Weeding

While I was walking into town yesterday I started thinking, which is always dangerous. I remembered the sense of security and comfort my body provided when I was very ill. My ribs and spine and hips felt like anchors for my flyaway mind; they seemed the most real, solid things in my life, the only things I could really trust or depend on, even as they thinned and began to decay.

Now, I find a sense of what is tangible and safe in other ways. I hug my wife, and my whole nervous system exhales. I walk into town slightly too fast, five minutes later than I’d like to be, with my laptop and half a litre of tea in a flask in my backpack, and despite the weight on my shoulders and the burning in my legs, I feel grounded and secure in my body’s capacity to work and to not just endure this, but to benefit from it. I kneel on the earth at our allotment and weed around the carrots or the shallots, with the sun on my back and my mind talks to itself; of the warmth and the frustration of bindweed and how to organise the argument for my thesis and how satisfying it is to clear away the tangles from a wanted plant, so it can breathe more freely.

The latter doesn’t replace the former. There was something about restriction and emaciation that channelled my anxiety and subdued my mind in a way that nothing else will ever touch. Much like the way I can feel peaceful and content butterfly-spotting in a wildflower meadow, and how that is different to the oblivion of being drunk, and how peaceful and content don’t always soothe as deeply as oblivion, even if we are not supposed to admit to that. However, I know oblivion well now, and I know the way my external and internal lives constrict in tandem with my calorie intake and my waist circumference, and I feel like those are sacrifices I am not prepared to make any longer. I finally have too much to lose to lose weight.

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