Your Body Owner’s Manual

There’s a lot of discussion out there about how no one gives us the manual for owning a body when we’re born. How to lift stuff, run and sit and work at a computer, how much sleep you might need, what’s good posture and the like. This is, in my opinion and I can’t imagine many who’d disagree, a really useful conversation to be having. Any single variable—the state of our healthcare system, the incidence of metabolic and hard-to-diagnose (like fibromyalgia) disorders, how many of us have regular back pain, how you can buy ten million ibuprofen for $4, even just the vague sense of constriction that comes with not living in our full potential in these bodies, which gets sold to us as the norm—should be enough to perk our ears.

All that and … I’m not sure a manual is the best analogy. If your car won’t start, we have a set of diagnostic tools to figure that problem out, definitively. It’s all in the car’s manual. But you are not a car, and “mechanics” is a clunky word, at best, to describe your miraculous inner workings.

It’d be more like if you were learning to fish. You’d be fine with a more mechanical style of learning and a manual, i.e. learning the particular nuances and “how to,” if conditions were more or less consistent throughout your life. If the winds blew in the same ways as they did for your ancestors, if the fish returned to the same places every year, if the seasons were more or less consistent (or any inconsistencies well accounted for) … you’d be fine.

When conditions fundamentally change, however, then we find out who understands fishing at a fundamental level.

And we are all fishermen. That’s the kicker.

Your winds, tides, water temperatures and salinity, your seasons and even gravity and density will change. You’ll develop a certain posture from how you sit, and from your favorite sport, from how your mom carried you and the way your uncle walked. You’ll give birth. You’ll experience deep, life-altering grief. You’ll break your ankle; you’ll tear your MCL. You’ll take up yoga, and then quit, and then take up something else. You’ll go through menopause.

Even on a day-to-day scale, you’ll be healthy and then sick, you’ll be sore from a workout, you’ll have a hangover, you’ll take a short course of antibiotics. You’ll have good days where you’re floating through the world and bad days where your stomach hurts and back aches.

Your posture, gait and all around being-ness in your body will change. The entire ecosystem of you will change, true as time. What kind of manual can but point to this deep, rich, infinitely-variabled evolution? (You aging is not something gone wrong. If your manual says that, I’d suggest burning that thing post-haste.)

Your waters are changing. You are a fisherman. Now we really start to see …

Do you really know how to fish?

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