Survival

Yesterday I woke up with the worst chest pain I have personally experienced. It faded throughout the day, but didn’t fully go away for 24 hours. Thankfully (sort of) it was just due to anxiety, not any more serious health concerns.

But there’s a lesson in there — at least, that’s what I’m hoping.

In the last few years, my body has begun asserting (rather harshly) when I have pushed it beyond its limits. Which, unfortunately, I tend to do once or twice a year. I can no longer do standing room only concerts, I need more sleep than I used to, I have to be extra careful in hot weather. These things feel like limitations, but in reality it’s my body forcing me to get my act together when I have abused its resilience for so long.

I was recently reminded of the importance of asking one’s body what it needs. A nap? A snack? Water? To go for a walk? To curl up under a blanket and ignore the world for a little while? Any given item may not be possible in the moment, but it might be later. And even if not for a while, knowing where your body is at and what it could use provides an opportunity to offer empathy to the cells and sinews keeping you alive.

Because after all, that’s what it’s about, right?

My answer to people who ask how I’m doing lately is “surviving.” Because that really is what it feels like. This year has been positively grueling, and despite there being a number of good things, the difficult ones are a specter the likes of which many of us have never faced before. We grieve. We work long days. We are challenged by emotions. We find a little time for rest. We do it all over again.

I don’t know when things will be better. But I hold onto the hope that they will be, and in the meantime, that together we can keep surviving.

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