When the Diagnosis is Life
Updated: May 23, 2022
I used to think of the body as a slipcover for the mind, a mere protective case, suitable for stuffing with facts and experiences, like so many trophies, gold plated statuettes, or engraved plaques. I could imagine installing my brain into a perpetually moving machine, a kind of insulated and isolated throne, from which I could consider the world without pain or fatigue, without real interaction with the hoi polloi.
But I’m afraid these two reluctant allies need each other, faltering creatures who spoon feed and whisper and embrace in their narrow bed of one human being. Sometimes my mind dreams of bearing my body, an annoying child, to the end of a dock or bridge and simply tossing it into the water and watching it float away or sink beyond recognition or rescue. I am done with you, I resolve, and wiggle in hatred and disgust, as if I could kick and punch myself free of flesh and become pure mentality.
It is much harder to have pity for this body that has borne, has suffered, and has endured. It is not at all comfortable. Its injuries and scars were not self-inflicted. Some of the damage was reparative, tonics somewhat poisonous but necessary, exploratory surgeries that were only partially illuminating. The diagnosis, as it chances, is life, and life of a hot, buzzing interior network, uneasily connected to the world, a world that is not fair or just or right, a perplexity that cannot be solved or reduced, a system that overloads and underwhelms, that overheats and shorts with shocks and sparks.
There is no other way for me but to live in belief of another day, a day that might at least be different, that might bring novelty, innovation, or relief, an unexpected turn in the road that I don’t control and no longer wish to predict. Perhaps the act, the art, of walking is all there is to know and all there is to occupy oneself, planting each foot only to lift and extend into the unknown, assured that there is yet ground to bear my weight.