Friday Nov 07 2008
How often do we relate to our health as we grow older as something ‘less than’ what it was in the past? I am reminded of a dear friend in her 20s who has lived with polio all her life. For her, the baseline of health is so very different than mine, and yet, as she grows older, she too is caught up in the ‘less than’ comparison. Over the past few months, I have been discovering another way of relating to my health—both present and future. I have been discovering that I am not my health or any story I may have about what was possible in the past or what’s possible in the future for my body. I am learning how to be a patient patient, a middle-aged woman committed to my healing process.
Being a patient patient is surrendering to ‘what is’ and being committed to our own healing process—no matter what that involves. For me, this shows up these days as learning how to balance regaining my strength after several months of illness and surgery and the need to keep moving my body and stimulating my mind to support my beleaguered immune system and enhance my recovery. The balance shifts constantly: one day there’s an abundance of energy and a desire for much conversation and the discipline of exercise, the next requires much more rest and less contact with other people. It’s like dancing moment to moment with something I cannot control—my own body—to the tune of my commitments. A difficult dance at times, and one that reminds me again and again:
Stop.And then, in the stillness, comes the realization. None of us want to “die before we get old” (as The Who suggested in 1965). When our bodies break down or undergo changes that limit our ability to function in the world, we’re faced with the fact that we’re not going to live forever. We are mortal. We are human. And this amazing body we have to experience life with came with an expiry date. Tough pill to swallow, whether we’ve enjoyed the game so far or whether we’re aware that we haven’t really even joined the game yet.
Whatever health challenges we may face, we have a choice: to be a victim of our circumstances or the creator of a health that has not yet been manifested but which can be. What a wonderful opportunity to not only heal our bodies, but also to discover our own patience, creativity, discipline and strength.