Choosing weirdness over wellness.

I’ve wondered a while why “wellness” gives me the willies. (Although I’m astutely aware of my affection for alliteration.)


And while this wondering predates the current corona crisis, the crisis creates clarity for me:


Most of what I see marketed as “wellness” is actually self gratifying toxic positivity.


And I can’t help but think: is our wellness obsession a response to our mental health crisis, or is it the other way around?


A few weeks back, I was midway through a heartbreaking read about what the deadly virus and subsequent lockdown mean in the slums of India (which has been joined since by the heartbreaking reads about Navajo Nation, the rural U.S. south, and now the barrios of Brazil) when my doorbell rang. It was Amazon. With food. For my dogs.


That’s right. I live in a time and place where a 15-year-old Indian girl bikes 745 miles toting her disabled dad for a chance at survival. But food for my pets is delivered to my doorstep in the midst of a global pandemic. This is WEIRD.


{Did you know there's a movement in social science away from using our W.E.I.R.D. (Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich, Democratic) brains to make any conclusions about Homo sapiens in general because we're such strange outliers?}


But this weirdness is not pandemic specific. It’s the same weirdness that poked me months ago when I learned that here in Kansas City, my life expectancy may be up to 17 years longer than a black male living less than 15 minutes away.


Before you stop reading and write this off as an attempt to “out woke” you, I assure you that’s not my goal. If it was, I would’ve chosen the alternate title “Too Woke for Wellness”.


Stick with me.


The weirdness can overwhelm in large swells on a societal scale, but also in small waves on a solo scale:

I’m supposed to be confident, but humble, Myself, but better.

Content, but unsatisfied.

Zen, but outraged.


Being a human person in a flesh-and-bone body on this tiny, giant spinning rock feels exceedingly weird and entirely unwell. And I’m wary and skeptical of (and honestly, disinterested in) any life practice that encourages me to numb, ignore, avoid, hide and/or pacify the discomfort the weirdness brings.


Welcoming the weirdness feels wiser, on both scales. In the larger world, because comfort causes complacency. And in the smaller sphere, because unwillingness to accept, embrace, and USE my whole humanity means I’m unable to accept, embrace and BE WITH others in theirs.


I'd rather normalize the "negative" - those perfectly natural human feelings that are here to help.


My human-ness is not unhealthy. It's not a sign I'm doing this wrong. It's not even existential punishment.


And, despite an industry selling me solutions, it's not a problem to be fixed. It's a tool to be used.


Use the weirdness wisely.


© 2019 by Ashley Smith & Milagro Midwestern Spa Collective