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A month after an ER visit for another complication with her chronic illness, a friend was talking to me about her ambitious plans for an upcoming project. She knew, she said, that her body would pay a price for this exertion, but the thought of not doing it felt just as bad.

“Because what am I supposed to do? Just..accept that my body can’t do what I want and lie around? Just throw up my hands and give up?”

I know this voice. At different moments, I have asked exactly this exasperated question. For those of us living with chronic conditions, our aspirations are not separate from the aching truth of our bodies.

Which can sometimes feel like unending defeat: All those plans you made? Yeah. You can’t do any of that. We live inside this confusion: the shape we thought we were making / the shape we actually are.

This can take us to some gnarly places.

Our culture abandons broken things. Capitalism understands relationships as transactional, it elides ability and value. So when we can’t do, this gets to the very heart of our self worth. And because all of this feels so painful, it’s hard to untangle the belief that, in not-getting-well-yet, we’ve done something wrong.

C9AF75F9-DC18-497A-A66B-B3BBCF3BA8DD.jpg

When we push ourselves into shapes we cannot make, we leave our body – and its knowing – behind. When we only listen to the part that wishes this all away, we are wishing ourselves away.

And can I just say – with woefully too much experience here – that living like this is exhausting?

It’s difficult to hear what your body is telling you when you’re holding tight to a vision of how you thought this all would go. And there are absolutely times when obligations (financial, familial or otherwise) make the notion of “listening to your body” laughable.

But.

Our bodies keep demanding that we live into the stories they’re actually telling. And sometimes, when we soften our plans around our true shapes, we can hear a soft sigh of relief beneath the ringing disappointment.

Maybe, like me, you are also interested in decolonizing your dreams. In understanding that you’re not only out to conquer what lies before you but that the thing you’re moving towards is also, in some ways, moving towards you.

Co-creation doesn’t ask us to break ourselves in conquest; it includes pauses and rests, meals, distractions. It wanders. This approach to ambition includes times when it really might appear – to anyone looking – that we’re not doing anything. Because we aren’t doing anything. These shape-shifting periods are not engaged with doing at all. We’re listening somewhere else.

I don’t have a neat solution for my friend, but I know I want to draw her close in solace and understanding. To wonder together what it might feel like to dream in the waking truth of our bodies.

A month after an ER visit for another complication with her chronic illness, a friend was talking to me about her ambitious plans for an upcoming project. She knew, she said, that her body would pay a price for this exertion, but the thought of not doing it felt just as bad.

“Because what am I supposed to do? Just..accept that my body can’t do what I want and lie around? Just throw up my hands and give up?”

I know this voice. At different moments, I have asked exactly this exasperated question. For those of us living with chronic conditions, our aspirations are not separate from the aching truth of our bodies.

Which can sometimes feel like unending defeat: All those plans you made? Yeah. You can’t do any of that. We live inside this confusion: the shape we thought we were making / the shape we actually are.

This can take us to some gnarly places.

Our culture abandons broken things. Capitalism understands relationships as transactional, it elides ability and value. So when we can’t do, this gets to the very heart of our self worth. And because all of this feels so painful, it’s hard to untangle the belief that, in not-getting-well-yet, we’ve done something wrong.

C9AF75F9-DC18-497A-A66B-B3BBCF3BA8DD.jpg

When we push ourselves into shapes we cannot make, we leave our body – and its knowing – behind. When we only listen to the part that wishes this all away, we are wishing ourselves away.

And can I just say – with woefully too much experience here – that living like this is exhausting?

It’s difficult to hear what your body is telling you when you’re holding tight to a vision of how you thought this all would go. And there are absolutely times when obligations (financial, familial or otherwise) make the notion of “listening to your body” laughable.

But.

Our bodies keep demanding that we live into the stories they’re actually telling. And sometimes, when we soften our plans around our true shapes, we can hear a soft sigh of relief beneath the ringing disappointment.

Maybe, like me, you are also interested in decolonizing your dreams. In understanding that you’re not only out to conquer what lies before you but that the thing you’re moving towards is also, in some ways, moving towards you.

Co-creation doesn’t ask us to break ourselves in conquest; it includes pauses and rests, meals, distractions. It wanders. This approach to ambition includes times when it really might appear – to anyone looking – that we’re not doing anything. Because we aren’t doing anything. These shape-shifting periods are not engaged with doing at all. We’re listening somewhere else.

I don’t have a neat solution for my friend, but I know I want to draw her close in solace and understanding. To wonder together what it might feel like to dream in the waking truth of our bodies.