The most important thing?

I was having an interesting conversation with one of my friends today. She was saying that at times like this, she realizes that health really is the most important thing in life and nothing else matters without it

I had to disagree. To be honest, I have always disagreed with that. I remember being pregnant, and people saying it didn’t matter if my child was a boy or girl, as long as my child was healthy. I would nod in agreement, but in my head I would think “and what if my child is not healthy?”

I am, obviously, eternally grateful that my children are healthy. Not because I think health is the most important thing in the world, but because illness is such a bitch to deal with and because with illness comes pain and a risk of loss, and of course I can imagine nothing worse than having a child in pain or losing a child.

There are many people that are not healthy. That have some kind of chronic illness that they will never get rid of. If we say that health is the most important thing in life, then what do we think of these people that don’t have it, these people that are lacking “the most important thing”? Are they less? Do they deserve less? Can they expect less?

I would counteract and say that love and happiness are the most important things. Of course many of us do not have love and/or happiness, but there is always hope, regardless of health, that these things can come. It might not look the same as somebody in good health would have, but it is still happiness. Poor health does not preclude someone from finding joy in life.

When I tried to explain this to my friend, she said that if somebody is healthy they can change their lives and make themselves happy, but if somebody is not healthy, than even though they can try their best, it’s not the same. That may be true in theory, but in practice, I see no evidence of it making a difference. We all know perfectly healthy people that are miserable and do nothing to make their lives happy (or that try very hard to change their lives and be happy, but seem to get struck down with poor luck at every effort), and people that are not healthy and yet strive every day to be happy and have lives full of joy and love. So even though perhaps those that are physically healthy have more opportunity to be happy, it’s not like they’re necessarily taking advantage of it anyway. Indeed, I might say the opposite, and say that those that have health issues to overcome try harder to be happy. They recognize how precious time is, and how important it is to make the most of it, either because they are facing a shorter lifespan or because they know they are facing times when they are not going to be able to feel up to enjoying much.

Anyway, really I’m just musing. Hearing someone say that health is the most important thing certainly feels different when one is facing significant health issues. Of course I know I most likely will not be sick for long, I know I will most likely one day soon say I am cancer free and stay that way for years, but I also know that might not be the case. If it turns out that I do not get to be healthy again, I hope that I will never look back at my life and feel like I lost the most important thing. I hope I will be able to look at my life and feel like I’ve always had the most important things…love and joy.

I would add that I am certainly not upset at my friend, not at all! I was pleased to get myself out of the house and spend some time with her, and her opinion is one that is very widely shared. I would however also, however, suggest that people perhaps not say out loud that the most important thing in life is something that the person your speaking to has recently lost and may not get back for a long time. It would be like telling somebody recently divorced that the most important thing in life is a happy marriage. It might be one’s truth, but to say it to someone who has recently lost their marriage would be rather inconsiderate, don’t you think?


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