As we retreat from one another and the world to reduce our risk of contagion, the passing of harmful substances from one person to another, it makes me wonder about the transmission of health. Is this something that may also be passed from one person to another?
It would seem not, because health is not a substance. It would be absurd to expect to “catch” health through the air-borne saliva droplets of a healthy person, or to pick it up from a doorknob or a faucet that such a person has touched. Health is the harmonious working together of all substances and forces within a given field of energy, in such a way that that field is able to maintain its integrity while remaining in communication with the outside world. By definition, it’s a self-contained state.
A state of un-health is caused not by any particular element within the organism, but by a lack of balance. Certain necessary nutrients are toxic if taken to excess. Pathogenic organisms may be tolerated if held in check by other, beneficial organisms. Poisons can become medicines, and vice versa.
It’s always puzzling to observe how some people exposed to the same micro-organisms become outwardly sick and some do not. This suggests that the notion that those organisms “cause” illness is false. An alternative view is that a hidden state of imbalance is exposed by the illness, presenting an opportunity to re-balance a disordered organism.
Thus the opposition of “illness” and “health” is also a false one. What presents to our sensory observation as an illness actually comes out of the invisible wisdom of the healthy organism, which is trying to restore its integrity. There would be no illness without such an impulse toward health; the visible signs of sickness are simply what is to be expected at a certain stage of the healing process.
That’s why people who have survived a serious crisis, whether of a physical or psychological nature, can often find gratitude for what they have been through. Just as a candle flame only becomes visible in the darkness, their illness has stimulated their awareness of the health-bearing forces of life. Often it has inspired them to change their lives in some way for the better. It has reconnected them to a wholeness that had become obscured through the fragmented busy-ness that usually passes for normality in our diseased world.
One wholeness cannot give itself to another, but it can stand before the other as an example, as a model and an inspiration. It can seek to communicate itself, not by transferring isolated fragments, but by sharing its story. And when we behold and emulate such wholeness, feelingly taking it into our hearts, our lives, we become joined in a mysterious, greater whole, the organism of humanity.
Such examples of wholeness can be encountered anywhere — on the bus, at the hospital, through the pages of a book or the post of an acquaintance on social media. It’s in that way, for me, that health can become “contagious” — when we seek for it, recognize it, and have trust in it as our common ground, our human birthright. That is when we begin to truly live, instead of merely exist.
How are you finding sources of health these days? What gives you life, hope, and purpose? What do you want to communicate?