Monday, November 5, 2012
My Other Half
I heard a woman speak a few weeks ago about the split between the physical and the intellectual in our culture. Specifically, she spoke about the ways in which we repress the physical and champion the intellect. We ignore our need for sleep, proper nutrition, fresh air. We disparage our female (and male) bodies, wishing to look like someone else. And in many of our most respected institutions (schools, churches, many workplaces), we rein our bodies in even further by forcing ourselves to sit still and think, listen, look. Think, for example, of a classical music performance, where any physical response to the music is discouraged and even physical responses, such as clapping with too much enthusiasm or at the wrong time, are frowned upon.
As I was listening to this woman speak, I started to think about how my relationship to the physical has shifted in recent years...since becoming a mother. I am not sure if I can explain why, but I trust the physical more now. I trust my own physical body. And I am understanding more and more how powerful it can be to connect with others in a physical way. This can mean dancing together, walking together, but it can even be as simple as putting my entire being into a sincere hand shake or hug, or making eye contact when I am speaking with someone.
Why has motherhood made these acts feel different?
It could be just result of those two incredible moments of birth that made me understand how amazingly powerful our bodies can be. That seems like the obvious answer, doesn't it? But I do not think that is entirely it.
I think about the way we relate to our children, the way we watch them grow and learn. We interact with them at every moment in both physical and intellectual ways. We are aware of the changes in their bodies, we watch them grow and develop, we know the smallest difference in their digestion or their temperature or their strength. Maybe watching them makes me more conscious of my own growth (both past and present) as well as my own frailty.
This is really just an inkling of an idea. I am not anywhere near understanding it, but nonetheless, I know it to be true. If you can make any sense of this thing that I am trying to say, I am wondering if you might, perhaps, feel the same. I would love to hear what you have to say.