During last Sunday’s walk with my new Exerstriders, I felt my left foot, left lower leg, and left ankle becoming tight and painful. I made it home and tried not to despair but the thoughts that flooded my mind were that this was a disaster I wouldn’t recover from. Catastrophizing bodily malfunctions, despite a decade of psychoanalysis, persists as if to prove Freud’s repetition complex is true.

Kelly DuMar, knowing nothing about my ankle but dealing with a head cold quoted Virginia Woolf in her daily message and was then kind enough to send me a PDF of an article by Woolf entitled, On Being Ill (I am a big fan of Kelly’s daily PhotoStream message. You can find her at http://www.kellydumar.com/blog).

While I wasn’t bodily ill in the same sense Woolf was talking about, I was uncomfortable in my body, and I loved these lines from the essay:

“Considering how common illness is, how tremendous the spiritual change that it brings, how astonishing, when the lights of health go down, the undiscovered countries that are then disclosed, what wastes and deserts of the soul a slight attack of influenza brings to light…..”

Now I had a phrase to describe my situation – the lights of health had gone down. Now I had words for it, I began gathering together what I knew about my body and life. I recalled that I have felt this tightness and pain in the past and got over it. Buddhist wisdom assured me that everything changes, nothing lasts forever. I soaked in the tub. I did some foot exercises.

I walked today and it wasn’t as uncomfortable so I’m happy about that. I like that Woolf mentioned the spiritual change that happens when not feeling well – as I think it is my spirits that get down when suffering bodily affliction. But suffering is part of life and usually will pass, at least that’s what I’m trying to remember.

What do you do when something isn’t right with your body? I’d love to know.


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