As I lay in bed this morning reflecting on all the beautiful seedlings that I had moved from the nursery to the veg garden the day before, I was also feeling the dagger jabs every time I moved. The medical name for the condition is Ankylosing Spondylitis and its described as an autoimmune disorder. I was listening to this pain when I heard a message.
The message was not to fight this pain by shooting the messenger; The message was not to hide the contortions of my body and lack of mobility because of stigma; The message was not to solve it through making better consumer choices that day. The message was not to police it through disciplining it with strict orders of the day. The message was not to cleanse myself through purging the litany of tangible and intangible pollutants that cultivate autoimmune disorders. The message was not to simply blame it all on the system in an abstracted fashion in the form of a failed system of global public health and a stuck ideology of feudal capitalism. All these things have roles depending on the context and moment and I do hear them.
This message was asking me something extra. It was asking me to acknowledge the deep capacity of life and the human being. Gazillions of playful interactions deposited in this moment that form me and the world I inhabit. The pain I was feeling was flesh and blood at play. Playing with ways to acculturate and adapt. All adaption is not simply efficient or dysfunctional fights and solutions. It’s far more phenomenological than that. Like someone who has weaved a rattan chair, cultivated a forest garden, crafted a community feasting space on common land or hunted the great sea bass – all things I have been up to of late – you learn to appreciate the iterative side of life rather than let the prescriptive maintain its hegemony.
The prescriptive in this case being the medical prescriptions that my legal drug dealer regularly delivers to my door in the form of immune blocking substances to fight the disease. The set of procedures I have developed to hide the difficulty I find in navigating the prescriptive architecture and design prescribed by CAD software and rolled out across the feudal-urban terrain. The cabinet of supplements, catalogue of therapies and phonebook of practitioners that I combine in custom constellations to consume and manage the pain. The part-time job of doing all my stretches, not eating most things, and maintaining a ban on consumption of the common poisons. The elaborate methods of cleansing my chemistry and lifestyle of toxic habits. The brand of intellectual alienation that leaves you knowing information, by not learning anything about being. Again, all these things have roles depending on the context and moment.
This message was asking me something else. It was message of the body prophet. The billions of me holding the message of chronic pain. A message that is seen as a problem to solve, a foe to fight or worse a thing to be kept out of sight. It is our demon to hold, but it is not the problem. Mitigation is welcome.
My pain, our pain, is not the problem.
Life always plays.
Listen to the body prophet.
Play is not the problem.
Without seeking a way of life that can unstick us in our everyday fighting, hiding or solving, that child playing may one day leave off, into the dark night, with only us, dagger in hand, stabbing.