Meant To Be Used

Our brains and bodies default to conserving energy.

This energetic setting made a lot of sense in primordial history, as the creatures that could accumulate and save more energy tended to outperform (and thus, out-survive and out-procreate) their competition.

It became even more vital as we started to develop energetically expensive organs like brains, which (in humans) gobble-up something like 20% of our total metabolic budget, despite only accounting for an average of around 2-3% of our total body weight.

From the perspective of “I want to make sure I have sufficient internal resources to outrun a lion, fight a bear, or outthink a fellow (maybe dangerous) human being,” it makes perfect sense that our biological apparatuses might want us to (energetically) save save save, even when we might benefit from doing the opposite.

This stance can at times nudge us toward under-expenditure, though, which is not ideal for our accumulatory habits, nor our biases toward aspects of life that require we spend said energy (challenging things, difficult things, momentarily painful things, etc).

There are things that benefit from being protected from the tribulations and scarring frictions of life.

The microchips in all our gizmos, for instance, are incredibly sensitive and susceptible to even a single speck of dust; the process for creating them is wild and elaborate to account for this—they must be protected and preserved and coddled, or they don’t turn out right.

Most things, though—to some degree at least—benefit from exposure to the necessary contortions of unsheltered existence.

Perfect, pristine leather journals are beautiful objects that arguably get better with time: every crease and bend and scar and imperfection, the jotted notes and doodles in the margins, all contribute to a patina that makes the artifact unique, and even more of a pleasure to hold, use, and appreciate.

Our bodies and minds, likewise, benefit from exposure to the world—to uncloistered reality.

Flexing, contorting, applying pressure, exposure to extremes; our tissues and sinews and neurological pathways expand and contract and achieve greater strength and durability as we use them.

This doesn’t mean being careless with our things, of course. Proper maintenance ensures that our leather journals are still useable and appreciatable for long into the future, and our bodies and minds are the same.

But conservation and care doesn’t mean locking these objects away so that they never engage with or benefit from exposure to the larger world.

I’ve never like the phrase “your body is a temple” in reference to treating ourselves well because it implies a sense of purity and pristine-ness that isn’t realistic or (I would argue) desirable.

I prefer to think of myself—my physical and psychological manifestations—as homes, as vehicles, as objects that benefit from wear-and-tear, from upkeep and upgrades, from valuable frictions and a wabi-sabi sort of aesthetic appreciation.

A temple is visited and experienced ritualistically, but our bodies and minds are meant to be used bravely and brazenly, the remnants of stains and stitched-up tears and other us-shaped flaws incorporated into the structure, highlighted in gold and celebrated, not shamefacedly concealed or replaced.

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