I’ve caught a cold.
I bet you’ll say something very like that at some point in the next few weeks, but why do we use that word “caught”? I thought “well caught, sir!” “Good catch!” But, wait! Why on earth would I want to catch this particular experience? We tend to reserve this idea of catching for infections, don’t we? We don’t talk about catching diabetes, or catching asthma, do we?
With chronic, non-infective, diseases we often use the verb, “to have”. We say, “he has diabetes” or “he has asthma”. We might even add an “ic” to the end of name of the disease and claim it as an identity. “I am diabetic”, “I am asthmatic”. Why do we do that? Why do we, first of all, claim some kind of possession by “having”, then turn that having into an identity….a disease which defines us?
It gets even more interesting when we think about health, rather than about disease or illness.
We never talk of “catching health”, and we don’t so often claim possession (although people do say they “have good health”). Do claim health as an identity, “I am healthy”. I suppose we do. However, we don’t really think of health as an object the way we do disease, do we?
Maybe it would be interesting to consider what it would mean to “catch health”. How would we go about that? How would we create favourable conditions to allow us to make such a good catch?
Let me finish this little thought with a consideration of “becoming” (my favourite verb!)
Aren’t we always in a process of becoming? Becoming more or less healthy? Becoming more or less ill?
I prefer the “becoming” verb because it doesn’t objectify either disease or health. It insists on understanding that both disease and health are processes, processes which are an inextricable part of living.
So maybe I woke up having caught a cold, but I’m already becoming well!