My Body Is a Mystery

My Body Is a Mystery
Naomi Shihab Nye

My body is a mystery
a magical geography of skin
It keeps me in

And I travel in it everywhere
sometimes it seems to beat me there
and then we meet again

Oh my eyes are the windows
And my face is the sky
And my legs are the trees that hold me
My hands are the branches and my head is a box
and I spend my lifetime picking locks

My body is a symphony
a tuba and a piccolo and drum
I hear some drum

And it sometimes seems to beat so low
And other times it makes me want to run
and then I have to run

Oh my blood is the music
and my voice finds the notes
And my lungs are conductors singing One! Two!
And I sometimes lose the melody but I
never lose the dream
of the songs that might come through

Because my body is a mystery
a magical geography of skin
that keeps me in
And I travel in it everywhere
sometimes it seems to beat me there and then
We meet again
Oh we always meet again

“My Body Is a Mystery” pg. 58 & 59

My body has always seemed like a mystery. Just when I think I have things figured out, a new variable enters the picture and I’m back to the drawing board. My life changed drastically when I was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes in 2005. Although I can’t remember being utterly concerned with what was going on inside me prior to diagnosis, it seems much of my mind space has been occupied by these kind of thoughts in the 11+ years since.

Diabetes has taught me many things over the past decade. One of the greatest lessons I’ve received as a student of T1D is the virtue of patience when it comes to these miraculous machines we inhabit. Our bodies are complex, intensely related and interconnected systems with lots of critically important jobs to do. Reminding myself that there is only so much within my control is an important part of the strategies I use for diabetes success. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve noticed a high blood sugar and immediately been thrown off emotionally. Even if I had yet to experience any of the typical physical symptoms like thirst, blurred vision, or needing to use the restroom more frequently, the psychology symptoms would flood my brain at an alarming and overwhelming rate. I’m thankful I have learned to recognize the merit in remaining calm and approaching what I’m dealing with in a rational, more pragmatic way.

I have truly begun to appreciate the wonders of being more in tune with my own body. After living life so recklessly for years, it’s interesting to pay so much attention in order to observe patterns and anticipate changes. One of the things that has brought me a great deal of awareness of both my physical and mental state is yoga . After creating an intention this past fall to deepen my practice and commit myself to more time on the mat, I have found that the duality of the challenge, testing both my body and my mind simultaneously, has been an additional asset in my diabetes management. Beyond that, the forgiving nature of yoga and constantly being told by teachers to honor yourself and listen to what your body needs, has been integral in my mission to love myself more. It’s all too easy to become angry and frustrated when you have a body plagued by chronic illness and I am thankful to have found the serenity and sovereignty I feel when I take the floor and work through some asanas.


I love this poem by Naomi Shihab Nye because it resonates with my idea that health within these bodies we inhabit is not a destination. Health is the vehicle that can take us through this life. So although a few aspects of my health may be out of my control, like my ability to produce insulin, or my delayed gastric emptying, there is a wealth of knowledge that exists to aide me in my journey. If anything, having a chronic illness can illuminate something within you. It can spark a desire to take back control and return to the helm of the ship as captain once again. I have empowered myself with every bit of information I’ve been able to absorb along the way and am finding such fulfillment and purpose pursuing further education in holistic health and wellness.

Finding a balance between the body and mind is an elegant dance filled with twists, turns, and an occasional change in tempo. There comes a time when each one of us must reconcile with our own immortality and realize that in these bodies we will live and in these bodies we will die. You can’t do it for anyone else but yourself. I encourage others to explore what brings them joy and to find the tools that help them grow and that serve their mission. In the broad scheme of the universe and existence, our time here is short, so ask yourself what you’d like to learn and what you’d like to leave behind when you go. What about this great big mystery would you want to solve?


1 Comment

  1. That poem is absolutely beautiful && I have no doubt that they’ll be quoting your wise && beautiful words soon as well. I love reading your writing my dear, just touches my heart! 💕

    Liked by 1 person

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