Over the years, we’ve come to to view illness as a path that can, if we are lucky or open to it, provide a lot of illumination and healing. It’s helped us learn about levels of stress or unattended to emotion in our daily lives, or ways in which we weren’t taking care: eating on the run or not-ideal foods, not getting enough rest, not taking care of an emotional upheaval… As challenging as it has been, it has always yielded insight and agency: Illness as a path of inquiry.
When we mentioned this to our remarkable physical therapist Rachel Miller Williams she nodded and said:
I agree but prefer to replace “illness” with “wellness” in my head. It centers my focus on what I consider to be my natural state — wellness — and that I am always moving toward that light, rather than a darker identification with illness.
During a recent, first, bout of Covid, we tried this simple shift and found it to be a much better view. It dispelled the strange fear that accompanies the mysterious ever-changing virus, and helped us listen deeply to what we needed to take care of ourselves, to rest in our ability to heal.
Artist Maria Robledo sent the image at top long ago when we were recuperating: a reminder of gentle caretaking.