I wake in the morning after a broken night’s sleep. That’s standard now. It wasn’t back then, but it is now. I wake a few times a night. No big deal. It’s usually to change position or because something in the real world woke me. And I usually head back to a sleep (a good night’s sleep) or I then lie awake, my vigilance centre in my brain triggering into thoughts of the day gone by and the day to come.
By the time I get into the city, I have spent time on myself. I’ve done yoga or meditation to spend time in my body because I don’t expect the day to allow me that luxury. There’s a small part of me that craves a green juice or something similar, and if I can be bothered to make the extra detour, that’s what it will get. Otherwise it’s coffee and toast. I’m one of the lucky ones. If I skip coffee, I don’t get trumped by headaches. But I do accept that I’m probably not thinking as clearly as I did less than an hour ago on my yoga mat.
During working hours, I wear the badge of work. How much I can get done, what my tangible outcomes are, how many things I juggled and yet brought to fruition. I can keep the rising stress in check and, on a good day, I can get into the sun in a slow wander across the road to get to the food court. If it’s a sh*t day, I can justifiably eat sh*t food. If it’s a great day, I can treat myself to it. I, like others, scramble for healthy food when I feel sick. Because I ‘can’t afford’ to be sick. Regardless of if I’m sprightly or ailing, between 3-4pm, I could happily consume a Wonka factory or two.
There are two speeds at which I operate: ‘go’ or ‘stop’. I am one of the lucky ones because I can, sometimes, stop. At least in body. The mind doesn’t always follow suit. I find ‘stop’ two ways and both of those ways incur stress of its own kind. I’m ill or I book time off for longer than two weeks. It takes two weeks to kick out of ‘go’ and into ‘stop’. Then ‘stop’ feels like living.
And I’ve not even got home to cook and mind to the house and the life admin and the relationships that exist beyond the office.
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If this sounds familiar, it should. We all do it. We live in a culture that expects it, values it, promotes it and somewhat insidiously places it higher than any other alternative. And now, not only are we growing disconnected from our home and leisure lives (as if there are different lives to fit into the only lifetime we have), but we grow further disconnected from our bodies. We live so heavily in our heads that our mental wellbeing is judged by how far you can push your body before you fall down. From Tough Mudder to offering tough love, there is no room for re-calibration or regeneration.
We are running on the fumes of good health and we don’t even know it. We should all be able to sleep at night. We should be able to eat without bloating. We should be able to laugh at irrational anger and mitigate our emotional responses before they have left our mouths. We shouldn’t have to understand ‘shaking with rage’ as a weekly occurrence. We shouldn’t wish for the weekend and then spend it exhausted or pushing ourselves further on a social ‘to do’ list that puts our work one to shame. We shouldn’t have to drink to a hangover to celebrate unwinding from how we love our days. We shouldn’t crave things due to daily, weekly or monthly cycles.
From the migraines to the minor fits of hysteria, from the exhaustion to the eloquent numbness of feelings, our bodies are calling out to us to get back in them. What I experience and what you experience is not normal. This was and is an epiphany to me. It doesn’t have to be this way. It shouldn’t be this way. We occupy a world getting addicted to cortisol, to stress, and we don’t know how to unhook it. We accept the furrowed brow as inevitable and then the entire gamut of what are actually symptoms of dis-ease, of a life that isn’t serving us: PMT, IBS, allergies. These are not normal.
We take more care of the roof over our heads that the physical shell in which we are housed. We will do our housework but we won’t do our health work. We can spot what needs maintenance on our house, but we wait for a crisis before we hand our bodies over to the professionals to patch up as best we can. We research paint colours more than we research our food or work styles.
We don’t rent our bodies, they aren’t swappable. They are an integrated and crucial element of our existence. They are our homes and our barometers, our sanctuaries and our connection to everything else material and energetic on our planet. It’s no wonder that we can’t care for our environment when we are so disconnected from our own individual ecosystems. I sit and watch videos like this and wonder at how we got here. I watch videos like this and thank Nature that it’s still so relatively easy to restore balance. And tomorrow, when I wake from writing this in the middle of the night as can happen, I will look after my home just that bit better than yesterday. I will fire it up on nutrients not chemicals or stimulants, and bit by bit, take ownership back of the only home that truly matters.