A Weekly Column
Joseph Walker


 Tell the truth – you haven’t paid much attention to your spleen lately, have you?

 Don’t worry – you’re not alone. I mean, it’s not like there’s a National Spleen Association out there working to increase public awareness of spleen diseases and disorders. We don’t have volunteers going door-to-door to raise money for spleen research, or rock stars joining forces to produce a music video for “Our Ductless Friend, The Spleen.” And through years of professional and amateur late-night channel-hopping, I don’t recall ever zapping across a 24-hour spleen telethon (“Come on, folks, let’s get these telephones ringing for Jerry’s spleen!”).

 From a public relations standpoint, the spleen has a couple of problems. The first has to do with function. Everyone knows the basic job description for hearts, lungs, brains, stomachs and kidneys, right? But by show of hands, how many of you know that the spleen is where your body’s required lymphocytes are produced? (What’s that? You’d like to know what a lymphocyte is before you answer? Exactly my point.)

 The second P.R. problem for the spleen lobby is romantic. Not only do we understand the important bodily function other organs perform, but we have extended their function from the physical to the emotional. One who has been deeply hurt by a loved one is said to have “a broken heart.” Love has likewise been known to addle the brain, put butterflies in the stomach or land a blow like a kidney punch—which, of course, takes you breath away.

 Now try to conjure up a little romance with this line: “One look at you, baby, and my spleen started pumping out lymphocytes like crazy!”

 Not exactly heart-warming – if you’ll pardon the expression.

 Of course, if you’ve ever had spleen trouble it’s a different story. A friend of mine was involved in a motorcycle accident. Thankfully, he was wearing a helmet so it wasn’t nearly as serious as it could have been. But nobody ever said anything about spleen protection. For months afterward, every breath he drew reminded him – painfully – of the existence of his spleen. It was three months before he could run again and six months before he could participate in sports – and all because of a bit of tissue near his stomach he didn’t even know he had until it was injured.

 It is human nature to take certain things for granted. Most of us don’t talk about our health unless there’s something wrong. Nobody runs into the office and announces, “Hey, the bus was right on time this morning!” And when was the last time a renter called the apartment manager to report that the dishwasher is working splendidly?

 Which is OK, I guess, as long as we’re talking about machines, buses and bodily functions. But too often we carry that same cavalier attitude over to our relationships with other people. As long as our family, friends and business associates are fulfilling our expectations of the respective roles they play in our lives … well, that’s their job, so it’s no big deal. But then something comes along to disrupt the smooth flow of our lives – a spouse has to leave town for a few days, a close friend moves away, a key secretary is out of the office on sick leave – and suddenly we realize how important that individual was to our success and happiness.

 Only by then, sometimes it’s too late.

 How much better would it be for all of us if we’d take a little time each day to express appreciation for the little things other people do to make life so pleasant. It isn’t as difficult as it might sound. Just pick out two or three little things that your spouse does without fanfare each day – and blow a bugle or two in gratitude. Or you could send a card to a friend for no other reason than to simply say thanks for being a friend. Or you could acknowledge the daily efforts of teachers to make a difference in the lives of your children

 You get the idea? I’m not advocating anything revolutionary here – just heightened sensitivity to the people and circumstances around you. Notice them. Let them know you appreciate them. And make sure your appreciation comes straight form the heart.

 As opposed to the spleen.

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— © Joseph Walker

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Look What Love Has Done:  Five-Minute Messages to Lift Your Spirit. 

"How Can You Mend a Broken Spleen?  Home Remedies for an Ailing World."

Christmas on Mill Street - An All New Holiday Novel!