Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Running After Radar

Only those who have lost their best canine or feline companion can know the profound sadness and emptiness accompanying that.
Rather than being a substitute for humans in our life, pets in fact are an appurtenance, an enhancement. In many ways they epitomize traits humans are barely capable of. We as people build walls and boundaries. We have ulterior motives. We have a hard time letting go of the past. We put ourselves first. We’re insecure about expressing love, reticent about showing affection.
Pets are cursed with none of these failings.
Having had dogs throughout my life, each of whom excelled in his/her own unique way, I can truly say that 5-year old Radar stood head and shoulders above the rest. Perfectly behaved by some fortuity of nature, never a-wandering, ever watchful over me, enthusiastically and unswervingly kind toward humans and other canines, yet protective of his home and people, joyful in the face of his adversity, his months of decline due to osteosarcoma and his ultimate loss were heart crushing.
The house is now empty, yet every morning like clockwork I still awaken at first light to take him for his walk. The first few days I felt adrift, but recognizing I needed a diversion, a new routine, I began running at this hour.
I live in a rural area and loved the morning walks taken with Radar — the quiet, the lack of cars and people, the cool breeze sliding down from the mountain tops. I could mentally organize my day while attending to his needs. I missed that. And so on day four of my grieving, as I got out of bed, the horizon just beginning to lighten up a golden pink, I, instead of shuffling morosely in the general direction of the coffee maker and the computer, put on my running shoes.
I’ve always hated running, but it has newly provided a way to work out my feelings through physical exertion, and allows me to celebrate my canine kid by tromping along the same route we followed during his way-too-short lifetime.
As much as I traditionally have shunned running, at this meaningful hour of the day it’s the right thing to do. It lightens, just a little bit, the burden of Radar’s loss, not just while I’m running, but throughout the day.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Mental Illness and Eating Disorders

People utilizing food to express their dysfunctional mental state is not a modern phenomenon, but with the expansiveness of media in modern times has come a more acute awareness of this issue. A friend of mine has long argued that even non-disturbing eating regimens such as veganism are the outward expression of inner turmoil and unresolved damage expressed through one’s control of food. Those in denial of the problems that have overtaken them who engage in self-destructive behaviors like bulimia, anorexia, binge eating and drinking, who explain away their aberrant practices as if they were some minor quirk, are creepy enough, but their supporters and defenders are just as emotionally unfit. After all, we are who we defend.
Going to the gym or practicing daily some physical activity like running, swimming, parcours, etc. allows for the shedding of — or at least a reprieve from — whatever mental or emotional problems we are carrying around. But choosing the opposite tact, turning the rage inward and damaging one’s self through an eating disorder, to use just one example, broadcasts to the entire world how fucked up we truly are.
Most of our damage has been accumulated in very early childhood, when we were voiceless and at the mercy of the adults around us — parents, neighbors, clergy, caregivers, teachers — and either could not or were not allowed to express our suffering. Those who grow up having an aversion to therapists must create some other way to articulate and disburden themselves from the pent-up rage they feel. The healthier way is through physical activity. The corrupting way, the dark way which turns the rage inward upon one’s self, can be a disturbingly public manifestation such as an eating disorder.
An eating disorder is a mortifying symptom under which lies other more sinister behaviors, such as living a hateful life and expressing ongoing tirades of rage towards others, as do many so-called media “pundits” who puke out their inner misery on any and all who irritate them in any way. These sick and malignant individuals are provided a voice by a corrupt and irresponsible media, with like-minded damaged people signing on as their “fans”, forming a club of sorts wherein, instead of collectively striving for a happier, healthier life, they pursue the exact opposite.
Physical exercise doesn’t cure mental illness, but it does provide a healthy constructive outlet for one’s personal suffering. Those who seek out the spotlight to broadcast their inner turmoil, who in fact celebrate and promote their destructive ways need to be recognized as the malignant individuals they are.
Shut off the TV and the computer and go for a run.