I used to think of my body as nothing more than a machine. A series of components that function in predictable and purely mechanical ways to get a job done. To hold me, nourish me and keep me alive.
When something goes wrong, treat the component at fault as best we can and move on. Not dissimilar to the way in which we traditionally think about our organisations.
But then a few years ago, something changed for me. My health began to slip. One inconvenience after another. I bounced through a series of diagnosis, and to be frank, got mightily fed up of the body that was failing me in minutely inexhaustible ways. Mostly without reason. Intangible and tangible mechanical faults, that whether I liked it or not changed the way my body could look after me, and the ways in which I could lead my immediate life and my life for a life-time thereafter.
I treated the symptoms of each of my problems individually, logically, mechanically. Taking each condition separately, treating the symptom, applying its fix and then tackling the next. But the problem was that it just didn’t fix ‘me’. It relieved the symptoms, sometimes created new ones, but didn’t actually cure me of anything. I was in a downwards spiral.
I wasn’t yet 40. Still living in that age where I was yet considered young. It was madness. I didn’t drink or smoke, wasn’t overweight, and here I was floundering around in a body that felt old, with a mind devoid of spark. And for a time, I let that flow with me. Resigned to the way it was. ‘What could I do about it’?
And then something clicked. ‘What if’? I thought ‘Everything is connected’?
It’s a simple thought. To many of you, particularly our health care and holistic readers it’s perhaps an obvious connection, but for me, it was a revelation that changed the way I consider my body, my soul and ultimately my life.
It was with a wild leap of faith and not without some imagination that I began developing a picture of myself as a whole physical being. A machine that pulses.
And that machine needed something more than treatment of its malingering symptoms. It needed attention, care, love of its whole.
Believe it or not, thinking in this way took a lot of courage. It required a change of mind-set not just about my body but about my inner self too. It was a little seed planted, that over the coming months and years took me through some of the toughest and the most valuable experiences of my entire life.
From thought to action wasn’t an immediate step. I needed time to process, to believe, to make the idea feel real, alive. But then one day, I decided, ‘enough now’ and I went for a swim. I was so scared. Terrified in fact. Not because of the swim, but because of what it represented. I knew that from that very first breath of chlorine that I would be changing my life. And I didn’t know what or where I was going.
I’d never swum for leisure before. Could only manage 2 lengths before I had to stop to rest. 12 lengths later I got out. Out of breath and hurting from the effort and the rather bad swim style.
But it was a defining moment. And it changed me forever. Here, in my life I had taken control.
That one swim turned into a swim membership, yoga, a new diet, a divorce, a new life and an almost new body along the way. Just over two years later, I don’t recognise that past me anymore. I’ve discovered, or re-found, or simply allowed to come into existence an inner me that I never knew was there. That body that was failing me now holds me and holds me well. I haven’t cured myself. There are still some problems that are part of my biological make-up that no matter what I do I can’t undo or fix. But what I have done is change the way that these mechanical faults affect me. And some things I’ve wiped right off the map.
It’s a journey that never stops. As my physical being finds a balance within itself, developing its possibility, so does my mind. I’m finding the world anew. And it’s finding me. A shared journey exploring how my body and soul and mind, and the world are, in fact, one.
And perhaps I’m not a mechanistic being after all. I am a system. I. I am.
But here’s the thing, you and the world we are all in is a system too.
And should we treat our world as a mechanistic thing, made up of a series of separate components?
This way of thinking is convenient. It gives us quick fix possibilities; address the faulty component, treat the symptoms and move on. But what if, just like me, everything in this world is connected in minutely, infinitely, unfathomable, impossible ways? All of them beautiful.