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In the Body

Posted in Life

I just got off the phone from a long conversation with mom. As I’ve written about here before, she recently had a severe cardiac event, and had a shunt installed. Since then she has struggled with her health and how she feels; she has the best medical team possible, and her heart condition is well-managed. However, it has forced her to confront the state of her body and more than that, its existence.

Intelligent humans often spend too much time living in their minds while neglecting their bodies. Photo by ana reinert.

My mother is a very intelligent person, well-read, well-educated, and employed in fields where she uses primarily her mind and her words to succeed. Like many of our kind, it is easy to exist primarily in the brain while ignoring and even neglecting the body. This was an ongoing problem: on my previous visit to Chicago before she fell ill, she told me about how she’d recently received her first massage.  Before getting it she’d felt terrified because after spending so long ignoring her body, what would happen when she connected with it again?

On the phone today, she was comparing the way she’s feeling now to some of what I go through with fibromyalgia; She’s been feeling exhausted after short walks to the farmer’s market and lamenting how much she hates getting help, both situations I can empathize with a great deal. Despite my intellectual bent, I have never in my adult life had trouble being ‘in my body’ — because my health forces me into awareness of it and has since my late teens. I think this says a lot about who I have become, with a lifestyle that allows me to revel in my body and a writing career that focuses, in part, on some of the more lusty aspects of our mortal selves.

I am thrilled that Mom is investigating getting various kinds of physical therapy not just to strengthen her body as she’s doing now, but also to make her more comfortable living there. As we closed our conversation today I told her, “if you have to live in a body, you might as well enjoy the benefits of it.”

She seemed take it to heart, but it also reminded me to make sure I’m doing everything I can for my own body too. Between my work and moving this month, I’ve not had enough time to enjoy and nurture it. Guess I’m going on that social bike ride this week after all …

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