The boulder doesn’t care if it makes it to the top of the hill, and its peals of stony laughter are heard in the form of heat, energy and sound as it tumbles down, taunting us with our failed attempts.
Sigmund Freud, the famed social scientist of the early 20th century, was famously quoted as saying, “Love and Work…Work and Love…what else is there really?” But the social scientist, contrasting Sir Isaac Newton the physical scientist, utilizes the word “work” in a far different connotation. In this respect, work evokes a strong sense of the commitment to the task of living, growing and changing. It relates not to the Joules of energy needed to lift a boulder against gravity in a frictionless, weightless environment, but to the desire and gumption that allow us to return again and again to a task which has tumbled a boulder back in to our paths. This work is of an intangible nature, one that cannot be measured, quantified or stored. This work is powerful, and critical to the student of wellness, longevity and health.
I freely admit that I love the taste of a glazed doughnut. I like the texture and the smell. I rarely if ever allow myself to dive into a glazed doughnut because I know that it is not good for my health. This takes work, desire and focus. But this type of work is relatively easy. I simply continue walking past the bakery shop, and once the smell has faded, so too has the desire.
But in the lifelong practice of health, the amount of work required begins to increase. My daily work demands focus, energy and a resolute desire to attend to the factors that sustain my health. I exercise virtually daily. Yes, there are always a thousand other things to do, and I could easily distract myself with the complexities of life, but I show up to do the work, put on my running or climbing shoes, and do my training. Perhaps the most time consuming part of the day, and the one which takes the most focus and work, is the effort surrounding the preparation of food. Rather than “grabbing a bite” at the local joint, I prepare meals. This similarly requires work, with frequent trips to the store to maintain a supply of fresh fruits and vegetables, proteins and grains in my pantry and refrigerator. Preparing the meals takes time and planning, but I can’t imagine applying my work efforts to many things of greater importance than feeding my family with nutritious foods.
For those who are undertaking a functional course of treatment, it may be that the amount of work that you have to maintain at the onset is even greater than what I describe in my daily routine. You may find yourself having to commit to even more work, making up for years of inattention, for accumulations of fat or toxins. You will likely have to work on the eradication of bad habits. You may find yourself spending more of your time and money on your health than you could have ever imagined, and I would not be surprised to learn that some feel a bit of resentment, anger or doubt. This is all part of the process, part of the journey, and part of the work that is required to regain your health.
The beauty of it all is that you don’t have to do it alone. We are all part of a health revolution, and there is a swelling of support found in our families, our work environment, our friends and our doctors. You may have to turn over a few stones until you find the doctor who can function more as an “wellness associate” and less like a technician, but this may be a part of your work. I recommend looking for a Naturopath or Functional Medicine physician. These are the providers who generally have the knowledge, interest and time to help effect these changes.
To paraphrase Freud, humans need love and work. A journey to a newfound state of health fulfills both of these requirements. Get with the program, and do the work. These struggles are our work. We will need to work against the challenges and setbacks; we need to fight against the crafty engineering of processed food that drives or brain chemicals for excitement and reward; we need to break from the tight grasp of media, television and mindless video games that keeps us glued to the couch, desk or screen; and on occasion we may need to lower our shoulders against the boulders in our path. It is in this manner, it is through this Work, that we can, in the words of Freud, find true Love.
This true love is the love of oneself, one’s body, one’s world and one’s life.
Dr. Scott Resnick
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