The Sick Room
( Originally Published 1916 )
THE newspaper pages are filled with tides of vigorous life. Advertisers exploit their goods, theatres display their attractions, there are the activities of crime, of politics, of sport; the virile stream of humanity leaps and sparkles beneath the reader's eye.
And all the while a great part of these readers are in a condition where the arena of strife does not interest them, and the warmth of the world's blood chills them. I speak of the sick.
They are shut up in darkened bedrooms, they lie in hospital wards, they sit solitary by the window of the sitting-room, or hobble about with crutch or cane. They are the wounded in life's battle, the driftwood upon the banks of life's stream.
So here's a word for them.
Do not imagine that because you are not well you are out of the game. Opportunity is still yours. Some of the best and finest work done for the human race is done by the sick people.
You may no longer be a centre of active work in the business of money-getting, you cannot go to your office nor attend to your .house, but you can do better than that. You can be a centre of cheer and encouragement to all who know you,
If you will put away self-pity, if you will not complain, if you will be just as courageous and intelligent in the business of being unwell as you were in the street and mart when you were well, if in your weakened body you will maintain a stout heart, you cannot realize how you will radiate life and power into all who come in con-tact with you.
The sick room may be the temple of the house.
There's a little old blind grandmother in a certain home who, by her spirit of sanity and her sense of human values, has reconciled her daughter and son-in-law who were drifting toward alienation, brought a wayward granddaughter and a foolish college grandson to their senses, and governs that household not with a rod of iron but with a fairy wand of subtler power.
There is a man, once active in great affairs, a figure in the money world, but now sitting help-less with paralysis. He is just as brave and hopeful now as ever. Around his affliction have bloomed priceless flowers of love and tenderness, of whose existence he was never before aware.
Your sickness may be a privilege. It will show you, if you can take it heroically, the very best things in life.
You are out of the game of getting-on, but you are placed where certain factors of life of inestimable value may be made clear and usable to you.
In fact, the best part of living is not monopolized by the healthy people. Sickness has its spirit compensations. Life is very great and wide and high, it has vast mysteries that active people miss. It has reaches of thought and feeling they cannot know.
In your quiet room you may find your soul, your real self; you may have experiences so rich and strange that, when you grow well again, if so be that shall come to pass, you will look back upon these shaded and idle days, as the traveller who has crossed the desert remembers the oasis.