Without a doubt, there are many people in the world who have been dealt shitty hands. And I mean like, bottom-of-the-barrel, once-in-a-lifetime shitty.
There’s so many diseases, illnesses and disabilities out there that, currently, professionals are discovering and naming new ones as we speak. In the time it took me to write that sentence, a new disease had been identified. And when a disease is identified, it leads to another subgenre that categorize the different types of that disease. It never ends.
But for the majority of people, like me, who have thus bar been fortunate to live a healthy life, it is flat-out impossible for us to truly appreciate our prosperity. We can’t possibly know what it’s like to have a deadly, rare disease where it is actually warranted for people to go on Facebook and say “FML.”
I can’t appreciate what it’s like to live cancer-free, because I have never had cancer before.
I can’t understand what it’s like to have two healthy, mobile legs, because I’ve never been confined to a wheelchair.
I can’t grasp the beauty of having vision, because I’ve never been blind.
Unless you’ve actually experienced something like that, then it’s simply inconceivable to know what it’s like to live under such unfortunate circumstances. You hear all of the time how we “take life for granted,” and we certainly do — there’s no doubt about that — but that is because we can’t realize just how much we take life for granted until we’ve been dealt a raw hand ourselves.
If you’re a cancer survivor, then you appreciate your health more than most. If you overcame a devastating injury, then the ability to walk means more to you than the general population. And if you once had a near-death experience, then life may carry more value to you than others.
I try as hard as I can every single day to appreciate what I’ve been given in life, but, even so, I still can’t possibly fully appreciate it until I’m met with sudden adversity. And I hope that day never comes.
But let’s not even dwell on that. Any idiot can appreciate the fact that they’ve never had cancer. But let me tell you something that we all are guilty of taking for granted — and that’s the act of not feeling like shit.
About three weeks ago, I became afflicted with a stomach virus. It was terrible. I couldn’t go 15 minutes without a trip to the bathroom, and in between, I had nonstop stomach aches. It would have sucked if it lasted an hour. In my case, it lasted a week.
I took it like a man. It’s a stomach virus, it happens to everyone. I knew that. But that still doesn’t mean it didn’t suck. And every time my stomach acted up, and I felt like a baby alien was moments away from popping out my chest, all I could think about was how grateful I would feel once I became healthy again.
Once my stomach virus passed and I was back to my normal self, I would be euphoric, I said to myself. I would not complain about my job, I would not moan about how hot it is outside, or why the Mets can’t making the goddamn playoffs. Instead, I would just exist in a state of eternal bliss. And that’s simply because I would no longer have a stomach virus.
And then it hit me. I’m sick for a total of about — knock on wood — three weeks per year. Why does it take those three weeks for me to appreciate the other 49 weeks when I am in perfectly good health? And then, like the typical spoiled American, once I healed, I appreciated life for about one day, and then returned to my monotonous, everyday grind where I silently hated everything.
Three weeks later, I’m the first person on the planet to catch a cold during a week that never dipped below 85 degrees. As a result, I once again yearn for better health and realize how lucky I have it when I am not sick.
So forget appreciating the fact that you don’t have cancer, or Lou Gehrig’s Disease, or that disease where you have to wear sunglasses even during the daytime, just appreciate the fact that you don’t have a runny nose. Or a headache. Or an itch on your foot that you can’t scratch because you have shoes on.
In short, just appreciate the fact that you don’t feel like shit. Because if we did, this world would probably become slightly more tolerable. Not immensely more tolerable, but slightly.
Too bad it will never happen.