I leave what body is and is not to those with the scholarly acumen to deal with it—and instead am concerned with the meaning of body, alive.
The earth spins in a ballet of universal orchestration, as if a great and mighty hand has choreographed the dance and composed the score... to think of all of the life it has carried, blown about by the whims of a force as fickle as the wind... our originators, our agrarian great- great-great-greats... to us. A modern body is constantly in motion, in a curious sort of transport from one place to another. We are beamed between points by way of roads painstakingly built by heaving, sighing, tired bodies. Bodies made the world.
For one to be in their body is a graceful thing—in this bumping, cataclysmic world that induces paralysis and paroxysms, that expects perfection of the mundane, and can create circumstances that sweep one into hell.
A body flutters and captivates like a butterfly; one knows the people who accomplish the effect of being human torches—infused with radiance, drawing eyes, carrying a charm indescribable. They extend to one, it seems, a hand invisible, as if to embrace one’s own frailty with hope... the beauty of humankind can be summed up in a graceful outstretched palm, an elegant posture, a memorable smile, expressive shoulders—the physicality just a front for the human spirit that lurks beneath, waiting and waiting to emerge (To be young is to be enthralled by anything which appeals to the vanity of physicality. Anything to be on display, to be new; we are getting old.) The wonderful absurdity of humans: in perpetual dissatisfaction with the body, we take upon the added difficulty of variety and choice in coats and plumage.
As the body weakens, it grows fatigued; hair loses color, knuckles become stiff, the spine tires, the gait slows, eyesight and hearing fade. Our senses are the first to be stolen. Aging happens despite best intentions—new lines appear and one is aghast—for youth is a “dream” (Fitzgerald) one thought would last forever; all of life, at least.
Bodies accumulate the debris of time and experience and carry it in their orbits, as a sun collects planets. One is carved indelibly with an impression of the lives one has lived thus far. One carries this burden, interacts with this heaviness flowing out in every burst of emotion. Every human carries the past—every single one—covered in layers, worn down with time. One wonders how humans have withstood being themselves for so long. For how many of us have wished to be reborn as someone else, to live life in the body of someone else? The body is liable to give up on any one of us at any second. A day is gone from a sudden headache. A body shrinks and becomes small, a burrowing thing, a frightened mouse—shrinks from contact, evades and avoids—when one is frightened into the caves of fear (dark places), the mind weaves around itself in a suffocating knot. Body takes over.
The land of the mind attempts to compensate for the limits of the body. Dreams are the strangest—a transport of the body without moving, to unknown places. We all have a desire to leave the body, to perform an act of alchemy every day, a mental and physical form of movement in stasis. Our bodies in this sense cannot do what our minds do. A jolt—and I am here, inside these walls, startled into the electricity of being. A walk: Everything is sound again—boots on the ground, sidewalk passing by underneath in a blur of motion—a glimpse of people leaning, laughing, whispering, hand in hand—bodies and bodies, bodies upon other bodies.
“Studies of the body reveal, upon closer inspection...” Body takes over. To talk of the concert of a body takes one away from it, because the body is the real and there, and a concept is... nebulous, is language, that distracting shade between being and reality. The body does not have the office of naming objects and creating concepts; no, that is strictly the domain of the mind (although, the author does not suggest a natural split in mind and body so rigorous as to preclude the idea of concepts having an effect on the body). The conceptual scientific method of knowing our origins claims the truth of the body can be deconstructed, numbered, graphed, and listed (here, the author writes with dubiousness).
Body is as body does, body is as body feels, body is and is not, and so the paradoxes and confusions continue. I leave what body is and is not to those who have the scholarly acumen or rigor to deal with it—and instead am concerned with what it means to be a body living.