You know that feeling of desire for someone? The arousal of imagining your hands or lips or body against theirs? Of wanting to know their weight in your arms, the smell of their neck, the sounds of pleasure they can make? And how that wish can grow and even sweeten when it isn’t quickly fulfilled?
And you know that feeling – either in your own experience, or maybe vicariously through watching love scenes in movies – of a long-held wish finally being fulfilled? The surprise, almost, of feeling that skin, that warmth – the very feel and weight of it that you’ve only ever imagined – near you? How wondrous and joyous that can be?
I watched a video about skin cancer last week that got me wondering whether that feeling – that sense of wonder and joy and even startle at getting to feel the realness of a body/soul that’s been long wished-for – could be one we experience in relation to our own selves. To explain…
I have had seasons in my life when I’ve felt more and less embodied. I went through a season in my late 20s and another in my early 30s of seeking out experiences that would help me feel more at ease in my skin. Belly dancing, two types of Thai Chi, and 5Rhythms Dance were all things I pursued, and I remember feeling more connected with myself during both of those seasons than I ever have before or since.
My current life season, however, while involving lots of physical motion, has left me feeling much less embodied. The work of raising kids and of thinking and writing here has left little space in my days and brain for noticing my body. Apart from my time at this screen, I’m rarely without kids under foot, so that, too, makes it difficult to take time for anything beyond the bare essentials of hygiene and grooming, and when some part of me is injured or aching, time beyond popping an Advil or just gritting my teeth through the pain while I work at more pressing tasks at hand.
In essence, right now, I’m a brain, a soul, and a worker. I’m not a body.
And then I watched this video.
And while this wasn’t the point of the video at all, it was between the 3:30 and 4-minute mark that I realized, with something similar to that wonder and joy and startle I wrote about above – that I am a body, too. Though the feeling wasn’t sexualized in any way, it was sensual. It was the way movies often have angels feel when they get to experience physicality again, or someone whose beloved has died miraculously getting to hug and hold that dear one’s living, breathing body once again.
I am a body, or at least I’m living in one (or some combination of both!), and this is the body that’s housed me for 30-some odd years. This is the same body that had stitches at age 3, and ran home-made obstacle courses at age 7, and raced barefoot across the yellow cross-walk lines during all those desert summers to avoid the even hotter asphalt beneath. This is the body that stepped on a bee, that wished – always wished – to be shorter and curvier, that traipsed across the globe at 16 and heard the hippos’ nightly calls across Lake Nakuru. This is the body that camped, that rocked the volleyball court, that developed stress-induced hypoglycemia, that bore two kids.
This is me. I’m still here. The shock of it!
I say all of this wondering whether there are many of us here, living our days as though we are brains and workers, disconnected from the flesh that is our home. And I say it wondering, too, whether coming mindfully home to ourselves, to our flesh, might be a doorway to a way of feeling and being in the world that’s grounded in a comforting, reassuring way – no matter whether our bodies are far from what we’d wish them to be in terms of height or weight or dexterity or function or not.
Could it be that looking ourselves fully in the eyes, and in the face, and in the neck, and the torso, and arms, and hands, and legs, and feet – greeting ourselves, maybe literally, in the mirror each day and growing in that practice more comfortable with what we find and see and discover there: could it be that this is a move toward the wholeness and the trust that we long to know on every level, every day?