I’ve spent this weekend with a very dear friend of mine, who has MS. She avoids eating wheat for her own reasons, as part of an overall plan to maxmise her health and support her body. Her symptoms have progressed very slowly over the 13 or 14 years I have known her, but yesterday was the first time that we have had to take a wheelchair on a day out, to make things easier for her as we explored a lovely Cotswold market town near our home. Throughout the weekend (and indeed, always) she has been unfailingly cheerful and positive: she delights in every aspect of of life, her family and friends, and has just returned from a holiday in France to celebrate her 25th wedding anniversary.
Discussing her symptoms with her, and hearing about her latest battles with constant bladder infections and disabled parking spaces, I was overcome with gratitude for my relatively mild health problems. I also felt guilty about sometimes resenting the fact that I can’t eat grains, and so miss out on the doughnuts at work or whatever. What a small price to pay, to feel well most of the time: to be able to walk freely, practice yoga, swim with my children, run up and down stairs, and dance around the kitchen. It’s so easy to get locked into your own world, and judge things by a very narrow range of criteria, especially in a society which over-values youth, good looks and money. It’s good to be reminded that the default attitude in most situations should be “gratitude”, and I don’t have to look far to find things to be grateful for – my husband, my children, my safe and comfortable home, my extended family and friends, my relative financial security, health, five senses, my (again, relative!) mental stability, intelligence, ability to express myself, to love and be loved…….all things I take for granted most days, all worth their own weight in gold.