Advice From a Monk on Appreciating My Body–Also, Turtles.

I have seen the face of exhaustion…and it ain’t pretty.


I’ve been here before, but I forget.

This month has been stressful. Between hospital stays and the amount of days doubling each week that I’ve had to go in and get IV’s—I’m just tired. It’s that kind of bone tired, dizzy tired where I feel like I’m walking around on auto-pilot. My medicine is all messed up. There isn’t enough time in the day and the nights to get the amount of sleep my body needs. I feel like I’m running a decathlon every time I go grocery shopping. I think it has never been this bad, I have never been this sick and tired.

But I have.

I’ve been here a few times before. And I don’t think it’s getting worse, necessarily. I think I’m just getting older and the shock that this isn’t something that I can outgrow is really shaking me. That’s what’s really making me tired—forget the physical symptoms. I’m stressed that the goal doesn’t even seem to be figuring it out—who has time to figure it out when we’re just trying to keep my body functioning from one day to another?

I keep thinking I need a break, I need a break from my body!

I think a lot about my sister –a total vagabond. Even though we talk a few times a week, I rarely know what state she’s in from day to day. She literally has the ability to get up and leave any situation she wants and move 6,000 miles away. And I’m stuck in the same situation twenty four hours a day, seven days a week. My breaks are when I can eat a sandwich and not spend the next few hours in excruciating pain. They’re when I can take an infusion and not spend the rest of the night with a massive migraine.  And lately? I’m not even able to catch those little pauses!

So here’s what I have to tell myself right now: I have a choice in everything I do and everything I deal with. I chose this body. Every day for the last twenty-two years I’ve woken up and I’ve chosen to be in this body. I choose it when I have migraines and nausea so strong I can’t even talk through it. I choose it when all I can eat is white bread and Gatorade for weeks at a time—and I choose it when I can eat deep fried sushi rolls. I choose it when I can’t even devote a single spoon to making plans for my boyfriend’s twenty-third birthday. And I choose it when I can throw parties that last until four in the morning.

I once took a class on Buddhism and we had a real Tibetan monk come in to speak one day. He told me that being in the human body is a rare and special thing. I mean think about how many forms of life are on this planet: cats, dogs, bacteria, trees…And you got lucky enough to have a body that you can accomplish so much in. He compared being a human to being a teeny tiny turtle living in the ocean. Somewhere, in all that water, there’s a single hoop and the slim chance that you’d pop your little turtle head up into that hoop was the same slim chance of being brought into the world as a human.

So I’m trying to be a happy fucking turtle.



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One thought on “Advice From a Monk on Appreciating My Body–Also, Turtles.

  1. Carri

    These bodies of ours are amazing things without operating manuals. Although we would like to believe that we are all the same under our skin, it isn’t so. Some people are rare. You are one of those people that has a different body. Time will tell if we can find your operating manual.

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