Lots of 19th century “innovations” are gone for good reason: horse-drawn wagons, the Saturday bath, walking across continents, surgery without anesthesia… novelties like these are lamented by no one except history buffs and masochists.
But one 19th century institution missing from our world is a true loss: the health retreat. Back in the day they were called sanatoriums: resorts set up for the “improvement or maintenance of health, especially for convalescents.” Today the idea of withdrawing from life to recover a bit health is so odd that most people, hearing the word “sanatorium” translate it as “nut house.”
My oh-so-slow recovery from my latest medical travail makes me long for this old tradition.
I ache to check out of my life for a time and into another, one where meals are prepared and laundry is done and my duties consist of napping, reading, and taking long walks through woods and meadows. (more…)