Day 1: Cura Personalis

Hi, guys! So I thought this had been posted on Monday when I was at the library, but apparently not! So it’s going up now and I am going to continue to rest and recuperate because this cold is not going away easy. I’ll be back soon!

Okay, I have a confession to make. I’m writing this post because I forgot to bring the book I was going to review with me when I left the house. Brought all the books I needed to return to the library, but not that one or the one I’m actually reading right now. Great planning, right? Though I have to admit that it wasn’t bad for someone who got ready in about 5 minutes.

But forgetting that book has let me think about a small problem in my life now that I’ve decided to actually change my ways and be a better person. How do I balance my brain and my body now that I’m actually paying attention to my body?

Look. For the last ten or so years I’ve been that person whose exercise is primarily books. I workout my brain all day long. Thinking is my work, my hobby and my passion. So right now I’m a bit like that guy you see in the gym who always skips leg day. Except my brain is where all the muscle is and my body looks like chicken legs (if chicken legs were fat, you know). Need an image to explain the metaphor? Take a look at this guy:

So right now the problem is that I’m finding it hard to balance my usual brain work with my new commitment to train my body. Do I have enough time? Do I have enough energy? How do I make sure I’m able to do both? Do I need to do less of my brain stuff now that I’m trying to work out? Am I thinking too much about the working out and not doing enough brain stuff? Is this blog even about books and ideas anymore or is it just me and all my annoying Crossfit/Paleo/Vegan obsession? Dear god, have I become this guy?!

I probably am. And when I do, I hope someone steps in and stops me. I mean you. I hope you step in and stop me.

I think more fundamentally, the problem is finding a good life balance. What I’m really trying to do is become a more complete person. I actually don’t want to be obsessed with anything. I want to do what I need to do and what I want to do and I want to do them well. I want to write and think well and I want to be well in my body.

At the Jesuit university I went to as an undergrad, one of our school mottos was Cura Personalis. Cura personalis is Latin for “care of the whole person.” In college, it meant that students and teachers tried to care for each other as people, not just as students in one class. I can tell you that in my case, all my professors lived up to that. Their example has always stuck with me and I try to live out what they taught me in my interactions with others. Now I’m learning how to do it with myself.

Saint Ignatius has always fascinated me. He was a very interesting individual and I admire the Jesuits he created. They have been some of the most upstanding, kind and open people I have ever met. When Saint Ignatius talked about cura personalis, he was very serious. Take this story as an example:

“St. Ignatius once wrote a letter to a Jesuit ordering him to take better care of his health after learning that he was not eating properly; his ministry was taking away from the proper care of his body. Ignatius wrote, “For the next three months, from now until September, you are to do no preaching, but are to look after your health.” Ignatius implored him to follow doctor’s advice under the vow of obedience.”

This is what the Jesuits have to say about cura personalis today:

“In the same way, our Christian faith ought to involve not just head but heart, not just soul but body. Spiritual exercises are as important as physical exercises. Learning is as important as a good diet. We pray, learn, and eat healthy as ways to glorify God and care for our entire selves. Sadly, there is often great disregard for our minds and bodies, which are gifts from God.”

The Jesuits are my example for this part of my life changes. They understand that a person is body, mind and spirit. These are three aspects I need to focus on as I try to be a better person. What it all comes down to, really, is this question: Do I want my kids to have all three qualities in healthy quantities for themselves? Yes, and that means I need to have them so I can provide and example of how to accomplish this.

Right now, I’m trying to figure out how to do this. Perhaps an indicator that I’m going through this change right now is the books that I picked up at the library minutes before I sat down to write. A book on nutrition and a book on the philosophical concept of evil. I’m broadening my horizons.

I’m also broadening the scope of this blog. In many ways, it mirrors my head. That’s why there are two posts in a row on my life changes and fitness. That is what is most present in my head. Looking back at the recent posts in my blog is how I gauge my own interests and activity. If I’m proactive in thinking about this, I can manage to keep a good balance at the outset. Maybe. We’ll see how it goes. An throughout I hope I can remember: cura personalis.

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