As it turns out, I have a body.
I am thirty years old, but this is news to me.
I have spent much of my life in my head, contemplating and imagining and daydreaming and worrying and, of course, reading and writing. All of these skills are very good skills to have, I believe; for me, they are essential to meaning-making and good storytelling and, that very best thing of all, love, love, and still more love. (Which is to say: the good life.)
And yet, spending so much time in my head sometimes gets me into a bit of trouble.
For starters, a permanent crease (read: wrinkle) has settled between my eyebrows, such that it looks like I’m perpetually in deep-thinking mode, even in those rare moments when I truly am just staring off blissfully into space, for once not taking myself too seriously—not taking myself any way at all, actually. (Now that I think about it, I suppose my face really has gotten stuck “that way,” as the adults in my life always warned the child-me that it would. I did not know then the hazards that too much thinking could pose to a person’s soul, much less her body. Sigh.)
I am what I believe they call too cerebral. (As if you hadn’t gathered as much already.)
And so, when my body began failing me, at first I did not notice; or I noticed, but I did not heed it. Who needs a body?
Well, I do, it turns out.
After a brief hospital stay (all is well, thankfully), I realized that this body of mine needs me as much as I need it. That is to say, it requires a certain amount of sleep each night, and daily exercise, and three sound meals a day. It needs to drink water each day (and not, say, subsist on a liquid diet of pop or coffee or my beloved chai tea), and to stretch and move about whenever possible instead of succumbing to the sloth-like stupor that inevitably sets in after eight hours in a cubicle; and it needs to touch and be touched by another similarly embodied human being (it is surprising the things in life, both great and small, that can be cured by a good, strong dose of spooning).
And none of these things, of course, can be done telekinetically (much as we might wish our bodies to be like so many spoons, bending this way and that way with thought-power alone).
This stubborn physicality is one of the greatest gifts of the human condition, I believe, and not only in the obvious pleasure-seeking ways we tend to think of at first blush (though certainly those, too, of course).
If the Good Book and the cult sci-fi classic are to be believed—if, that is to say, from dust we are created and to dust we shall return, one way or another—then perhaps, in this fragile, glorious in-between time, we could stand to think a little less and be a little more.
(And, of course, by “we” I really mean “me.” Sigh.)
It is in these bodies, after all, that we live and move and have our being. So, as seems to be my mantra lately, a little less thinking just might be good for me.
Maybe, with a little bit of practice, I’ll be able to un-stick this poor face of mine, after all.