Tuesday, January 07, 2014


I woke up this morning with the warning tickle in my throat that is the harbinger of a cold. As I don't often get colds, I always face this situation with annoyance and with the determination that I will defeat whatever toxin is invading my system with healthy foods, water, and more tea than a British monarch.

I've also recently been making my way through Haruki Murakami's engaging and intelligent memoir What I Talk About When I Talk About Running, where he draws interesting parallels between running and writing.  One discussion that particularly struck me was his belief that writing novels can be a form of a toxin and running is a way to counteract that. Running--embodying physical health--can actually be away to clear mental and emotional toxins as well.  I often feel that running physically purifies me, cleanses me of toxins and brings me energy, but I never connected it also to a concept of mental and emotional toxin.

However, after a recent bout of drunken revelry, during which I acted in ways that I was less than proud of as I spent the next day on the couch struggling to keep any food or water down, I have begun considering other kinds of toxins--those mental and emotional toxins--that I willingly or unknowingly introduce into my body, my mind, and my relationships.

Now, I don't think alcohol is always a toxin (well, at least in small amounts), but as I strive for a life that is healthful and more vibrant, I see now that "detoxing" might need to be more than cutting out sugar and booze for a few days following holiday indulgences. It might mean also freeing myself of behaviors and attitudes that can become toxins for my emotional and mental health, as well as the health of my closest and most vital relationships.

It was in the midst of the last moments of an increasingly hazy night that I realized that my own actions had become a toxin to both myself and to my connection with others.  It may have been coincidental that I immediately wanted to throw up when that realization penetrated my alcohol-addled brain, but I have to wonder.  Since that point, I've been contemplating and considering the other forms that toxins can take and how I might counteract them.  Sure, eating vegetables and drinking lots of water and exercising functions effectively to remove physical toxins from my body, but how can I strive to remove that which might poison in other ways?

Not that I have answers, but a shift in understanding the ways I can be the best human I am capable of seems to be taking place, as well as understanding that my actions not only introduce a toxin to myself, but can also harm the people I love best.  And like a strong body is able to fight off an invasion or a mild toxin, a strong relationship can surely withstand small doses; yet, I do not want to put myself in the position to see where the breaking point is, where the toxins overwhelm the healthy body and cause it to be destroyed.

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