My friend Ellen has an interesting post up on the limits of sheer effort and the beauty and value of the sort of effort and perseverance that don’t make for viral videos like the Arthur Boorman one that’s making the rounds:
I really like what Ellen has to say on this, because I think that very often we (Americans especially? I’m not sure) laud outlier stories like Arthur’s–the person who lost 100 pounds in 6 months and became drastically healthier after a regimen of yoga, the person who was able to throw away their dozens of meds after going vegan, the person who goes from welfare mom to world-famous writer, or from living in a car to hit musician, and so on. Rapid and dramatic changes make good stories and good news precisely because they are exceptional.
It’s attractive to think we could change our lives if we apply enough effort plus purchase whatever plan/supplements/program is being sold to us. But it’s also not terribly realistic, and, anyway, misses the beauty of small and consistent, efforts: a page written, a walk taken, a flower planted, a small gain in health or strength or optimism made.
But I also know that no amount of yoga or swimming or weight training or walking will allow me to learn to run, or even to walk without some amount of pain. And I am all too familiar with our cultural tendency to insist that optimal health is only a yoga practice or nutritional supplement or strict diet away, and thus to ignore the reality that some people’s bodies are impaired in ways that cannot be fixed. Anyone living with some type of chronic condition has had the experience of well-meaning friends (or even strangers) offering advice that so completely denies the reality of our condition it is laughable. For those of us who have OI (my bone disorder), this advice often takes the form of, “Have you tried taking calcium supplements or drinking more milk?” The food-as-medicine fix is a popular one these days, as this or that superfood or supplement or something-free diet is touted as having miraculous curative qualities for whatever ails you.
I used to think that if I dieted enough, subsisted on dry toast and fat-free cottage cheese, I’d somehow transform into Audrey Hepburn. Now I realize that only the Willy Wonka stretching machine (in the book, not, I think, in the movies) can do that.
What ‘miracle’ transformations/cures have had a draw on you?