Wednesday, June 24, 2015

The body.

The other day, I was in my daughter's kitchen, where her son was talking about something he had heard at church.

"My teacher said your body is like a glove," he said, looking at his hand, "and your hand is like your soul."

I am unfailingly interested in how we think of the body--so often, our metaphors will have the body as other than the self, or as a not-true self, or as a husk which the soul leaves at death.

Because I am thinking obsessively about shelter and home, I ask myself: is the body a home? a shelter? is it a good one?

I've been sick this week, nothing dire, a stomach ailment that has me sticking close to home. Resting. Needing what feels like safety and quiet.

Is the body safety?

I think a lot about how people say that we live too much in our heads, not enough in our bodies. There's truth to this. For me, it's sometimes hard to feel at home in my body--I think this is true for plenty of women. The body can feel like a lifelong project, one that requires an almost fanatic discipline. How to balance the pleasures of the body--of taste and touch and movement--with the desire for it to comply, to be normal, to be ideal.

I'm thinking about this right now because I just I read this (Nik posted it on Facebook). Too, I'm currently reading this, as I've noted. I also found this serendipitously.

I read, once, on a blog I still keep up with, something a young woman wrote. She said, "I am not my body." A few years ago, she survived a small plane crash with serious, almost fatal burns, therapy for which persists to this day and will no doubt go on for years. The body is a theme of hers--how could it not be? isn't it for all of us?--and she often expresses gratitude for her body, for what she is able to do and be because of that survival, and because of her recovery.

I've thought about what she said ever since. I think, I am my body. My body is me. I try to bring my attention to my restlessness, my ease, my desire to leap up, to depart, my enjoyment, my desire to linger, to stay. These seem to me to be also the movements and dispositions of my spirit. It's hard to separate them. When I'm writing, when I'm making something. When I'm cooking. When I'm with my children, laughing. When my grandchildren are near me. When Bruiser, lying next to us on the bed while we watch television or read, heaves a great doggy sigh. The animal comfort I take in just being near my husband. When life is good sometimes, for hours and even days at a time, I feel entirely whole. At home with myself.

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