How many of us are really alive?
One day, I realised I was dead.
Sort of. I just had this feeling that I was just dragging around a corpse.I played a lot of sport when I was younger so I know what it feels like to feel alive. I know what it feels like to have energy in your body. Like putting yourself to bed at night when you’re still feeling pumped and you’re still feeling like you could run another mile. Like waking up still feeling warm and from last night’s session, ready and raring to go
I know it feels like when your body feels alive. I owe soccer a lot.
But one day I realised that my body didn’t feel alive. It felt dead. I hadn’t noticed but when I tuned into it, it was a horrible feeling. My body felt cold and alien. It was almost like rigour-mortis had started to set in. I wasn’t moving well and when I listened to my body, the only impulse I could hear was the impulse to lie down and be still.
A silk-lined and padded coffin actually seemed like an attractive place to have a rest.
It was in between soccer seasons and I was putting in a lot of hours at the office, on the computer doing long stretches, sometimes like eight hours without break. I was eating at my desk and not seeing a lot of sun.
I wasn’t sleeping well either. I was getting a lot of screen time just before bed and this was all before we learnt about how blue screens mess with our sleep patterns.
I definitely wasn’t treating my body like temple. I wasn’t even treating it like an amusement park.
I was just treating it like some kind of industrial commercial precinct. My mind was on a mission. I had things to do. My body’s only job was to move my mind between the various devices I was using to get stuff done.
But you can only do this so long.
And soon enough, my body started dying. It started slowing down. It started to grow cold and stiff.
At first, I didn’t really notice. I had replaced my morning run with a coffee, and when my tolerance was low that was able to give me a kickstart in the morning. But eventually, you build a tolerance for coffee.
I was also spending a lot of time on the phone engaging my social mind and the project itself was very exciting. This kept me going.But as the project started to wind down, I realised that my body had grown lazy. It didn’t want to do anything any more. Where there used to be an impulse to run and to move and to kick balls around a field, there was now nothing. If there was an impulse at all it was an impulse to avoid as much physical activity as possible.
Maybe today I’ll take the escalator.
To be honest it was kind of horrifying. I suddenly felt old. I was embarrassed by the sluggishness that had taken me over. And the feeling that I was dragging around a corpse from one place to another was actually repulsive. Like truly disgusting.
I know this will come as a surprise to many people, especially those who have seen my Adonis-like body in action in recent times. And it was a pretty short phase in my life. I was able to turn things around pretty quickly. But I think that makes me one of the lucky ones.
I think because I have played so much sport in my life I knew that having a body wasn’t meant to feel this way. I could see that something was wrong. But how many bodies do we lose to the grind of office life, family life and escalator culture?
How many people become an undertaker to their own body and never realise that there could be an alternative?
I saw an older couple the other day and they seriously looked like beach balls on sticks. He looked like he was having a few too many beers, and she looked like she was having a few too many pies.
They were breaking a sweat getting into the elevator.
Now I’m not here to judge them. I’ve got no idea what their parents taught them about nutrition. And I’m self-aware enough to know that a good chunk of my drive for fitness comes from vanity.
But I did wonder what experience they were having of their own bodies. Were their bodies a burden? Was it a hassle to shuffle them about the place and stuff them into plus-size tracksuit pants?
Or were their bodies an independent source of energy? Were their bodies so hungry for movement and activity that their minds had to come up with things to keep them busy?
I’m not saying that we should try to maintain the pure-burn energy of children throughout our lives. That’s not realistic. But we don’t have to die an early death either.
Because really, if we’re honest, it’s not that hard.
Imagine you owned a horse. Imagine you left that horse tied up in a field. Imagine you never took it out for run –you never let it move the way that it yearns to move. How long till that horse is nothing more than a paperweight?
Move and move often. Eat well and eat light. Go easy on the sugar, caffeine and alcohol.
Animating a corpse is really as simple as this.
(I know I’m not telling you anything new here.)The trick of course, is motivation and discipline. I’ve written a lot about that and I’ll write more about that again later.
But for now, if this is a story for you, if you want to be motivated, try tuning in to your corpse. Feel your muscles growing cold and stiff, your flesh starting to putrefy. Feel how horrible this is.
Perhaps this is just the scare you need.
It was for me.
Ever had to bring your corpse back from the dead?