Sunday, February 12, 2012

Body Image Thoughts: The Weight of the Heart

I hope everyone's having a good weekend. Busy here, and thawing still.

Just wanted to check in with some follow up thoughts on body image and writerly goals. I'm so grateful for the sensitive and smart comments on my post about this last week. I'm also aware that I was kind of belligerent about my unwillingness to "compromise" or to accept things just as they are. And it's true: I am belligerent and defiant about this, and I recognize that that may seem a ridiculous denial of my true lack of control, and/or that it might be triggering to someone.

With that in mind, and always in the interests of ulterior harmony, balance, I offer these few thoughts to counter my own obduracy.

1) Several people have pointed this one out to me, but perhaps my own mom is the person who expressed it best: Be aware of how you appear to other people. It's so easy to get caught up in our own insecurities and inadequacies, but if we look out beyond ourselves, there are all these other people in our lives, of all different shapes and sizes. We're not in competition to be thinner than them, nor to be a better writer--one of the things I most adore about being a writer is that I always cheer on my fellow writers and really feel far more pride in their achievements than I ever feel envy. We are all co-creating one another! If I think of how I can be a part of my community, be that writing group, family, the people I'm teaching in a class, or any other group of people, and if I think of how my role and persona are perceived from the other side of my own head, I'm likely to see a different person--a valued person.

2) I might think that I can control my body by micro-managing what goes into it, but unless I grow all my own food from scratch and create my own water, I can't do that! I don't know what pesticide residues are on my produce that might affect my hormones. I don't know what low-percentage ingredient in my protein powder might upset my stomach. I don't know what the cellular constituency of my cracked-cell-wall chlorella is, or what bugs culture my kim chee. Even if I grow sprouts in a jar, I don't know what is growing on them, invisible to me! As for water, if I use city water, I'm facing chlorine and fluorine that can mess with endocrines and gut bacteria, as well as traces of prescription drugs and other chemicals. If I go for spring water, I'm opening myself up to whatever bugs all the animals upstream pooped into it (Phil had giardia just a few months ago from spring water).

3) Remember that in the Ancient Egyptian afterlife, it wasn't the weight of your body that was held in the balance against the feathers: it was the heart. And that's worth remembering as part of a writing practice, too.