Dancing with Disease

the desire to get rid of disease is also a disease

Happy weekend!

Before I get started with dancing, I want to thank everyone who responded to my last email about my masked adventures on Zoom rooms. Some even sent screenshots of me caught LIVE in the act :)

Honestly, I didn't expect this response. After Cam Houser shared it on a Twitter group, my fellow 'Write of Passage'rs had a laugh about it. Nate couldn't believe I was serious about it, while Taylor was thrilled to see the spirit of 'play' at work. You see what I did there? Jesse was so excited to share his own creative explorations over the weekend. I was so happy to see the excitement that play brings out in everyone it touches, even momentarily.

Share your moments of mirth

This is an excellent reminder that we can all unite and connect through play. Even when you think you're not capable of playing anymore, it just takes a single moment to launch you into hysterical laughter. And nothing is more playful than actually rolling on the floor laughing. Despite the challenging times, there are tons of people out there who can relate to the fun of playing. But you'll only know if you share that joy.

Make your laughter echo. It may make your day, like it did mine.

Okay, now let's get back to dancing, with disease no less.

By the way, I realize this can be hard to digest especially with disease ravaging the world. I'm not prefecting this idea into an article just yet and am sending it out in this newsletter to get you reflecting like I did. Even 'shitty articles' can result in profound realisations, regardless of craft and style.

Here’s something to remember: perfection is like the horizon, you never ever get there, but it's always something to walk towards.

Ok, ok, I can be such a tease right? No more, let's get dancing with disease.
Here's a question....

"What if I didn't want to be rid of disease?"
(That's shocking, I know.)

You’re wondering where I'm going with this. Disease by the very definition of the word means not at ease. And why would you not want to be rid of something that makes you uneasy?

I've attempted to distill my personal monologue down and when I finally came up with this email sized version, I got up from my chair and danced with joy.

It's a bloody Eureka moment!

What is dancing with disease?

Yes, we need a definition, but I'm not quite there yet. This isn't a definitive treatise on the treatment of diseases that will revolutionise medicine. I'm not expecting billions of dollars in research grants by the Zuckerbergs or Brins of this world. But this understanding has revolutionised my acceptance of disease....

The desire to be rid of disease is also a disease.

In other words, the amount of effort I put in fighting to be rid of my disease causes more unease than the disease itself. What if I put that effort into understanding, accepting and even embracing my disease?

Would it cease to be a disease? (Lightbulb moment)

Okay, if you're anything like me, you're probably pissed. If discomfort and pain could be wished away with idea jugglery, I wouldn't be swearing silly everytime pain hits a new threshold.

Disease is not your enemy — disease is your friend.

This is contrary to anything you will hear.
"Fight your disease!"
"Discover a way to destroy it!"
Sure, there is truth in those lines. After all, you don't want to suffer pain, misery and suffering forever.

But what I'm offering is a different perspective. The problem is the same, but the viewpoint changes everything. The disease has something to offer. There is a lesson to be learnt here. Or are you looking to get rid of your disease as soon as you can?

Disease is the Enemy

I recently tore the ligaments in my knee (all of them and strained the quadricep tendon). From being a physically fit and super active individual, I was suddenly handicapped. Surely this was something to resolve, to repair and to get rid of (the situation, not my knee).

But the immobility induced by such a plight makes an athlete inconsolable.
I wanted to reject this reality.

Accept, not reject

I wanted to flip the perspective here. I looked at the situation like it were a gift rather than a curse. I accepted my immobility. Every morning instead of getting out and breaking a sweat, I sat down and wrote.

How I felt. What I was losing out on. Why I thought this was terrible for me.
As I purged through the entirety of my angst, I felt a fresh wave of emotion and experience.

I realised the joy of stillness, the quiet of the morning, the birds greeting me as if cheering me on. It was as if the universe was rejoicing in my realisation of a world outside of my self.

Embrace, not overcome

Every day when I hobbled on crutches to get from my bed to the toilet, I had the option to shower in self-pity. The metal brace wrapped around my knee felt alien and unnatural. More so than the injured knee it was designed to hide.

I began to see the injury as an experience to embrace and not overcome. I decided to use the downtime to my advantage. I could do things with my time that I did not do before.

Because I was now stuck in one place, I was bound by physical constraints but my mind could race and my imagination could soar.

Play, not process

All of this does not detract from the healing process. I still needed to get better. There was a process I needed to follow.

I needed to follow a rehab regime that was exacting and exhaustive.
Step by step. Round after round.
The repetitive monotony.
The humiliating simplicity of movements.
The despair of failed attempts.

In the midst of it all, I decided to play. I invented games. Imagined the exercises to be the Labours of Hercules. I spun magical tales of villainous beasts to slay and gorgeous maidens to win. I sprinkled sparkles on my cane after a suggestion by Lauren Valdez. I imagined I was playing Temple Run on crutches as I hobbled down the garden path.

I rejoiced in the constraints of my injury. I was in a state of play, not pain.

Disease is my Friend

Based on my experience, you have the opportunity to make a radical shift in perspective. I just offered you a way that will serve you better in enduring disease. Enduring, did I say? Scratch that.

I have been enjoying my disease. I have been dancing with my disease. My disease is my friend.

I realised true friends, who visit regularly. I made new friends online, since I can't go out. I started writing and sketching, since I can't explore the physical arts. I became mindful of the limitations of my body (invaluable knowledge for my later years).

This evolution of thought is a playful way of keeping company with disease. Some diseases are short-stay guests like my injury. Others like my arthritic fingers are probably here to stay. On that note, the various mental health issues we face more so during Covid also qualify as disease. This isn’t a magical cure or an alternative to treatment, but my playful perspective is effortless, and will empower you to look at yourself and smile because there's fun to be had and lessons to be learned, as you dance with your disease.

Have a great weekend. Enjoy a long walk for me.

Oh! I almost forgot. This letter marks the shift into a daily newsletter from a weekly one. If you wanna unsubscribe, do let me know. I would love to send you one last goodbye letter - we had some fun times. Those who wanna stay, let me know what you wanna hear about next. We’re gonna have plenty more fun times. 🤹🏻‍♂️