In the Name of Science

March 1, 2017 • Eating Disorder, Exercise, Health, Inspiration, Mental Health, National Eating Disorder Awareness Week, NEDA, Recovery, Self Care • Views: 1930

Hey, I just realized why I want to get over my eating disorder. It wasn’t a surge of self-empowerment or a breakthrough therapy session or some poetic grace note, but it hit me like a bolt of horror from the blue:

I’m bored.


Doubt, despair, I can deal with. Noble suffering, self-delusion, elegant inner myths? Navigable, at least. But indifference, resignation, ennui? No fucking way. I refuse.

Most of my life I’ve felt like a lonely alien hovering high above the home planet, taking notes. I marvel at how it all fits–  no one organism more valuable than any other, each strand holding the tensile strength of the whole web. Yet I’ve never seen the niche I’m made to inhabit. My thread feels weak and warped. That dissonance becomes pain, and pain becomes pattern, and it’s soon easier to stay trapped in a cycle than seek new information. I’ve spent over a decade spinning through this stale experiment, and honestly, it’s getting old. So what if I started to believe that the integrity of my one warped thread was important? Or better yet, interesting? What if I simply asked myself, over and over, “What if? What else?”

Biology is both in my corner and at my throat on this one. Rerouting neural pathways demands relentless dedication, and it’s hard. But on the other hand, life on Earth has been conspiring since its very beginning to get on with the business of being alive. Of course it’s hard; that’s the spine of survival. You struggle, you adapt, you make it. Or you don’t and you die. But if I die by this disorder, I know what it will look like. Hospital beds, bright lights and loud beeps? Fuck that noise. Let me go under the stars in Mali or in the woods with my dog; let me be an old woman who keels over in her kitchen waiting for the bread to rise. Surprise me. Boredom, not death, is my ultimate dread.

In her poem The Summer Day, Mary Oliver throws down the elegant gauntlet:

Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?

Tell me, what is it you plan to do

With your one wild and precious life?

One wild and precious life. One chance on this marvel of a planet that makes me want to crack open from sheer fascination at least five times a day. I’ve been paying eloquent lip service to that awareness for a long while, but I still spend more time trying to reckon how long I have to run to earn my dinner than I do learning about dinosaurs. How much more compelling is the hour spent contemplating Ceratopsia versus calories? It’s not even a comparable equation; one gives you joy and wonder, one fear and shame. The math is impartial but the sum you choose says it all. I know which one I’ve been choosing, and it grates against my gratitude for the strange blessing of being.

I want, in this precious life, to take wild leaps into frontiers near and far, knowing one will be final. I want to zoom around the galaxies, getting dizzy with delight. I want to inhabit the cosmic sphere and the biosphere and I don’t think they’re mutually exclusive. The curious alien has such freedom, especially when it lets itself return to the home planet now and then for a good meal, a walk in the woods, and conversation. Being alive is an active state: opening, over and over, your mind and heart. Yes, I’ll still get lonely and lost. But I won’t be caged and I won’t be numb and I won’t be bored. Hell, I might hate it, but in the name of science I want to give it a shot.

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