10 Life Lessons From My Irritated Bowels

This past week, in the beautiful cloud forest of Mindo, I was finally initiated into the sacred rite of having serious diarrhea. Three months and many parasites in, it’s even become a badge of honor in our cohort to have shit your pants. I am now among those proudly inducted.


I invite you to enjoy a few pearls of wisdom from my enlightening journey to the bathroom and back… and to the bathroom again.


10 Life Lessons From My Irritated Bowels

1. Learn to love the uphill, for the downhill will irritate your bowels.


2. Appreciate the metaphorical sweetness of life, as real sugar will irritate your bowels.


3. Plans? You could make plans. But just remember who’s the real boss: your irritated bowels.


4. Embarrassed? Oh yes, you certainly could be embarrassed. But just know that your irritated bowels have a song to sing, and they love an audience. So the more people in that public bathroom where you’re cowering in the stall, the louder your irritated bowels will sing the song of their people.


5. The Circle of Life: brought to you by your irritated bowels.

Your irritated bowels will introduce you to many circles in the course of your time together– circles of toilet paper, circles of thought, and circles of steps as you find your way, always, back to the bathroom. It’s like one of those meditation labyrinths, but with a constant fear of shitting your pants. And if you and your irritated bowels do decide to watch the Lion King together for some bonding time, just know that you will likely miss The Circle of Life part (which is irrefutably the best part) as you will be in the bathroom. Accept this truth. Make peace with it.


6. Love in the Time of Irritated Bowels.

Gabriel Garcia Marquez writes in his Nobel Prize winning Love in the Time of Cholera, “the symptoms of love are the same as those of cholera.” Your dear irritated bowels feel unjustly left out of this comparison. For they too will make you a sweaty, heart-pounding, pupils dilated, nervous, feverish mess but not to find true love… to find the nearest bathroom. And at the end of the day, your irritable bowels will actually help you find true love better than any dating site ever could. Your superficial relationships will not last through your time with irritated bowels. Only those who truly love you will stay to the wheezing, dehydrated end. What’s more, your irritated bowels would like to remind you, they love you too! Your stomach only hurts so much because they’re twisting your intestines into hearts.


7. Let it be, let it go, let it pass.

When I find myself in times of trouble, my irritated bowels, they come to me. Speaking words of wisdom, they remind me: let it be. Then, in a more threatening tone, they remind me I have no power here and no choice but to let it be. ‘It’ being their hostile takeover of my digestive system.


8. Que Sera, Sera.

As I begin my nineteenth year, marinating in uncertainty as to where I’ll be in a month, a year, or ten years, my irritated bowels reassure me. They remind me there’s no time like the present, and whatever I may run toward in the future, right now I must run toward the nearest bathroom.


9. Faith.

Whichever religion you may practice, know today that you are not at the mercy of any wrathful god, but rather, at the mercy of your wrathful irritated bowels.


10. Surprises!

Your irritated bowels are thrilled for you to know: that wasn’t just a fart.