Tested Faith

An excerpt from the fictional non-fiction tales of Man’s Journey: A Love Story about Life.

I always vacillate between whether life is a movie or a video-game. I know it’s fiction, I’m just not sure which type. To help me ponder this dichotomy apparently, I was recently struck down by a minor illness. Cold, flu, who knows, who cares. First it hit my friend. I laughed a little, secure in my ability to manipulate space-time and all things spiritual while feeling sorry for her lack of faith.

In my view, sickness is preceded by sadness or stress. So in that sense, illness stems from a common source whether your primary foundation of existence lies in a mechanical or spiritual belief system. So either your physical body is worn down and susceptible to disease or your spiritual fortitude is weak and welcomes negative energy into your life.

We can plainly see that not everyone gets sick even when exposed to the same environmental conditions. Why do some get sick while others don’t? There’s something beyond the simplicity of “germs” and “viruses” and exposure. But what? Plus, people’s recovery times vastly vary — but why?

An early influence in my philosophy about life, the zoologist Desmond Morris mentioned in his book The Naked Ape how he believed many forms of sickness to be related to our underlying primate grooming needs. In other words, humans subconsciously use ailments as a means to connect with fellow humans. If someone gets a cold for instance, it’s because he requires comfort and the sickness invites others to take care of him.

I’ve used my current belief for quite awhile to explain sickness, and so far it holds up to the limited scrutiny I’ve applied. The primary reason I maintain this belief is because it helps me to feel as though I’m in control of illness. As long as I’m not sad or stressed, I’ll be fine. If I do get sick, then I know I caused it with my lack of appropriate mental maintenance — something I can work on. Another benefit is that it scares me into keeping a positive attitude — I dare not concentrate on things that sadden or stress lest I get sick.

As it happens, my friend was actually feeling a bit stressed and sad — so her recent illness fits neatly within my model. Under my theory, proper mindfulness could have prevented her sickness once she realized her sad/stressed state. She could have said, “hmm, I notice I’m out-of-sorts, I better adjust my attitude and focus on the great things life has to offer rather than the worst aspects I can imagine — or else I’ll likely induce some sort of physical ailment upon myself.”

Could my friend have played the game better? Or was she scripted to receive her uncomfortable condition? Was an unstoppable wave of negativity coming her way, causing her initial stress and sadness, and then her subsequent physical ailment? Could mindfulness have helped? Is every stimulus mere potentiality, our reactions forming scenes and situations based around our thoughts and emotions? The question becoming, should we accept our fate or fight for the path we prefer?

Well as it turns out, I started feeling a bit off-kilter. Did the stress of my friend’s condition put upon me the impetus to get sick myself? Am I just a wannabe follower forever treading in my friend’s footsteps? Must I simply resign myself to the narrative before me? Could I utilize mindfulness to talk myself out of sickness? Is it my duty to fight against such forces?

Christian Science for instance says that the belief in sickness is my error, God simply doesn’t create such things — I do, through my confusion. My other takeaway from Science and Health, is that we don’t exist within a physical reality, it’s simply a simulation of sorts, thus we’re not limited by the material realm — we create the world through thought.

Even if this is true though, I must be mindful and well-disciplined enough to accept and practice this belief. Do I have that ability? Can I ignore the stimuli that says otherwise? The slight chills creeping down my limbs, the little aches appearing around my body? The tiredness clouding over my mind?

Long story short, I did not have the ability to manipulate space-time and all things spiritual. I had a high temperature and low energy, really bad headache, and couldn’t sleep due to discomfort.

I remember back when I was younger, there was an incident in which I was overcome with sickness. Nothing major, but I was very uncomfortable. Eventually, I got so sick of that sickness that I marched out of my room and into the garage — and closed the door behind me. It was go-time, I was about to get down and dirty. I don’t quite remember the specifics, but I got a bit rough and sickness left after that.

But having just thought about that story, I realize that I have a long history of quarreling with sickness. What this tells me is that I’m “energized” by illness, it’s a problem to solve, a challenge to overcome. So by engaging with sickness, I’m inviting its presence. To remove sickness therefore, I would have to pay it no mind — not ready myself for battle.

I tend to see sickness as a game every time it pops up, a game of can-I-overcome-it? I always refuse medicinal-aids based on that premise: that I will defeat this by my mind alone. One obvious flaw in the game is that if I avoid illness from the start, I can’t win, there’s nothing to play. I’d have to get slightly symptomatic to prove its presence, then dismiss it from there — then I’d win. But that never happens — whenever I get symptoms, I get lost to the illness, focusing only on the ride it takes me on, the total takeover of my physical being.

I’ll admit this other aspect too: in a group, when you’re the one that’s well, a lot of responsibility gets put on your shoulders. Suddenly you go from a dude that just shows up whenever the dinner-bell rings, to a dude that has to fend for himself or even a dude that has to start taking care of others. Yikes. I’ll further admit that I shrink from responsibility, it’s just my nature. So did I feel a sense of relief when I transformed from being the only healthy adult to a poor sickly patient, umm….

And so ladies and gentlemen, I think we have our answer. It was not germs or improper hygiene, nor even a lack of faith that caused illness to manifest within me. No, I was sick simply because it was lonely at the top. It was the shortest route to resigning from a leadership position. It turns out that I am the lazy-good-for-nothing that my friend always accused me of being. But on the plus side, that means I truly do have influence over illness…. Faith restored!

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