So, instead of getting started with my term paper or sorting out the clutter under my desk, I’m going to type up a post that, probably, no one’s going to read. Instead of attempting to do some push-ups, a gruesome prospect because I haven’t tried that in 3 months, I’m going to raid the fridge. I’m going to eat olives or dried mango, and watch YouTube videos of auditions on the Voice. Instead of going out for a walk, because Fall is leaving, and it was so short and so beautiful, I’ll scroll through some form of social media, crawled up in bed, with coffee.
None of these things make sense to me. I still haven’t adapted to my life completely. I know what I want and oftentimes I know how to get it. I’ve become closely acquainted with me over the years, and I know what makes me happy, and what makes me feel good and what makes me laugh. I’ve studied the limitations of my body, and I’ve discovered the ecstasy that comes with defying them. My brain and I, we’ve grudgingly accepted each other and I’ve learned to enjoy the company of my thoughts, and to trust their advice.
So what happens when you kind of, sort of, tentatively and with wonder, figure out life? Well, often, I cave into my cravings and stuff my face with pizza. Because that kind of clarity is really overwhelming, ok? And when you stumble and fall flat on your face, and realize you’ve landed in a pile of glorious and brilliant Truth? Well, your heart swells to meet your throat, and your mind aches, and you are afraid suddenly that you feel your soul. I constantly struggle with biting my nails, and when I get exposed to something mind boggling that sounds suspiciously true, I tend to bite them a lot. Just saying. It’s not an easy thing.
I am not entirely sure why my body and I never became friends. We definitely tolerate each other, and make sure to be polite. Like you do with your neighbors. Especially if you share driveways or take in each other’s UPS packages. But unfortunately, we’ve never “clicked.” We’ve known each other 19 years and we’ve never, not once, finished the other’s sentence.
In fact, I often feel like my body’s weighing me down, or getting in the way of my goals. Many times, I am thoroughly shocked by how much I want something but don’t act upon it. I’m ok with my weight and my looks, but I don’t feel free. I love the open sky and the wetness and stillness of the woods, and my body loves my bed and the softness of my sheets. I love the deep hurt of my legs and lightness of my bones after jogging or working out, and my body adores pasta and burgers. My body insists on sleep and on bathroom breaks and hydration and lip balm in the winter…and me? Well, I’d just like to backpack around the world and listen to strangers’ stories and run out howling into the rain when it pours.
I imagine sometimes, a bit shamefully, the pleasantness of living in a world entirely metaphysical. This is not a very thought out concept, and it doesn’t fully make sense. Especially because our current world is gorgeous. But it’s too much sometimes, y’know? Makes it hard to focus. Makes it so damn hard to study and to be brave. And also, sometimes, it’s just unacceptable. There are levels of suffering that my mind usually, selfishly, shirks from; a luxury unavailable to the children hungry, to the people ravished by cancer, to the girls that had their selves stolen right out of their hands. There are demons that stalk our Earth that know nothing sacred and I want them dead.
And also, this world is demanding. I don’t want it to matter, but… I’d really like some money, and I want to be pretty, and I want, very, very much to be healthy, and to be brilliant, and also, if we’re talking about this anyway, artistic. I want the world to overflow inside my veins until my blood is dyed with its intensity. And when I can’t quite accomplish that, I sort of resort to… eating food and reading novels and giggling with my friends even when nothing’s particularly funny?
Without our bodies, we would be free to roam, tirelessly, unhindered. We would love people for their insides and the details of their souls. We would drink knowledge without getting bloated, and we would explore places without boundaries. We would build sanctuaries inside the notes of music and we could weave ideas out of invisible strings. We would have no body that might malfunction, no bodies to maim or to judge or to lust after. And it will be wonderful.
But, it won’t ever snow. There will never be twilight, the lavender wrapping up of the day. There will be no dancing and no laughing at bad jokes and no cheetahs and no deserts to hike. There will be no ocean and no ships and no bridges. And would we miss all of that, and would it matter? Because Life is tricky, and teases us every day as we try to navigate it. We pile up the maps and atlases in the back seat and peruse the web for advice from people who’ve had more experience. And, armed with forewarning of every upcoming bump in the road, and peppered with tales and lessons of every sort, we still smash the car, and end up huddled on the side of the highway, waiting for help in the drizzle. It’s embarrassing really.
Actually, pizza, sort of, indirectly, makes me into a better person. Because it tempts me, again and again, and again and again, I say “no.” Then, eventually, I give in. But the abstinence, while it lasts, makes my character strain its muscles and grow more toned and skilled. And the eventual slice tastes incredible, and so it makes me appreciate it all the more, and yes, I appreciate life. Life can really be really enhanced with food. And that’s definitely something to be appreciated. Not always, but often. We were created with an affinity to pleasure that is perhaps just as strong as our affinity to pain. We emerge battered and powerful from our suffering, and we emerge aglow and glorious from our gratifications. Also, we- or I, at least- mess up- a lot. And you know what that does? It adds to my rep sheet, and to my memories and to my resolve. Every day, I’m learning more and more, about me and about others, and even when that sometimes stinks, it also builds up parts of me that make me proud.
Can we outsmart Life? We can’t. We can attack it and wrestle it down to the floor, and then laugh with it. We can flatter it into a doubtful friendship. We can study its quirks till we find them tolerable and even a bit endearing. But we will always be one step behind.
So, do you know what one of my main projects is? Learning to love my body. Like, falling crazy in love. This body, these cobalt blue eyes and these chapped lips and these freckled arms; this body that enables me to travel and to sing in the shower and talk to people and write bad poetry and do all the things I want to do. I am learning to appreciate its thirst and its spontaneity and its loyalty and its humor. Not every love comes easy. But, watch me do this.