It’s spring. The pollen map on my phone’s weather app makes it crystal clear that anyone with allergies is probably suffering if they live in New Mexico—and most of the rest of the country as well.

It’s a mystery why my body would want to treat its native environment as hostile; after all, I grew up in New Mexico, so why should I be allergic to it? There are some who say that allergies are a body’s adaptive behaviors—that, at some point, my body learned that those pollens (and mold spores, when I lived in New England) were detrimental to my well-being. I certainly don’t remember that occurring on a conscious level, but at some point it must have. Over the years I’ve tried a number of countermeasures, from prescriptions to local honey to pressure points and acupuncture. I am better off than at times in the past, but there are still days when I must pull out a bottle of over-the-counter pills in order to be functional.

dsc_1974I was engaged in an email conversation a few days ago with a friend whose “juniper fever” is so severe that she isn’t functional much of the time. I know others who take vacations away from New Mexico each year during allergy season. I can recall days on end when I knew that, at a functional level, I really was “sick” because my body was reacting so strongly to the pollens in the air. I might not have been contagious, but I was ill.

dsc_1978 It’s a mystery, and a paradox, that beautiful blossoms cause so many people to sneeze. It’s both mystery and paradox that something so necessary to the gift of life simultaneously causes so much suffering. It’s a mystery to me how my body responds to external stimuli of various sorts—and how those responses can change over time. My mother says her allergic reactions have decreased as she has aged…I’m certainly hoping I’m wired the same way!

Do you have allergies? How do you respond when the pollens appear? Does your environment—native or not—feel like an enemy combatant? Can you both seek a cure and embrace it anyway? Can you embrace the mystery and paradox hidden within such situations?

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