what's an emergency, anyway?

I've been thinking a lot about what's an emergency in my life and what's not.  Maybe because emergencies big and small have been vying for my attention:  meeting space emergencies, grant deadline emergencies, truck-making-a-squealing-noise emergencies, who's-going-to-take-off-work-with-a-feverish-child emergencies.

And while I've been mulling about Emergencies, also this thing people say has been rippling up over and over again:  Nothing is more important than your health.  Maybe a belated response to turning 40?  I don't know.  But I keep turning it over and over, trying to figure out exactly what that means, in a practical everyday kind of way.

And I think I believe it's true:  Nothing is more important to me than my health.  Except maybe the health of my beloved ones.  I would sacrifice my health for them, but other than that: nothing.  Because I want to be strong and vital and present for this life--especially for my daughter.  You do too, I bet.  That seems pretty reasonable.

So, as I've been contemplating these two ideas--the What Is An Emergency idea and the Nothing Is More Important Than My Health idea--I've been reminded that the things we treat as Emergencies tend to take our eyes off our own Health.  Our stress levels stay sky high, we decide we have to stay up till all hours to finish something, we eat like crap, and we stay in front of the screen to hit send at the last second instead of making it to our yoga class.

Right?  That's not just in our house, right?

The Emergency idea and the Health idea have been hanging out together in my noggin' so much that they finally merged.  And I started asking myself this:  "Is [insert potential Emergency-maker here] more important than my health?"  

Dude.  Stress, lack of sleep, shitty eating, and not exercising all cause disease.  So, I'm going to be honest here, even though I feel weirdly uncomfortable about it.  This is the way I've actually been asking it in my own brain:  "Is this Emergency worth going to the hospital?  Getting cancer?  Having a heart attack?"

And when I put it that way, the answer is almost always no.  Or even NO!  No no no no no!

I might sound like a crazy person talking about the hospital and cancer and heart attacks that can happen for all kinds of reasons, but you know what?  Just because stress-related disease happens slowly doesn't mean it doesn't happen.  The frog in the pot does eventually boil.

Is your business more important than your health?  No.

Is this piece of theatre/music/art you're making more important than your health?  No.

Is showing up for that commitment you committed to when you were feeling very committed more important than your health?  No.

Is showing up for a loved one who needs you more important than your health?  Sometimes, yes.

It feels oddly definitive for me to write those No answers up there.  Because I love working hard on something that feels worthwhile, and I know there's huge value in that.  

And still...

It's been a huge perspective shifter for me to ask myself: Is this particular Emergency worth being the frog in the pot?  And to learn that for me, the answer is almost always no.