Ahmad Abdul Haq

Respecting the Body

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Sumber: Kick Andy.com


Sabtu, 06 Desember 2008 22:04 WIBRespecting the Body

Respecting the Body This has been another eventful week for me, although being in the media I cannot really remember the last time there really was nothing very much going on. As a matter of fact, as I've often pointed out, things are moving so fast these days that there often is very little time to absorb what's going on let alone trying to figure out the meaning.

The one thing that is happening with increasing frequency is the number of people either getting sick or dying around me. Of course, this just goes to show that I am getting on in years or people are disappearing faster from the planet at a younger age than normal.

A cousin passed away barely last week. He was less than ten years older than me and we used to be close when we were young. I hadn't seen him for decades so in my mind's eye he was still the cocky young man who used to get into fights and take drugs because it was the cool thing to do. I remember being very fond of him because he was like an older brother I never had.

He stayed with us during my family's early years in London. He went to some college by the seaside to study English and succeeded in getting himself a string of girlfriends (all foreign students) and not much success in improving his English language! My mother dispatched him back home having decided his sojourn was a waste of his time and his parents money and I never managed to see much of him since then.

I went to his funeral. There he was, all laid out on the floor covered by a thin piece of sarong. I took a peek at his face and did not see the young man I knew. Instead, it was the face of someone I failed to recognize at all - thin and gaunt, not to mention very much lifeless. It could have been anybody's.

According to his sister he suffered a stroke that got worse in the last four months before he finally gave up. It affected his neck and head and prevented him from being able to eat properly. He lost a lot of weight, she said, and also his will to live. His first light stroke was almost ten years before that.

But what did he eat? I asked. She said at one point he ate three helpings of 'Gulai otak' (cow's brains goulash) a big favourite of the Minang people famous for their high cholesterol diet. Besides, the sister added, he seemed to have a lot of things on his mind.

I looked around me. Most of these relatives I had not seen since I was much younger. There were my other cousins, all with their spouses and grown children, much older and a little worse for wear and to be honest, I bare recognized.

There was my aunt (who used to be so imperious and full of condescension if my memory serves me well) now a frail old lady who rambles away seemingly unaffected by the death of her second son, though still with a fiery spark in her eyes and sharpness in her tongue. I have the feeling she will survive all her children for there is still much zest and energy inside her.

And I think, growing older is indeed inevitable, but how we grow older is very much a choice. I may not be able to control the passing of time and the changing of the seasons but I certainly can control what food passes my mouth, how often I move my body and the quality of thoughts I feed my mind with.

Often we treat ourselves much harsher than we do other people - punishing our bodies with regrets, inflicting pain with remorse and torturing our mind with self-criticisms. At the same time we ignore our body when it aches, when it feels pain and when it cries out for our attention.

I may not be able to cure my illnesses but I can learn to listen when my body speaks and thus prevent the sickness before it eats into my cells. I may not be able to control how others treat me or what befall me, but I can control how I respond to their action and adjust my attitude.

But this can only be done if we have proper respect for our bodies, well before anything else. Without this respect we die not because of fate or accident, but due to the body giving up on us because of our neglect towards it. And when our body gives up on us, then all our dreams, our efforts, our pursuit of happiness will be in vain.

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