I was playing Twister with my kids this morning. Bent over in some inhuman configuration, my face came inches away from my saggy knees. As a forty three year old person, I am familiar with laugh lines and stretch marks, but saggy knees? This is a new one for me. You know the trajectory of the journey has switched into downhill mode when you discover your body aging in ways you can not even find fathomable.
It was one of those well-timed moments where I received a physical manifestation for the thoughts that have been going on in my head.
If you read my blog, or know me as a person, you might recall that around this time last weekend, I was in some fairly dramatic, self-absorbed, “pay attention to me” territory. While I intellectually understood that they were emotions that occur every year around my birthday, comprehending that information did not stop my from taking a full spectacular dive into that pity pool. I knew come Monday or Tuesday I’d be swimming for the stairs, ready to get out of the pool and relax in a lounge chair. But the during is, well, the during.
Aftermath is a real asshole- the kind that can’t resist an “I told you so.” As a blogger and a person who regularly broadcasts every emotion I have, I had written proof of these “what about me” episodes. I really wanted to delete those posts, to pretend I wasn’t that shallow, horrible person. But, let’s face it. Sometimes I am.
I have a lot of very kind friends who see me through these episodes. I was texting with one such person who reminded me to accept kindness at face value. She told me not to question when people are trying to help me or to see some ulterior motive or to feel like a nuisance but to simply accept people loving me and wanting me to feel better. It’s good advice.
After that, we moved on to talking about her life (imagine that!). Within our conversation, she divulged that a member of her family is facing a health problem that will change his life, and that of his loved ones, forever. I won’t divulge more than that because she deserves privacy. But I was reminded of the gift of a healthy body, a strong mind. No matter what stupid things I say, write or do, I’m still healthy enough to get up the next day and start all over again. It’s one of those things that can sound cliche, but when you really experience one of those moments, you can’t help but think how fortunate you are just to be living, breathing, moving, alive.
Within our conversation she discussed how impressed she is with the person faced with this problem. His attitude is “This is happening, but it isn’t happening today. So let’s just have today.”
I’m taking those words and running with them.
Today, I literally ran with them. I went for a run and this idea was sort of bouncing around in my head. I wore a shirt I like that has a picture of an anatomical heart on it.
My oldest son remarked
“You got your heart shirt on.”
“Yup. The anatomical heart is a beautiful thing.”
“What does anatomical mean?”
“Anatomical means this picture looks the same as your heart looks inside your body. Its not a heart shape like a valentine.”
I made a heart with my hands to illustrate my point. My mind batted those two hearts around, thinking about how love, represented through the shape of the heart would want beyond hope to outlive the boundaries of the anatomical one. How impossible that is, and I shouldn’t waste a single moment with the flesh and blood version not trying to expand on love.
It is strange how our physical bodies work in conjunction with our emotional ones. For weeks leading up to my recent meltdown, my neck was killing me. I injured it years ago, and every once in awhile, that pain flares up. This was the worst episode in a long time. I would guess four to five weeks of constant pain, not horrible, but never ending. I did all the things I normally do to ease the discomfort- ibuprofen, ice, yoga, chiropractor. But nothing helped. A few days after the meltdown, and my neck is almost back to normal. Was it my body tensing in an attempt to fight off doom, or physical pain causing a change in my mood? I’m not sure. But I know my body was trying to tell me something.
I hate these depressive episodes. No matter how short or infrequent, I come out of them feeling weak and embarrassed and like they aren’t a good indicator of who I am. But they are a part of me- like saggy knees, and aching hips, and blond hair and bad tattoos. I can be at odds with them and feel sheepish for things I’ve written and for letting people see me at my most shallow and demanding.
Or I can relegate that to yesterday. That happened, but it didn’t happen today. So let’s just have today.
Today, I am happy. I am thankful for this life and for the people I get to share it with. I am happy with this body and its saggy knees and aching hips. I am fortunate to have an anatomical heart still pumping and an emotional one that grew three sizes since last weekend.
Be gentle with others and with yourself. Be kind. Spend time in love. Let that be your today.