Have you ever been to London? And if you have, did you ride the Underground?
In 2009, I went. And I did. And it was every bit as awesome as I ever could have imagined.
True, I was living in DC at the time and the DC Metro really isn’t that different from the London Underground, and yet, it felt quite different to me. My favorite thing? The warnings to “mind the gap”:
And even better was how polite people were. Until recently, I had a nasty habit of severely over packing when I traveled. (Don’t worry, baggage fees and lost luggage have essentially cured me.) As I lugged my ridiculously large suitcase around in London, people constantly offered me help. My favorite line: “Can you manage, love?”
He called me love! What an excellent term of endearment! I hope I can make it a habit when I have kids someday, because it’s just too good!
Last week, I had a well-timed therapy session as I was nearing a melt down and I was reminded of how frequently we need to mind the gap– and not just when us Yanks are tooling around London. But everyday. (My therapist agreed that it would make an awesome blog post– he’s super blog-supportive, I love it. Nothing like validation from a medical professional to convince a crazy person they’re doing it right!)
You see, our world is full of gaps– big ones– between society and biology, and some of them have become dangerously large. At least to me.
Our food is engineered to maximize bliss. Don’t believe me? Check out Salt Sugar Fat by Michael Moss. It’s hard to know quite how to eat when our biology is constantly being manipulated for the purpose of increasing consumption.
Sleep patterns are pretty disrupted by the availability of light on demand… not to mention all that screen time. A recent study found that after just a week of camping, away from artificial light and modern technology, study participants’ internal clocks essentially “reset” to sync with the sun.
Fertility is another big one– our biological peak fertility occurs when, from a societal perspective, having kids is something of a no-no (unless you can get yourself on MTV). I’ve heard that the most sure fire way to get pregnant is to be 16 and in the back of a car. For many of us, that ship has long since sailed…
And I could go on listing gaps, chasms even, between biology and society in many different areas– body image and expectations, women’s equality and femininity, familial instinct and the mommy wars, etc, etc, etc.
So what are we to do? How are we to balance the things dictated by our biology with the expectations we face in our society?
The best answer I can come up with is relatively simple:
Trust your gut. Trust your eyeballs. Trust your heart. Trust your instincts to lead you in the right direction for YOU.
Trust yourself to mind the gap.
And trust that others are minding it for themselves.
With respect to food, I agree with Dr. Yoni Freedhoff in believing that the best life for ME is the healthiest one I can enjoy– and that includes food choices. I try my best to eat the carrots, but often eat the cookie too. That’s cool.
With respect to sleep, I believe that the best thing you can do for yourself is listen to your body. I’m not exactly the best sleeper, but naps have recently become something of a hobby for me. And it is good.
And fertility– how about if we all just stop asking about it? I believe I discussed leaving other people alone when it came to s-e-x a while ago (see numbers 11 and 12). And I’m pretty sure this is an extension of that. Someone else’s choice or not choice to have or not have children is really nunya bizness. And if you haven’t already, read this— it’s genius. Says it much better than I ever could.
And in all those other myriad ways in which our society bucks biology, we just have to do the best we can to avoid tripping or getting stuck or falling in, whatever it is that the London transportation authorities are so concerned about, that gap… we must mind it, love!
…but because we’re all in this together, perhaps lending a hand with a suitcase every now and then would be good too.