The Stories our Bodies tell.
Words by George Maguire
Taking the lead from the podcast with Tony Molina of the Rewire Project, in order to have a Complete Human Experience we must be able to be in tune with our bodies. Whether it’s an achy knee or creaky shoulder, at some point in our lives, we start receiving feedback from our bodies. Whether it’s a slew of chronic pain or mere hints and whispers of wrongdoing, our senses begin to inform us as to where we are heading. We receive a forecast of the future. A prediction.
Back pain? Poor eyesight? Hypersensitivity to cold? Irrational fear of heights? Insomnia? Bloating? We put these experiences down simplistically and ignore them as best as we can; as signs of bad luck or the cruel realities of the aging process. Reaching into our early 30s, we perceive our ailments as the result of ‘too much sports as a child’ or blame our genes as ‘it’s always been this way’.
Ignoring systemic feedback is a hallmark of youth. Certainly, Olympians weren’t built on ‘balance’ and neither were movie stars or any successful entrepreneurs on TIME magazine front covers. When we are young we feel limitless. CrossFit, marathons and 24/7 hustle. We can do no wrong… and even if we do, we have the abilities to heal from almost anything. The pillar of performance stands cemented and resolute… until it doesn’t. Then you need a new map as the goalposts have shifted. Feedback received.
Perhaps if we can listen, we can receive these corporeal messages at the right time, as life lessons. If we can adopt a more mature perspective, maybe pain and illness can be read as a form lateral persuasion. That is, we are imbalanced in our attention and activity. To achieve greater and more robust health, we must widen our base and return to the fundamentals of humanity.
We can look outside of the gym; at our happiness, our relationship with nature and the sun. Our exposure to hot and cold and our inflammation. Our breathing, digestion and our physical mobility; in our bodies and habitats. These are the unfashionable pillars of life that come so free that they are so often ignored. They are less convenient to quantify and are often on the precipice of scientific study. They are easy to miss, just as they are not easy. But a house with one pillar will always fall down. More of the same rarely leads to the kind of long-term results we are looking for. As we outsource our pain, in the form of pills or excuses, we rid ourselves of the challenges of adaptation. We cannot learn about our internal mechanics if we dull the stimulus that holds all of the cues.
Do we want to be like toothpicks? The monoculture of food utensils; Brittle, singular and throwaway. Why not be a Swiss army knife, an individual that diversely capable and keenly maintained. The more we can do ourselves, the more we will empower who we are. We sense this when we pitch a tent, when we get caught without food or when swim in a lake. We know deep down that diversifying our engagement with the earth and life is about meaningful adaptation. We are too quick to shun the hard, the distant and the cold.
I remember the first time I entered a cold bath. It seemed nonsensically painful. I could not breath. Why would anyone willingly do this? But stronger than the cold was the feeling that enveloped me afterwards. One of glowing warmth and capability; compassion even. Perhaps best described as feeling ‘really alive’.
A rare feeling these days.