When Our Bodies Endure

I lie down and my body and the surface underneath become one, flesh and fabric intertwined. Too tired for verticality. Three weeks ago something invaded my body, something whose name I still can't recall despite having been told twice, despite having repeated it myself so I would remember, as if tasting the word would help retain it. All I know is this is not unusual. Bodies are invaded all the time. When you're alive, everyone and everything wants a piece of you. Life attracts life.

Songs from another world play in my head as my body attempts to get rid of this foreign entity. It fights and fights, sending waves of sharp pain on top of a layer of dull pain. The invader travels through my body. It's strange to imagine this microscopic organism exploring the life I contain. I heard our bodies hold more bacterial cells than human cells. What does that make us? More home than human? I find beauty in that thought, our cells dancing with all these other cells. Isn't that true of all living organisms, after all? We're all remnants of the stardust that gave birth to this world. 

There is no beauty in pain but it does teach you to appreciate beauty at a level you never thought possible. Shane Koyczan said it best: "Our lives will only ever always continue to be a balancing act that has less to do with pain and more to do with beauty". When the pain subsides a little, you feel more alive than ever before. Every small thing around you is a treasure, a miracle containing the meaning of life. In this balancing act, I endure the pain but choose to see the beauty.

Pain first: They've bombarded my body with medication to eliminate the invader and medication to compensate for the damage the first medication does. Medicine is imperfect but it saves lives, I tell myself. I am grateful. I am grateful but at the same time, I'm impatient because it's spring and I want to work on my projects and it's warmer outside and the sea is calling me. I decide to write and record something but it sounds lifeless. I decide to go to the beach but on the way back I think I might collapse. I push and push until I get home where it's safe to collapse. At this point, three weeks later, I'm wondering what's happening in my body. Is the invader still in me? Is it a side effect of the medications? The unknown is worse than the pain and exhaustion. I want to understand, I need to understand, but answers are scarce and test results are slow to come back.

Then, beauty: To relinquish control. To be born at a time and a place where we can stop these organisms from killing us. To be able to rest. To have access to fresh air, fresh water and fresh food. The people around me have never looked more beautiful. I can't work but I can still fill myself up with others' work. It's low tide and as the sea retreats, a whole ecosystem is revealed: The sand is soft, warm and welcoming; pools of turquoise water have formed around algae-covered rocks and are home to countless lives; I spot a crab on the shore, hiding under the small waves, hoping to go unnoticed. Life always goes on, all around us. It goes on within us too. I observe my own breath, chest moving up and down. I feel my heart beating, keeping me alive, never stopping. And I know, whatever is happening inside of me, my body is choosing life.

I stand up and my body and the air around me become one. Part of me feels I'm floating but my limbs are pulled by gravity like heavy rocks. A balancing act. Patience is an art that is cultivated in moments like this. Our bodies endure all sorts of tribulations from the moment we are shaped in the womb. We resist it, we resent it, for it is in our nature to move away from pain. But pain is likely to be our companion from time to time.

I tell myself to endure. I tell myself to rest and heal. I tell myself there is always beauty to be found.

I tell myself I'm alive.

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