Today, my body has continued to complain as it’s been complaining all week. Anyone with one or more chronic illnesses will know what I mean. There are times when my body quiets, hums along contentedly, and I feel good. Then there are other times when my body grouses and groans, wants my attention, or just gives me pain. During her discontented times, I seek ways to relieve her distress. Sometimes I succeed, sometimes not. As I write this, I’m soaking both feet up to and a little above the ankles in a tub of icy water.
The demands of life, e.g. work, often interfere with whatever other plans I may have, and make it difficult for me to take care of my body more often than not. This past week, I worked a moderate amount at my part-time job, but two of the days were full days. I had no time to deal with my swollen ankles and feet from psoriatic arthritis until I returned home in the evenings. One morning, I managed to ice my left ankle for about ten minutes before I had to leave. This week also a new pain has introduced itself, i.e. pain in my Achilles tendon making it hard to walk at times or to wear shoes.
When my body complains and makes me uncomfortable or gives me pain, I find it very hard to be creative. I’m amazed by anyone who can compartmentalize the physical in order to create artistically. This fall, I finally broke down and bought, used, Thayer’s Life of Beethoven, considered to be the definitive biography of
Ludwig van Beethoven. In an appendix of the second part I discovered the report of the autopsy done on Beethoven after he died — I hadn’t known that one existed. It was shocking to read. He must have been in incredible pain at times as well as near constant discomfort. And yet he continued to compose, including his Ninth Symphony.
The only explanation I could think of for Beethoven’s incredible discipline was that he could achieve an altered state of consciousness when he worked and it somehow helped to alleviate his pain and discomfort. Or maybe he resorted to alcohol to blunt the pain — his liver was in terrible shape when he died. I have lost myself in his music at times, and classical music of all kinds helps to relax me, lower my blood pressure, slow my pulse. An example of mind over body: music’s sound enters through the ears, is processed by the brain, and the sound calms emotions. Muscles then relax, respiration slows. Sometimes physical pain eases, sometimes not.
I believe in the mind-body connection. Our minds are far more powerful than we realize, and most people have no interest in knowing. I don’t want to merely tell my body to stop hurting. I want my body to stop attacking itself, the process that is causing the pain. I know I need to return to my Falun gong practice to connect with the forces of energy within and without. They can be beneficial for my physical well-being.
Today, I plan to dig out my files for Perceval’s Shadow, the second novel in the Perceval series. I wonder if I immersed myself in revising the first draft that the physical pain would go away. Or maybe the short story I’ve been writing in my head for the past month. I don’t know. I’m also wondering if being scattered in my life hurts my body — my part-time job schedule is not predictable so I cannot establish a reliable structure to my work days that includes both writing and the part-time job. I want to be like Beethoven — mind over body — but I fear that my mind may be too weak….