My body is growing strong, as I recently wrote in “Substantial.”
It’s thrilling, but I’ve been frustrated with my body, too. Once it could fall asleep in any position and awaken without a hint of stiffness, and endure without complaint just about any hardship I opted to put it through.
The last several months, I’ve dealt with extreme sensitivities. If there’s a hint of new plastic in a room or if someone on the elevator before me was wearing perfume, my body tells me so by swelling up. It’s hard to breathe, or to swallow, effects that persist long after a given trigger does. The worse the exposure, the more my body treats everything and anything in the environment as toxic, and the longer it takes to heal.
Days like today, I’m angry with my body for failing me. How could it do this to me? How could it make me dread every trip into the outside world as I struggle to find the magical formula to leave me inflammation free?
But then, there aren’t many days like today.
I awakened to tragic news related to a dear family friend. That news sprang to my mind as I cursed my body for not being as indestructible as I want it to be. I thought, too, of one blogger’s sentiment that some of us have more minutes than others.
My body has given me many minutes. If it breathed its last breath tonight, that final gasp wouldn’t diminish in any way those glorious moments preceding.
We walk around thinking our bodies are too short or too tall, too fat or too thin, too pale or too dark, too too too, or not enough. I hear and see dozens of signs of this every day. Much more rarely do I hear, “Damn, body, you done me good today!”
Why do we do this to our bodies, seeing what isn’t instead of what is?
I want to see what is.
This body gives its son a lap to sit on.
This body’s nose smells his hair.
This body’s lips kiss his perfect forehead.
This body’s hands hold his smaller ones.
This body’s back carries his weight when he is sleepy.
This body ran two marathons and, barefoot, a half-marathon.
This body swam in near-freezing waters to stand atop a rock of ice.
This body has dived from great heights, trusting the water below to yield to it.
This body’s arms hug the people I love, the connection reminding me how real and substantial they are.
This body’s toes revel in the feel of the ocean’s sand, and its ears in the sound of the waves.
This body’s mouth has spoken difficult words with shaking voice and savored the shape of loving ones.
This body’s fingertips have typed out hundreds of thousands of words that have connected me with friends around the world. Its eyes have read many friends’ words.
This body has housed me, been me, carried me, lifted me, rocked me and rolled me.
This body’s heart will someday stop, but will do so having beaten–if I am so lucky–a couple billion times.
Until then, this body, my body, deserves not my curses but my sincerest thanks.
I am thankful for this body.