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Thanks and Struggles – Human Bodies = Human Bodies

By William Alexander | June 25, 2014

Sometimes before dinner, when it’s my turn to say what I’m thankful for, I mention the thing that I find most immediately abhorrent. If I really, really think about that thing, I am usually humbled by the awesomeness of the context that creates the discomfort, and I am reminded of how amazing the world is.* In doing so, I redefine a knee injury as a reminder of the myriad mechanisms human bodies have to heal themselves. I am inspired to walk with better posture, smell/taste the flowers as I pass, and that although one of my limbs is acutely uncomfortable, the reality of my health situation is: my life expectancy and overall physical wellbeing is likely better that most humans, anywhere, throughout any part of history.


*Note: This “think about it until you feel happy” game doesn’t apply to some things. The more I think about genocide or prisons, the more I want to throw Molotov cocktails.

I don’t use this to shame myself or anyone else for being bothered by discomfort; I’m just reminding myself that I know I am a joyful person, so I might as well start acting like it.


Despite how much I’ve been walking on my rest-needing leg, one of my main priorities at this point in my life is to be healthier. I call it “getting in shape.” I like that phrase because it’s so hilariously impossible to be out of shape. (Round is a shape, pear-shaped is a shape, you are whatever shape you are.) I’d like to meet something that wasn’t a shape, but I’m afraid of what happens on the penumbra of dimensions.

I also like the phrase “get in shape” because words and concepts take almost tangible form when I try to think of them. Getting my life in shape literally correlates to putting pressure on different aspects of my life until the proportions of time-and-energy-allocations are more to my immediate liking. I don’t mean this figuratively; when I think about my “life,” it looks like a blob of clay, shaped by many things but most yielding to my own touch.

Getting in shape for me partially involves working on changing my body to be closer to my own ideal. It also involves changing the way I think of problems, changing the way I interact with nature, changing how I allocate and record my time, and being more intentional about whom I associate with. I don’t think I’m ready to go into details yet, but I will likely bear my soul for the internet to see as I explore who I am and who I am able to be.

One of my favorite ways to practice this becoming is with prettty regular Thanks and Struggles. Accordingly:

Today I am thankful for the ache in my knee, the happenstance of a special sweetheart being in DC tonight, and that I’m probably done moving out/in from/to my old/new home base. I’m struggling with remembering Thanks #1, more impatience with the process of getting my life in the shape I want it, and the asymmetry between how much I want to create something beautiful and how capable I feel at doing it.

P.S.! Watch this. Even if you’ve seen it before.

Thank Goodness

“My heaven is a snow globe. The blizzard will always be worth the touch of your hand, shaking me awake like a boy taking deep breaths all the way down to the dents in his shins like he’s building a telephone from a string and two tin cans.

He knows God’s number by heart. He knows it isn’t listed in any book.

Look me in the bull’s eye, in the laws I broke and the promises I didn’t, in the batteries I found when the lights went out, And the prayers I found when the brakes did too.

I got this moment and no idea when it will end. But every second of this life is scripture and to know that
trust me, we don’t need to be born again.”

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