If my body is a temple, it’s crumbling

·3-min read
Malay Mail
Malay Mail

MAY 25 — Sometimes middle-age sneaks up on you. Before you know it your pants don’t fit and the plumber’s assistants all call you madam.

With age, too, women are told that they turn invisible as though they can only be seen through the lens of desirability.

Having experienced a strange man trying to take me out to breakfast at my house gate during the first MCO, I actually found it a relief.

Finally, weird men will stop making odd requests like taking pictures of my boots.

Perhaps my landlord will finally stop saying I should take him out for drinks! Alas, I guess some men haven’t gotten the memo as just last week, I had to deal with an overly friendly MRT staffer who wanted to know where I was going, if I was going alone and if I was Chinese.

There’s this notion women like this kind of attention but if I wanted to be picked up or meet someone I would choose a better venue than the MRT ticketing machines.

Being middle-aged also comes with the spectre of people you know dying.

I lost two friends in the span of less than a year, one to advanced kidney disease and another to a sudden heart attack.

For weeks I was listless, hardly leaving the bed, and crying every day.

As Will Storr wrote in the introduction of his book, The Science of Storytelling: “Humans might be in unique possession of the knowledge that our existence is essentially meaningless, but we carry on as if in ignorance of it.” When faced with the reality that we live with so much out of our hands, it’s hard not to start fraying at the edges.

Our minds are working harder than we realise to keep sane despite the realities of living in the setting of a dystopian horror film.

I get reminded every day how my body is just as fragile as my mind.

It took weeks to get over the side effects of my last Pfizer booster, and after a fall last year I still can’t quite reach around with my right arm to zip up my dress.

Michelle Yeoh in a New York Times interview said she would greet her body with “I’m sorry. Thank you, I love you,” for all the things she put it through.

If I were to apologise to my body it would be for all the times that I skipped dinner to eat potato chips instead.

While I still pretend not to hear the Apple Watch on my wrist imploring me to stand, move or exercise, I am trying now to care for my body the way I know some people care for their cars.

To ensure my carpal tunnel doesn’t get worse, I quit knitting, crochet and found other hobbies that do not require the use of my hands.

Now I make time in the morning for stretching exercises and light yoga and instead of calling for a Grab car, I try to take the free bus to Starling Mall.

I will never be as thin or as pretty as I was two decades ago and while accepting that has also been hard, it’s what I need to do.

Instead I am grateful that despite my yo-yo attempts at fitness, my body is more working than broken and instead of fighting with it, I have learned that I must work with, not against my body.

Until the day we can swap out our body parts and organs like we do our organs, the best thing to do really is to be friends with your body because at the end of all things, you will both leave this plane together.

Doesn’t your final companion deserve your love and care?

* This is the personal opinion of the columnist.