Do you ever ask yourself, while listening to the safety instructions on an aeroplane, if you’ll really put your oxygen mask on before fitting your child’s mask, or helping your partner or fellow passenger?
Would you, when it comes down to it, realise that you can’t help anyone else until you help yourself?
It’s a safety measure we tend to accept in an emergency but in day-to-day life we can tell ourselves we’re too busy looking after everyone else to try to help ourselves, as we gradually suffer more aches and pains, loss of sleep and depleted energy which doesn’t help anyone.
Have you thought about what it’s like to be a healthy, fit partner or child living with someone who is overweight or obese? Who’s the one who carries the newly washed clothes up three flights of stairs for them to dry on the balcony? Who’s the one who routinely takes the dog for one or two walks a day? Who always has the energy to clean the house, to play with the children, to participate in their swimming lessons? Who packs all of the boxes when moving house?
I can guarantee you that it’s not the one who is carrying excess weight. That person is likely to suffer a niggling knee injury that worsens with each new kilogram. They’re understandably tired a lot and fatigue easily.
And then, who will have to look after the obese person during the ageing process? Of course, you’d gladly, naturally, tend to the person you love but how happily or effectively can you cope with multiple hospital runs, rehab sessions and holidays that involve minimal walking when you’d always hoped to do the Camino Walk or stroll through the streets of Venice?
It’s not that the healthy lack compassion. We always have empathy for people we love and try to help but it’s also fair to ask how hard is the person who is overweight really trying? Well, you probably know the answer to that and you probably also know that it shouldn’t be a battle.
It’s ok to ask who is really being selfish? When someone chooses their life to be half-lived, it will affect everyone around them, particularly their family. It’s painful to watch someone you love not care for themselves.
If someone chooses to be as healthy as they can be, it’s the greatest, most inspiring and admirable act of love, generosity and, above all, selflessness.