I was wondering how long it would take for me to get sick.
The office was a zoo of sniffing and snuffling. There were so many “Bless You’s” being called out after all the sneezing that I think the whole lot of us here were destined to go to heaven, despite those who didn’t believe. We’d all be swept up, the concentration of divine wishes too much for God to ignore and because He/She/It would take a pity on us, in one of His/Her/Its moments of irrational emotion, and He/She/It would say, “The sick bastards, just let them enter, they don’t know what they’re doing. Look at them clumped together, they know they’re sick, and they come to that place, sit in that one room all day, pumping out their toxins for everyone to face.”
I wasn’t so empathetic. I listened as the viruses and bacteria ran unchecked through their hosts. My colleagues’ immune systems were geared up, waging war, and these mindless fools had brought the battle front into the office! I sat in their midst, hunkered down in my faded peach colored cubicle bunker.
I ached to get out, to run out into the cold air. I craved the pure stuff of an open landscape. So what if it was pavement and cars and trucks and sculpted lawns and young trees in a commercial park? It was an open system of circulating air!
I was happy to flee the petri dish that evening, but when I awoke the next morning I felt IT. I stood up in a daze. A malaise after eight hours of sleep? No way. I walked uncertainly around my bedroom. There should be no hangover, there should be no late bedtime grogginess. I had the flu. I knew it. So what did I do? Why, I went into work!
What are the top 3 ways to prevent illness? Get ill. That’s it. The other two ways? Forget about them. The nugget here is: Don’t stay too clean. The obstacle is the way, says Ryan Holiday. In fact, I say you should get infected, not too often, but on a regular basis. Why? Because your immune system works by being challenged. It develops antibodies by taking on viruses and bacteria, and these antibodies target the invaders next time. They’re prepped. The immune system has been through the practice drills already. Bring it, is what a challenged immune system says. That’s how vaccinations work. That’s how flu shots work. In fact, there is a term for being infected by another person and developing an immunity: Active immunization. And a bonus lesson extending from this: Challenge yourself in all the areas of your life. Staying the same makes you fragile, so says Nassim Taleb.
In conclusion: Get sick early. Get sick often. Before you get old and frail and too weak to fend off the bugs.
Thank you, colleagues, for making me stronger. I will be well soon enough, and healthier than ever.
Stay dirty, my friends.
Disclaimer: This is not medical advice. This is a blog.