Saturday, June 20, 2009

Maintaining the Body Infrastructure

In August 2008 I wrote a post on “The Infrastructure of Well-being” after a visit to my cardiologist’s office following the placement of a stent in my one remaining coronary artery around the heart. Yesterday I went for my one-year follow up and was pleased to find that my heart is still beating and the EKG showed no further problems. Seems like the blood is flowing to all parts of the body. Excellent!

It has been an interesting year since that hospital visit last July. I found myself faced with having to take specific steps to get off my duff and do some serious walking, bike riding and moderation to my diet. It was a struggle at first. My legs ached and my feet were sore. The good news was that I no longer had the stress in my arms that made them feel like water logged sponges. For the most part I maintained the exercise program and my twice-weekly aerobics class. However, I found myself tending to use excuses for not walking because it was too hot or too wet or . . . You know, don’t you, how easy it is to give up on something that seems to interfere with other things you want to do. I do faithfully attend my aerobics class because taking a class is one way I have found that is self-encouraging. I have an excellent instructor who is very well trained, especially in senior fitness. Also, I enjoy the others in the class all of whom sign up for every term and have since the class began several years ago.

Two weeks ago I needed some maintenance on my pickup. The shop I go to is in Tigard about five miles from where I live. I took the truck down, rode my bike back home (in the rain) and then rode it back again in the afternoon when the job was done. I am fortunate to have access to a wonderful park system that I could ride through for almost the whole trip. I had just a few blocks to go after I left the park.

After the riding experience I realized more clearly I had not been faithful to the maintenance of my own body infrastructure. I know I have to maintain my car so I do, but my body? Having been so healthy all my life I guess I figured it would just take care of itself. You would think I would know better—and I do. I simply had let excuses get in the way. I have just returned from my walk in the park today and decided I needed (for my benefit) to write this follow up to my story from last August.

I do not believe one needs to be a fanatic about taking care of oneself. I do think, especially as we age, that it is necessary to be more conscious of what we do to maintain our health. I also know that our emotional well-being plays a large part in how seriously we make the effort to take care of ourselves. For the year leading up to my operation, I really didn’t care much about anything. I had enough on my mind to just work through an emotional malaise that permeated almost everything in my life. The operation was a wake up call to decide whether I wanted to continue the not caring or whether I wanted to change my focus and determine to live, not simply exist taking up space, but live with purpose and enthusiasm.

That decision was a turning point that gave me a new outlook and some specific opportunities to enjoy my life. A special book[1] came to me that seemed written just for me. I have heard people say things like that many times, but this time I was saying and meaning it. After reading it three times, I found new answers to my questions each time. Subsequently, I attended a weekend workshop in Denver, based on the book, that furthered my effort to regain my balance physically and spiritually. (Go here to read my review.) I know what I experienced was personal and would not necessarily reflect how others might respond. What was important for me, though, was that it worked. It is much easier for me to stay on task with my interest in living and writing. I believe that my present course is assisting me blend my inner/outer self and bring mental/emotional balance.

Other books and articles have also found their way to me, always at just the right time. I took time out to return to the ocean where so much renewal takes place for me. In short, I got off my duff and took charge of my life again. Our lives will be profoundly blessed as we determine to consciously care about life, about our family and friends. I have found a new appreciation for old friends and new friends. They give me reasons to get up in the morning and want to “reach out and touch someone!” It seems the experience is reciprocal, because I find them reaching out to touch me too. All of these experiences are part of maintaining our body infrastructure. The body is only as healthy as its mental/emotional equivalent and that is something that is entirely within our direction.

1 - The Matter Of Mind, by Djwhal Khul, through Kathlyn Kingdon

1 comment:

Inspector Clouseau said...

Very interesting piece Dan.

Part of what we're trying to do over at the Institute of Applied Common Sense is to get college students to experience, or at least consider, during their 20s, what you just described took place at this point in your life. If we could get more people to recognize this stuff at an earlier point in time, we might be a better society.