I often view bodies like cars. They are vehicles that allow our non-physical bits to participate in this thing called life on earth. They carry us around and let us do things with one another, and instead of pumping gasoline as a means to fuel the body, we instead nourish ourselves with food, sleep and other such things.
And if bodies are like cars, I’ve got a bit of a lemon.
I’ve got the kind of body that mimicks the car you probably had in college. The kind that you have to do a special wiggle dance with the key in order to get the door to unlock. The kind of car whose gas gauge isn’t reliable. The kind of car that makes weird noises when you accelerate and threatens to stop working when you come to a complete stop at a light.
That’s the kind of body I have. And I’m sure that there are many others out there who have similar (or worse) bodies to mine.
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the nature of having a fixer-upper body. The nature of having spoon based illnesses where you are constantly working to keep things together. Or hell, even the nature of just living in such a situation where nothing is ever stable. How do we cope with that? What is even the point if everything you build up is only to maintain some semblance of ‘breaking even’? Why bother if you’re never going to get ahead?
I remember breaking down one evening at Osiris’ place and crying the ugliest cry you ever saw as I poured my heart out about how I didn’t understand the point behind all of it. Why do you keep trying when you’re never going to get ahead?
And he reminded me that ma’at is much like that.
Back in antiquity, it was believed that ma’at had to be established every day, because existence and creation always lived on the brink of annihilation. Every day the barque would travel across the sky, and the gods would look down upon the world below and watch its machinations. Every evening, the barque would slip into the underworld, the realm of the dead. And every night, Set would have to fight a/pep to keep everything safe. Every night Ra needs to rejoin with Osiris to recharge himself. Every day the gods fight against a/pep and isfet to maintain their existence and the existence of all of creation.
Every. Single. Day.
Without pause, without stop. All the time ma’at and isfet clash together, and it is only through sheer perseverance and dedication that ma’at triumphs as it currently does (generally speaking, I mean, we’re all still here at least). In many ways you might be able to argue that ma’at will never ‘get ahead’. There will always be isfet. There will always be trouble looming over the edge of the horizon. And yet the gods continue with it anyways.
I mulled on this for a couple of weeks. My initial response was that of utter desperation. If the gods could never get ahead, how the hell did I expect to find some peace of mind in this life, with this body of mine? But as I thought on it more and more, I actually felt that viewing my self-care as a means of establishing ma’at within myself made me want to do more self-care.
In a way, I am the center of my universe, which isn’t to be mistaken as being the center of the universe. But I am the center of my universe because everywhere you go, there you are. The scenery around me may change, but I am always there, at the center of my existence, because I can not escape myself. And if I were to treat my universe the way that the gods treat the Created universe, then I realized I would need to be more diligent in maintaining ma’at through my body and how I treat it.
This may involve a shift in how I perceive spending money on myself, spending money on treatment to keep myself healthy, or spending more time on helping my body keep its spoons. I don’t usually scowl when the gods ask me to get them something- I always look at it as a means to help our relationship stay stable, and as a means to help keep them in the world around me. And yet I’m ready and willing to scowl when I need to spend money on something that helps me to have a slightly better existence? It seems hypocritical (because it is). And looking through the lens of ma’at and my body being the center of my universe, I realize those mentalities need to change.
As much as I may wish to be a completely normal, healthy person with minimal health problems, I know that I will never be that. And as much as I wish I were made of money, I also know that that will not likely be the case (or at least, not for a long long while). This is the same as the gods realizing that they are stuck in a form of Creation that is what it is, and that their role within that Creation has to be what it is, lest the Creation cease to Be. It’s not ideal, but it’s what they have, and so they make it work.
As a new layer to my shadow work, I’m going to begin realizing that my body is a vehicle for ma’at. Not necessarily in the sense of writing for this blog, or doing things for others in life. But more in the sense that ma’at flows through my veins, makes up my muscles and tissues, and is bound up in the center that is my universe. And in understanding that, to start viewing the actions that I take to help support the center of my universe as a means of maintaining ma’at and keeping the balance that is the Creation that is me.
When I wrote about unconditional love, I stated that that included loving yourself. So too with ma’at. In order to bring ma’at out into the world, you have to first start with yourself. With the vehicle that is your body, the center of your universe. Your universe which, too, requires persistent dedication to uphold its own ma’at.
What role does self-care play in your practice, if at all? Do you view your body as a means of maintaining ma’at?