Sunday, August 17, 2014

Love Life

One of my favorite things to do is walk the Loop at Wrightsville Beach. There is usually a wonderful breeze that takes away some of the oppression of the summer's heat.
Walking alone allows me the opportunity to spend uninterrupted time thinking and sorting through the thoughts that fill my mind. I walk with no music in my ears--just me, lost in thought.

As I walked recently I realized the busyness of the week had made me unaware of the sadness that I keep hidden inside me. With each step I took that sadness seeped back into my thoughts. Soon it was pushing my other thoughts out of the way, and I found myself wanting to run so fast I would leave my diseased body behind. Perhaps some weird unexplainable event would allow me to run right into a new me.

Not too many weeks ago I remember feeling uncomfortable, almost angry at the phrase "love your body".  Today, I thought, "Honestly, why would I even consider loving my body? Especially now. It is literally trying to kill me."
As each foot moved me along I entertained the idea of leaving my body for another. I looked around at the people walking the same concrete path that I was. "What about that one?" I thought. "No. Maybe that one . . . ?" I wondered, if given the opportunity to take another body, would I?

As I traveled the 2 1/2 miles of path, I continued to think about the "love yourself, love your body" idea. It seems all of us are constantly reminded to love who you are. Embrace the nuances that make you YOU. I considered why our society finds this so important? So many people seem to have such fragile self-esteems. Perhaps that is how this all began. Or, is it used to promote healthy living hoping people will treat their body with kindness? Maybe it is some kind of good-will gesture to make us feel better when we do not meet some societal standard of beauty? Is it an excuse for those that cannot find the will-power to change something they don't like about themselves? Could "love yourself, love your body" really just be a societal mantra created for consumerism? I stopped when I thought of that one. Is this the reason behind this movement--consumerism?

There is nothing like material-goods to either make us feel like we love ourselves, or it is a validation for ourselves that we do. Advertisers have figured out that they can sell us just about anything from the food we eat to the bikinis some people shouldn't wear, to cosmetics, gym memberships, salon services, even vacations and of course the cars we drive all because of our obsession with our self. This obsession was created or at least nurtured for consumerism.

We are told not only must we love ourselves, but we must love ourselves FIRST before we can love others or before good things can start happening to us. I never understood the logic behind this way of thinking. It seems backwards to me. Loving yourself should be the end result of a very long process. A process that involves surrounding ourselves with people (friends, family, work relationships) who make us feel loved and appreciated. Those relationships are the key to how we feel about ourselves.

I have spent years becoming comfortable in my own skin. Comfortable does not mean I like everything about myself, because I don't. And it doesn't necessarily equate to self-love. Comfortable implies acceptance of self. This only comes after many years of living with . . . well, me. As life happens and people and experiences come and go, acceptance of self becomes part of the process of living.

The "love yourself, love your body" goal promotes material wealth, self-absorption and satisfies our need to get things quickly. Businesses just can't wait for people to become comfortable with themselves. They need you to love yourself today so they can sell their product to you -- today.

Then I thought . . .

Loving yourself is not the same thing as loving living. That is really what is important.

Instead of “love yourself, love your body” our society’s biggest promotion should be about respecting life. The feeding of the “love yourself, love your body” narcissistic agenda causes too many people to become greedy and willing to hurt or take a human life in order to get what they want. Our society’s values are misguided.

I think people would be happier if society moved away from the expectation that we must love ourselves. If we could focus on the importance of life itself instead of how important each of us ought to feel about ourselves, the world would be a better place. With that, I think we all would have a better appreciation for ourselves and other people in general.

I walked the Loop two more times this week. I emerged at the end of all those miles calmer and less sad. I will never be able to keep hidden at all times the sadness I have for what is happening to me no matter how busy I get. It will always be there waiting to find its way back into my thoughts. I will manage to put it back in its place.

The “love yourself, love your body” movement is of no use to me. I have decided, though, my body is like my home-- warm, comfortable, familiar. It took a long time to get to this point. I don't think I would want to go through that arduous process of learning to accept a new one. Besides, I love the life I have had in this body. I cherish my memories, and the people I have met along the way. It wouldn't be my life if I took another body. So, I think I'll keep it.

Then again, would there be a test drive option?

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