Friday, August 1, 2014

Why I Didn't Write About Costa Rica & Some Words to This Body

The plan was to chronicle every moment of my 10-day, solo adventure in Costa Rica, but then it was too much. It's not that it was this indescribable experience - it was - but that wasn't the problem of putting it into words because I'm a writer, I'm pretty good at describing the indescribable. I simply didn't want to. I didn't feel like it. It was too much work...too much like work. I just wanted to read outside my casita with mangoes falling on the tin roof, cicadas humming a deafening din, and passing rains making their refreshing mark. I just wanted to explore the rainforest - even if it meant getting peed on by a white faced monkey, and do things that terrify me - like ziplining a 150 feet above the jungle floor, and experience magic I wouldn't have exposure to back home - like meeting my "soulmate horse" (yes, me, actually choosing to spend time with horses), and meet friends that I hope to continue to explore the world with. Faced with those other options, I just didn't want to write. 

I promised myself I'd get it all down - maybe even self-publish a novella about the adventure and my thoughts on women and solo travel - once I got back. I knew that was so much B.S. I knew that I'd be right where I am now, 2 weeks later with a to-do list taller than I am and new adventures to undertake and plan. This is just how writing works with me. I'm not disciplined enough to be a prolific writer. If I publish a couple decent things in my life, I'll be satisfied. It's just not how I operate. Que sera sera...

I'm more compelled to write when there is some sort of compulsion. Writing for me truly is something I have to be "compelled" to do... or I just won't (okay, the other motivating factor is sometimes the risk of job termination). Usually, that compulsion arrives when I'm either in a great deal of emotional pain or freedom, or both, as is so often the case with pain.

And so the latest compulsion to write...

I received a diagnosis - well there are more tests to run, but it's pretty clear what I have is what they think I have. The nature of the diagnosis isn't important. I'm fine. I'll live. I'm not trying to be intentionally mysterious, but with nothing confirmed it would be silly to go into that right now.

Once it is confirmed, life might be and look a little different for me (although once treatment is figured out hopefully better than it's been lately) and it's surprising to me how much that has given my universe a little bit of a jostling. The word "syndrome" never had much meaning to me - and now it's this real thing that actually has a place in my life, in my this body. I guess it never occurred to me what it would be like to hear, "You've likely had this your whole life. You'll have to make some lifestyle changes and be on medication. And there is no cure." I naively thought if something wasn't life threatening, it wouldn't be that big of a deal. Just treat it and move on. This "syndrome" will (and does) affect my appearance, and it's no surprise to me or anyone that knows me that this news would upset me. Maybe I'm vain, but whatever, there it is - negative affects to my looks bother me. And of course, I wasn't so naive to think that the words "risk of infertility" wouldn't upset me. But I didn't expect that what's really getting to me is the lumpy-throat notion that this body feels a little bit like a traitor right now!

I mean I treat it pretty darn good! Okay, I probably eat a few too many chocolate covered coffee beans when I'm feeling sleepy at my desk (3 would do the trick...8 are probably lethal), and I definitely drink too much coffee in general (that will unfortunately have to come to a complete stop now). Maybe a little too much late-night snacking, but it's usually something somewhat healthy (almonds and homemade kale chips...that kind of stuff). Portion size is something I need to watch, though. I'm a vegetarian, and enough doctors have told me I should probably have lean meats, but they don't have to live with my guilt about adorable little cow faces and an earth so polluted people in China have to wear medical masks just to walk to work, so the answer to that, at least for now, is no. But really - my body's got it pretty good! I have a pretty great, sometimes even intense, daily yoga and meditation practice. I start each morning with a green smoothie (spinach, hemp protein, wheat grass, a banana, and some blueberries). I take a multi-vitamin, a b-complex sublinqual supplement, 950mg of gotu kola, and now I'm adding to my regimen "xiao yao san" the chinese herbal supplement also known as "free and easy wanderer." Everything in my fridge is organic and local. I don't drink alcohol - don't even use soaps or shampoos with alcohol in them! I don't smoke. I don't eat fast food. I have great posture! Reviewing all of this, I want to have an outburst...something along the lines of... I'M DOING THE BEST I CAN, GOD DAMMIT!

But then I hear those words for what they really are, and I realize those words are a) 100% true and b) probably the reason why I've never experienced some of the more severe effects of this diagnosis (if that is what this is). I just want to say a few things to this body, this vessel that is merely the space in which I will dwell for however long this lifetime lasts:

Dear body,

I'm sorry. I'm sorry I don't always listen to you, when, for example, you so clearly give me signals of being full and I continue to eat anyway. I'm sorry I sometimes feed you things that I know aren't doing you any good, like cheese and chocolate and those snap pea crisps that I've yet to limit to the recommended serving size. I'm sorry I sometimes look at the reflection of you in a mirror with disgust, tugging at the parts I have decided aren't worthy, like those droopy arms handed down from generations of well-fed Lithuanian stock or the distended belly that might actually be the result of something you've been trying to say my whole life but instead I blamed on lack of willpower or just an unfairly dealt hand. I'm so incredibly sorry that I have ever even looked up the cost of a nose job - on several occasions. I'm sorry I haven't gotten that root canal I need or the new contact lens prescription I need. I'm sorry I've spent countless dollars on products to make my naturally curly hair (which is now falling out in small, thin clumps) poker straight. I'm incredibly sorry I have for decades blamed you for being "not good enough" when so many of the things I scrutinized were actually your way of saying - LISTEN, something is wrong! I'm sorry I ever thanked you for rarely ever giving me a monthly cycle when I clearly should have, once again, been listening. I'm sorry I became so attached to you and labeled you as "me" when really you are not "me." You are not mine. You do not belong to me. You are just here, a magnificent and beautiful part of nature no different than a humming bird or sunset, and you're just doing exactly what you were designed to do - stay alive and let the inhabitant know in your own subtle and not so subtle but extremely wise ways when something is wrong. I'm sorry I ignored you - blamed you or blamed myself - when I should have listened.

I forgive you. I forgive you for not being this perfect ideal that is just some random and impossible fantasy that you can't even possibly know anything about so how can I expect you to live up to it? I suppose that's another thing, perhaps the most important thing, to be sorry for, too.

And I promise. I promise to take better care of you, albeit imperfect care as the both of us seem to be rather imperfect anyway. I promise not to take you and all that you do for me for granted. I promise not to look at another body in jealousy or longing, as if to say you are not just as miraculous. And I promise, above all else, to listen when you speak.

Love and gratitude,