Cezanne’s Seclusion

Cezanne’s Seclusion
by Stephen Dobyns

“I have begun to think,” he wrote in a late letter,
“that one cannot help others at all.” This
from a man who once called friendship the highest
virtue. And in another he wrote: “Will I ever
attain the end for which I have striven so long?”
His greatest aspiration was certainty
yet his doubts made him blame himself wrongly,
perceiving each painting a disaster. These swings
between boldness and mistrust, intimacy and isolation
led him to stay at home, keep himself concealed,
becoming a sort of hermit, whose passion for the world
directed every brushstroke, changed each creation
into an expression of tenderness, which he dismissed
writing: “a vague sense of apprehension persists.”

“Cezanne’s Seclusion” by Stephen Dobyns, from Body Traffic.

Interested in DNA mapping? Let me do you a favor…

I turned on the radio this morning just in time to hear another breathless report about mapping the human genome. NPR has been running a series that I’ve been listening to with great interest because I think that discoveries like these, along with iPhones/tricorders and 3-D printers/replicators, are this close to creating the Starship Enterprise existence of my husband’s dreams.

Thrilled to have the miracles of science unlocking the deep mysteries of inner space, I pulled out of traffic to fully take in the story. The lead in was thrilling and emotional.

When scientists were looking for the first person to test a new, superfast way of deciphering someone’s entire genetic blueprint, they turned to James Watson – the guy who shared a Nobel Prize for discovering the structure of DNA.
“They had to sequence someone, so they got me,” he says.

Aw! Sounds promising, right? Well, turns out they didn’t discover much, just confirmation that Dr. Watson was sensitive to beta blockers. A greater disappointment to me was this brilliant scientist’s decision to use them anyway, just less frequently, instead of finding his body’s preferred method of controlling his blood pressure.

I let that go for a second while we heard from geneticist Michael Snyder, from Stanford’s genetics department. Sequencing his DNA revealed “shocking” and “dramatic” information — he was at risk for type 2 diabetes. While I appreciate that this information may have been a bit alarming to him, as a health coach I’m acutely aware that MOST Americans are at risk for this particular disease. Geneticists are smart people, so I kept listening. I sort of wish I hadn’t, because what this gentleman chose to do next is the “shocking” part. He asked a doctor to monitor his blood sugar levels and then…well…you can read it:

“The person doing the test said, ‘There’s no way you’re at risk for Type 2 diabetes.’ And I said, ‘Well, I don’t think so, either. But my genome says there’s something interesting about my glucose metabolism, so I think we should do this test,’ ” Snyder said.

So everyone was stunned when his blood sugar started rising — and then kept rising. Within months, it spiked. They had literally watched him become a diabetic in real time.

“So in fact, my genome, then, did predict I was at risk for a disease, which, by following the various markers for that disease, I did discover I did get,” Snyder said.

At risk of sounding kinda snotty, Mr.Snyder, you got the disease because you allowed your blood sugar to be out of control for several months! Like lots of Americans, this gentleman found his blood sugar difficult to control, but in the name of science, he allowed it rise to dangerous levels and eventually “spike”. That doesn’t sound too smart. Thankfully, what he chose to do next does:

Snyder jumped on it. He completely transformed his diet and kicked up his exercise. After about six months, his blood sugar gradually fell back to normal.

“That’s the power of genomics, is to help you catch things as early as possible. So, some people might say that actually, my genome saved my life,” he said.

No, Mr. Snyder, your genome didn’t save your life. Your genome (and your poor judgement) almost killed you. GOOD FOOD AND EXERCISE SAVED YOUR LIFE. By reading your code, you saw that you were prone to type 2 diabetes. You then chose to do nothing but watch the disease progress in your body. It wasn’t until after you were finally diagnosed with the disease that you did anything to treat or prevent it.

Ladies and gentlemen of the internet, let me do you a favor. You are at risk for type 2 diabetes. You should eat well and exercise.

There, I just saved you several thousands of dollars, and possibly your life. You’re welcome.

I didn’t intend for this to be a sales pitch, but if you or someone you love needs help figuring how exactly how to eat well and exercise for a particular genetic situation (otherwise known as your life), I am here to help. Health coaching is a lot like reading DNA — we map your health past, present, and future — but unlike the crazy diabetic geneticists, we take immediate action to treat and prevent disease and disorder in your body. Check out www.springupowell.com to get in touch with me.

Now, back to waiting for the holodeck to load.

The awkward “It’s been a while” post.

Someday I will figure out what I am about.

All those months ago when I turned the great corner and said, to hell with all of this story telling, I’m going to talk about picking up weight, I thought maybe I’d found it — that freedom I was looking for. But then more corners were turned and I was too protective and fearful to map them all out in plain view.

Now I’m back to no blog at all, and a good deal of trapped energy. A million tiny words scratched in a stack of wrinkled notebooks. I wake up each day feeling a little bit like a a character in a very long, confusing, critically acclaimed novel. I am certain that this story is good, but I have NO IDEA what it is about.

Here are the big changes since you and I last met:

1. I opened a health coaching practice that took off like wildfire. I’ve spent a good portion of these last six months learning, loving, and helping women and families integrate their bodies into their lives.

2. My girls enthusiastically embraced school outside of the home. They are fiercely in love with their Montessori school. My heart is not quite sure what to do about this, so I’m just going with being thankful.

3. I’ve started down a terrifying/thrilling path of healing from my childhood. All this work with my body (and in the body) has unlocked memory and feeling that I have spent most of my life avoiding. As I have had more opportunity to share my story, I have been struck by the depth of emotion is stirs up in others. The cold, detached, and dismissive attitude I have toward my own pain and victory is startling.

4. I’ve discovered that I might not be crazy after all. I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder when I was just 13 years old, placed on many different medications, and eventually left to live with the disease as an integral part of my identity. Now, after almost 20 years of fully embracing mental illness, I’ve been told that I might have to let it go.

I’m prying open the blogging door to give me a little more room to study this weird story. I have no idea how interesting, coherent, or consistent I’ll be, so if you’re prone to panic attacks when bad sci-fi gets cancelled mid-season, guard your heart.