As I approach 30 I find myself meditating more often on the idea that everything in life is fleeting.
This concept is visually manifesting itself in the physical, namely speaking my body. I am recognizing changes in my physique, small signs of wrinkles here, a gray hair there, the slow path towards decay starting to become apparent. It is humanizing and humbling to think about mortality. But it can also be daunting.
Yet at the same time it’s also showing me and reminding me of the absolutely incredible change that our bodies are capable of. If we take care of our bodies, they show it. They can reward us in the most amazing ways, from merely functioning harmoniously to helping us get through a strenuous or tough situation. We can ‘glow’ and shine, and if we tap into ourselves on a cellular level, we can even slow, and perhaps in some cases, stop, the aging process. (more on aging and ageism etc. another time).
I think about stories of instances when people have had to survive in awful conditions – and miraculously their bodies managed to keep them alive. Or people who participate in crazy sports events, climbing, running, swimming, fighting… and their bodies are able to kick into overdrive and keep going. And I think about cases when people have been able to turn their lives around and become healthy, morphing over a period of time such as after periods of sickness and bad habits, for example. Seeing those types of transformations really impress me. I know how hard it is to change, especially when something is so ingrained in your way of life as food or (lack of) movement are. And when your body seems to revolt against you, when neither you understand what is wrong, nor do medical professionals, I can understand the gratification and relief when your body becomes yours again. When you feel in your skin and in control.
But the truth is, so many of us do not have healthy bodies. We have chronic disease, we have dependencies and vices. It is also true that some of these health conditions we have little or no control over. Yet many are things that are a result of what we do to ourselves. Sometimes it is lack of education, others lack of access, and sometimes, pure apathy. I have such frustration when people I know have no desire to make changes to take care of themselves, to move their bodies, to refuse that candy. I know I have no place to tell people what to do, but if the science is there that there are rather simple ways to keep our bodies running more smoothly, then I think we not only should follow it, but we should encourage others to as well. Because it really does effect us – the pain, suffering, and hospital bills related to these lifestyles can be reduced.
As I consider having children and what that would do to my body, I am both terrified and also intrigued as to how our bodies can handle this huge endeavor. It is absolutely mindblowing to think that some people are capable of growing life inside themselves, and that their bodies are fully equipped to handle all the stages to produce a new being. From having the correct mix of hormones to allow for the environment to hold a baby to providing the right nutrients to the baby as it develops, to actually releasing a human into the world who is fully formed and ready to start its own life.
The more I read about it and talk to other women about their stories, the more I hear about how things can and do go wrong. It is alarming to think that there are so often complications in the process. Sure, some may be preventable and some may be detectable early enough to counteract. But still there are so many doubts and questions along the way.
But somehow the human race carries on. In fact, there are too many of us, which also is cause for concern for the future. That’s a topic for another day.
As for me, I am trying to take care of this one life, this one body. Please help me if I verge off path.