the politics of wellbeing
I’ve spent most of my adult life thinking that if I just invest in people’s capacities to change their lives for themselves they will be able to enjoy life more. It’s a noble theory, and I still believe in its value, but I’m questioning more and more what we really free people from when we teach them to lift weights or divide their plate, to grow their own food or make their own kitchen cleaner.
I got strong because I wanted to be able to stand my ground. I got fast because I wanted to flee from danger.
I chose fitness because I was scared, I choose wellbeing because I refuse to be scared any longer.
I’m believing more and more we have to overtly politicise our practices. DIY for its own sake isn’t liberating if you’re still working at Hobby Lobby and unable to get contraception on your health insurance. It can be hugely liberating if you know that you’re undermining other shitty companies who are fucking over their workers, or sticking it to the megaliths of the petropharmachemical industry who slap patents onto vats of fractionated petroleum and lab-grown GMO plant extracts.
Doing pushups doesn’t necessarily make you feel strong when you’re struggling after a day of 2 jobs and as many school runs, cooking the best thing you can to a nutritious dinner with your dollar store groceries (believe me I know this). But knowing how to work out at home eases up the monthly budget enough to top up the salad crisper and gives your muscles the conditioning they need to carry your bags back from the store without paying for an Uber.
My point is, our practice is liberation (as long as we name it, it shall be so). Yet for it to be liberation, we need to frame it as an antidote to the systems of oppression that have raised constructs around us that cause sickness, and sadness, anxiety, and steal the very life from our hearts. We need to claim it as liberation because said systems have found a way to claw their way into the practices we call home, and have slapped a brand strategy and price tag on every single way we have found to defend and heal ourselves.
As practitioners, it’s time we take our reclaim our words, our movements, our communities, and ourselves. And if we don’t position ourselves against the colonizers, there will be nobody left well enough to do it for us.