Why can’t life be easy all the time? Would it be so difficult to remove our difficulties? For many of us, such questions resonate especially these days. Things that used to be very simple can now be abundantly complicated. Do we shake hands anymore? Or, is it best to deploy a fist bump, elbow bang, nod-across-the room, signal flare or maritime flag to acknowledge a kind greeting from a friend? Even from those many things we might keep after the pandemic is officially pronounced no longer a threat, most of us are struggling to make sense of the new social order. For some, it may be — or seem — irreversibly life damaging. For many, it will be an inconvenience for a while, then we’ll adjust.
At least we have our health, right? The cliché, like many others, makes a good point. Anyone who has ever endured a toothache will tell you that all is well until the pain starts. Then, within hours, nothing else matters. Time stops until the anguish is alleviated. Birthday parties, long-planned trips, big presentations at work – all and each is set aside in the increasing wave of sensory-induced focus. No matter the cost, we’ll do anything to make it relent! Our previous worries have faded into some fist-clenched negotiation with God – make the pain recede and we promise to be good and stop tormenting our brother, complaining about the job, or watching too much television news.
Then, modern medicine rescues the tooth – equilibrium is ultimately restored. How long do we hold our promised repentance? With the sharp and shooting agony alleviated, our attention returns to the annoyances of the daily ritual. Is the corporal sufficient? Does mental anguish count? Maybe the saying should be redrafted to proclaim, “At least we have our physical and mental health.”