Wednesday, November 19, 2008

We're Only Human

A friend I haven’t spoken to in a long while called today. She’s giving serious thought to having bariatric surgery.

I was surprised, as I usually am, when someone I know tells me they are considering having surgery for weight loss. I know a few people who have either had surgery, or have been ‘banded’. Most of them are still struggling with their weight.

I’ve had an on and off relationship with weight loss for most of my life, and my closet, as one of my friends likes to joke, used to have several different size clothes, to accommodate my weight surges and losses. Nowadays, there’s only one size of clothes in my closet and drawers. Not because I’ve mastered the battle of the bulge, but because I’ve adjusted my attitude and don’t fret anymore about my weight. As one of my cousins says, “This year I’m thin, maybe next year I’ll be heavy. But I’ll always be happy with myself.”

Some might say that’s not the healthiest attitude, but I think it’s great. I’m not a proponent of overweight (I’m appalled every time I’m in the States at the level and acceptance of obesity), but I’m very troubled when I hear my friends saying, as my friend did today, that once they lose weight they will be happy.

I talked with her awhile, questioning why she felt that losing weight was the key to being happy. She hemmed and hawed, and said she just knew, and that she hadn’t been sleeping well because of it. I’ve known her for a few years, and she’s always seemed to be one of those people who are perpetually depressed. I asked her if she had considered taking an antidepressant; that I have some friends whose lives have been improved by taking them. She said no, she was convinced that losing weight was what she needed.

She said that she admired my happiness, but that it was something she could not achieve. I referred her to my first blog entry, where I discuss why I titled my blog ‘A Gleeful Life’. I told her that ever since the epiphanal moment that I describe in that entry, my friends have commented how I seem much more relaxed, less frantic, and happy.

After we hung up, I reflected on our conversation for quite a while. I kept wanting to feel badly that she felt her path to happiness lay under a surgeon’s knife, but I realized that while I felt a tinge of sadness, it was mingled with well wishes that she find happiness and health by any means that she felt necessary.

Maybe one day I’ll find a need to consider similar surgery, but until then I’ll be wondering if we should be concerned when people turn to surgery – be it bariatric or plastic- as a path to happiness. I wish life were as simple as getting up in the morning, stretching and exercising, and instinctively reaching for a bowl of granola. But I know that it’s not that simple for everyone, and I’m fine with that. We’re only human, after all, and we each have our own paths, burdens, and roads to travel. As long as we accept each other, and strive to help each other however we can, I’m content.

My husband has two favorite quotes which I love:

“If we spent less time trying to make this world a better place to live in,
and more time trying to make ourselves better persons to live with,
the world would be a better place to live in.”

“Life is like a mirror, we get the best results when we smile at it.”

Hear, hear.

Applause. Smile.

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