Self Bully

I think I’m getting sick. My throat has been sore and pasty for the past few days. A couple days ago, one of my coworkers coughed on me; I’m not entirely sure it wasn’t on purpose. I haven’t been sick in over a year. Not a sniffle. Not a cough. No aches or pains. I wonder if it was because I started smoking last year (again) and the sickness got killed off when it tried invading my body. Now that I haven’t smoked in almost three weeks, it could be the flu coming on with a vengeance.

I have not been kind to my body. I’ve put her through quite the ringer. Surgeries, smoking, hard drugs, sedentary life, shit food and enough coffee every morning to tranquilize a horse. This is something that must change. The older I get, the more I come to understand that it is not money or power or fame I want. Rather, it’s time. Time is not on my side. If I continue to live the way I have, I will have even less time.

The way I calculate things, I’ve hit the midpoint of my life. Have I written about this before here on the blog? I am not sure. If I have, you’ll have to excuse me. If I have, maybe it’s my inner conscious screaming out to be heard. Of the forty or so years I have left, I’ve got maybe twenty-five where I’ll be physically able to do things. And only the next decade or so of being adventurous.

If I want to hike the Camino de Santiago, I need to do that soon. Hike the Appalachian Trail or Continental Divide Trail or the Pacific Crest Trail, I need to start planning. I’m sure at sixty years old, I could hike these trails but I don’t want to worry about—or be hindered by—my body. I want to focus on the journey, focus on the mental insight hiking brings people.

The time for being cavalier and crazy is slowly drawing close. It may have already ended. It dawned on me that I should be more deliberate with my life. This is something I haven’t really had experience with. Most of my life, I have lived haphazardly. The only time of intense focus was in my mid-twenties and the past two years. Before and between, I spent vagabonding around the country. I have wanderer tattooed on my right shoulder in Sanskrit (yes, I was one of those kids).

It wasn’t until my early thirties that I started to feel my body shift and change. For the first time, I couldn’t eat whatever I wanted. My ass, which was often the envy of other women and a whistle away from a man, started to droop. I began a slow widening. It was easy to hide at first. Actually, for many years. But now, the slighest junk food or pizza or ice cream lingers for days. I no longer take joy in my body (I mean, we all take that kind of joy, right?). I have come to love winter more than I ever did because I can wear bulky sweatshirts and flannel shirts.

I have a few older friends in their sixties. My parents are in their sixties. And they tell me that it doesn’t get easier. Listening to their tales of knee replacements or ankle surgeries. Listening to them complain (rightfully so) of the year long process of healing. Watching them gingerly walk down a trail. It both upsets me and scares me. So far though, it hasn’t scared me enough to change my shitty habits.

Well, that’s not entirely true. I did quit smoking. It’s been 18 days smoke free. I’ve been here before. Before I started smoking (due to that vociferous asshat of a president), I had been smoke-free for three years. However, before that, I had smoked for eighteen. I’m working with a deck that I stacked against myself.

It’s common to exclaim, No more excuses but I’d like to think I mean it this time. There is a fear inside me that I am not accustomed to. Part of me believes I’ve got cancer already and the annual physical check-up I go to in a month will reveal something in my blood work, which will then lead to more tests and a million thousand regrets.

At least I won’t be surprised by the results. So, I’ll just continue not smoking. I’ll have even more reason to eat healthy, move my body in ways long forgotten, and start taking chances with more adventures.