The strange thing about chronic illness is that it still has the ability to surprise me. I’ve been feeling a bit under the weather this week. Nothing too intense. Nothing indicative of my sudden participation in this pandemic in ways I do not which to participate. (Although, to be fair, I’m pretty sure that we’re all tired of living through historical moments). Just tired and achy.
And then last night, about 10 o’clock, I sat up in bed, convinced I was going to vomit. I didn’t, but the nausea drove me to the basement guest bedroom. It’s cooler down there, which sometimes helps. The stomach screaming stayed with me until the wee hours of the morning, when I was finally able to fall into an unrestful sleep.
Kate says: care.
I’m reading a collection of Wendell Berry’s essays this semester. In “Feminism, the Body, and the Machine,” he writes:
Do I, then, want to write faster, easier, and more? No. My standards are not speed, ease, and quantity. I have already left behind too much evidence that, writing with a pencil, I have written too fast, too easily, and too much. I would like to be a better writers, and for that I need help from other humans, not a machine.
– The Art of the Commonplace, p. 111
Speed, ease, quantity.
Too fast, too easily, too much.
Are these not the marks of our culture?
Last night’s nausea and fitful sleep force me to slow down today and ask myself: Have I been caring for my body the way I should? Meh. Exercise is mostly on point. The food is what gets me. I don’t have a regular appetite, so some days I don’t have anything other than a protein shake. Other days, I feel ravenous. But I dislike cooking, so I go for the easiest option. That’s usually vegetarian, but woman can only eat so many salads and plenty of vegetarian options are processed and full of junk I don’t need. And then, of course, I’m your stereotypical emotional eater. So it’s all over the place.
And I really can’t do that anymore. Not only because my liver gets quite angry, but because I’m closer to 40 than 30. I fully believe in the whole “second puberty” thing. My body is just different now.
To care is to slow down.
Do I really need to eat that? Think that? Say that? Post that?
Do I even understand what a “need” is?
To care is to look beyond the immediacy of this moment, the hunger for more, and consider the consequences of our choices.
Let the reader understand.
7 thoughts on “Five Minute Friday: Care”
I’m closer to sixty than I am fifty…and I’m still on a journey to learn to care for myself. You pose good questions. We (by that I mean I) easily lose sight of the difference between wants and needs. We can use rhetoric to turn a want into a need. I do it with myself all the time. This I know. I NEED more of Jesus and less of me. Now I need to want that, too.
My Dr literally told me she could scream with frustration at the lack of care I give myself. I also have a chronic illness but I also have a child with complex needs so the priority is not myself.
Yet recently I’m understanding her frustration I’m exhausted and in pain and feeling pretty useless for my son. So yes she is right I do need to care for myself.
Yet why is it so easy to care for others than one self?
Speed and ease and quantity
have become my bosom friends,
and they really work for me;
and so, dear heart, I won’t pretend
to be something that I am not,
creative, and a Great Artiste.
That stuff takes what I ain’t got,
and I don’t mind it in the least
(and don’t think it’s a vile attack)
to be blocked from the Poets’ Mingle
as a kind of rhyming hack,
master of the witless jingle.
It leaves no anguish in my soul,
for good quick fun is how I roll.
I am sorry you are suffering with chronic illness. Many of us have food issues. I love your honesty and your reminder that we need to take good care of our bodies.
On the other side of 70 in two weeks – when I don’t care about my body and health? I pay the price.
Good questions to ponder.
Thanks for sharing.
“To care is to look beyond the immediacy of this moment, the hunger for more, and consider the consequences of our choices.” I, too, struggle with the tension between self care and pushing the limits of a healing body because I “should.”