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.