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[In which I discuss how stimulants damaged my health, how health and weight are different, how our culture kinda sucks, and how I plan to fight it.]
This last year, a lot of projects got put on hold when I made the decision to quit my ADD medications. The reasons I did this are manifold, and I’d been planning to quit for quite some time. Knowing that I would run into a massive stage of withdrawal, I carefully planned out how I would quit, who I would turn to for social support during that time, and how I would wean myself off my medication. Then I threw all those plans out the window.
I did this because of an interesting conversation I had with myself back in early July. I was feeling fairly miserable, and thinking about all of my upcoming projects and unclear priorities. And I wanted to reclaim my health, which had gone out the window in a number of ways. So I asked myself a simple question. “If health was really my priority, what was the first thing I would do?” And instantly, I knew that the answer was quitting my medication.
I originally wrote this essay months ago. I’ve put off editing and publishing it since. Honestly, I still don’t feel ready, but I’m afraid that if I don’t write it now I might lose it. And I’ve recently been reminded how our Thanksgiving holiday brings issues of guilt and shame to the surface.
So I’m going to give this my best attempt. It’s also much longer than most of my entries. I think it all matters. I think it’s all part of a big, complex system that’s worth examining in its many parts. And I’m sorry I can’t do a better job of finding the most perfect and precise ways to communicate the vital messages. I’m still trying to figure it out myself. But if you give it the fifteen minutes it will take you to read, my hope is you’ll find these ideas to be as significant as I have. So … on to the question.
How do we come to terms with the fact of our bodies? Not facts about our bodies, but the fact of the body itself—that we not only have but are a body, that we exist as creatures of flesh and blood and bone and sense and skin. The body is simultaneously our prison and our vehicle to explore the universe, and each belief we have about that body shapes every moment of our lives.
The body is not an easy fact to accept.
Any idea of “perfect” must ultimately be subjective. Sometimes our collective imagination comes up with an oppressive perfect that we, as individuals, feel obligated to hold ourselves in comparison to. But finding our own ideal, even and especially in contradiction of this societal ideal, has great value.
There’s one specific question of “perfect” that I’ve been thinking about lately: What does my perfect day look like? The more I’ve contemplated what that day might look like, the more I realize how deeply revealing the question is. There were some ways that the contents of my “perfect day” took me by surprise, and some ways in which the idealization made me feel, oddly, grateful.
Like many creative types, I struggle with clinical depression. The trick here is that “clinical depression” often means “depression that we’ve tried to medicate.” Many writers, artists, and “non-creative” people struggle with undiagnosed depression, or at least depression that’s manageable enough that they haven’t yet taken a psychiatric route. In talking extensively on this topic with two of my close friends (both of whom are also writers and both of whom suffer from depression), it became apparent to me that this association is painfully common and that there may well be some practical explanations.
The word should really mean any act of creation, but we tend to mean something else when we talk about creativity. For most common uses of the term, creativity typically means an ability to come up with non-obvious ideas and see new connections. Imagination and creativity are intertwined in our conception; they are both ways of thinking between ideas rather than about them. In fact, a functional definition is that creativity is the ability to think expansively.
As part of a future entry (“The Fact of Our Bodies”), I wrote a fair deal about the difficulty of developing a positive relationship with one’s body in this era of shame and temptation. I’ve pulled several elements out of that essay and put them here. As the poem above indicates, I believe we’re being asked to navigate a modern Scylla and Charybdis. For us, it’s not a whirlpool and a monster: It’s a magazine and a microwave.
Copyright © 2017 Rob Blair Writes