By Philip Gull
Is SCA good for your health?
The ancient Greek poet Archilochus, the original Dr. Doolittle, once said: ‘a fox knows many things, but a hedgehog one important thing’.
The modern philosopher Isaiah Berlin turned this into an intellectual ‘game’ (‘game’ here meaning something very different from ‘fun’, unfortunately) and tried to classify people according to their foxness or hedgehogness.
Are you, my dear and likely by now disinterested reader, a fox or a hedgehog? Do you have one overriding idea, self-conscious motive, a single lens that you view the world through? Or do you have a variety of perspectives, a range of experiences, a collected and often unconnected stream of ideas and motivations?
I think I’m a hedgehog. I don’t have lots of plans, or ambitions, or multiple things that I’m focusing on.
I have my own monomania, and my monomania is this:
Every morning, I wake up, and I try to be healthy.
That’s not a rhetorical gesture, or me simplifying myself into a 500-word entrée.
The only thing I care about is my health. If I woke up tomorrow morning and genuinely, truly believed that SCA would be bad for my health, I’d call Marc and drop out that afternoon.
I haven’t always been a hedgehog.
In my younger and more feline days, I was a fox.
I had eclecticism with the best of ’em.
Unfortunately, when I was 17, I fell quite ill and had to drop out of school for 2 years. Like many people who have suffered long-term illness, I constantly hope, and wonder if I’m back to being ‘100%’: that alluring, pre-illness time when I was a one-man Eden of well-being – except that rationally, I should know that I really wasn’t.
And, like so many people who have suffered long-term illness, I occasionally go about ‘health’ the wrong way. I make ‘health’ and ‘not being ill’ the same thing in my mind, and I start to live defensively, indifferently, within myself and deep within myself. I live like I’m still ill in an attempt to ensure I don’t get ill again. And living half-ill is no kind of health at all.
I’ve read a lot of SCABs over the last year. A lot about the stress and the pressures and the fissures SCA can create. I’m sure there’ll be times when my health, in the narrow sense, isn’t great: when I’m tired, when I’m psychologically and emotionally drained and demotivated, even if I eat my body weight in Echinacea.
But for my ‘health’ in its broader sense, I hope – I really do hope – that SCA will be good for me.
This might be hopelessly naïve, and I might well be proved wrong a week, a month or a term down the line. But I’ve got to try. Because I really, really want to get back to my carefree, careless, creative, confident self. I want to try to add some fox to my current hedgehoggy state.
Healthy people don’t think about their health day to day, don’t worry about it, don’t obsess over it.
Only people that haven’t got it think about their health.
There’s another caveat: while I’ll claim I’m a champion of day-to-day thinking, but I’ve also been given a timeline of sorts. Most people with my illness have a relapse, often quite serious, in their early-to-mid 40s. So getting somewhere by the time I’m 30, or 35, isn’t so much ambition as necessity for me. And hopefully SCA can help me with that.