I went to a data conference yesterday. I know that’s not the sexiest start to a blog post, but it’s true and the inspiration for today. At the conference, we heard that people’s sense of wellness/ health has taken a dive over the last 10 years or so. If you’ve ever wondered why we are now endlessly bombarded with vitamin ads, you now have your answer. It can’t be that our actual physical health has dropped as dramatically as we voice, but that our definition and expectations around health have evolved, or undergone a silent revolution.
Not everything that counts can be counted, and not everything that can be counted counts. Einstein
On my way home last night, I thought back to my childhood and saw such a different view. My parents are doctors, so I guess I grew up with the most conservative definition. But it was also embodied in the life that I lived. So I share.
When I was but a toddler and lived in The Gambia, there was a military coup. I remember those days from child’s eyes. I remember being fascinated as we stuck the matresses in the windows to catch schrapnel and any possible shards of glass. I remember commando crawling everywhere almost as a game, same for sleeping under the bed. I remember the smell of gunpowder with curiosity, not fear. I remember trying to work out how to stand up and lie down as quickly as possible, as the floor was the safest place. Throughout it all, I never remember calculating my happiness, what this experience in my formative years would do to my psyche or my self esteem.
As ex-pats, we were then evacuated, leaving my dad, the dog, and all the locals behind. On our return, I remember seeing a bullet hole in the windscreen of the jeep – passenger side, face high. No-one had been sitting in the seat at the time. But I understood then that people may have died whilst I was in safety in the UK. I remember going to the hospital, somewhat under duress, with my father to visit those who had been injured through the chaos. There was a girl, jaundiced, who had been hit by schrapnel as she left the safety of the floor to use the bathroom. Her yellowness reminded me that I, my family and my dog were still very much whole.
It’s so easy to get caught up in our modern obsession with nutrition, self-development, wellness, betterment, muscle density, obesity propensity, hereditary conditions – and they are all valid. But whilst we race towards a better tomorrow, just for today, today I am choosing to be happy to be alive.