, our heating system blew hot, dry air at us for some 72 hours without a break. It’s cold, our bodies know this, but the air is hot and dry. My sinuses could not handle this and I became ill.

First worlders get sick at an astonishing rate. Most of the people I know are sick many times a year. We suffer from smoking, from diets full of fat, salt and sugar, from inactivity, from isolation, from the thousands of doses of mild poison.

No matter where you are or what your circumstance, you suffer pain. If rude server was the worst event of your day, or if the worst of your day was a beating and threat upon the lives of your beloved family, you are in pain. The richest nation on Earth at this time is rife with illness.

Everyone, everywhere, is in pain.

What gives you comfort? I’m not asking about what makes you comfortable, because we already know that being comfortable doesn’t really solve problems. What gives you comfort? What is the act that eases your pain? Whatever it is, track it down and learn it well. Then learn how to do it for other people. Because there are other people in this world who will need it. Not all the people, but some. When you learn how to comfort, the people who need you will find you. If you can grow yourself and your world to include these people, you too will be rich.


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