I recently had a birthday, another year older, another curly silver-grey hair sprouting from my temple.
I have been thinking a lot about my body and my relationship to my body as I age.
The only guarantee in life is that I will continue to get older, until that is I pass from this life and who can say what will happen then.
Although I do like to recall the lines from Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass, Song of Myself:
They are alive and well somewhere,
The smallest sprout shows there is really no death,
And if ever there was it led forward life, and does not wait at the
end to arrest it,
And ceas’d the moment life appear’d.
I like to think that I shall return as a blade of grass or the laugh of a child.
I am here.
Still of this Earth and instead of despairing my body, which seems to be declining into a certain kind of age, I wish to celebrate it.
I wish to embrace my body, the skin that has started to sink around the knees and make a funny frown there.
I wish to see the curly silver sprout of hair springing from my head–although, yes, the first time I saw the dread intruders I did pluck them out.
No longer though, the salt in my pepper hair seems to be proper, alert, a flag gently waiving to the shore of wisdom.
I have perhaps not aged enough to be called “wise,” but I can see that shore, it is not as distant as before.
I also want to hold my belly in warm regard.
This soft creature that is my center–strong and soft–which is how I wish to be, strong for you, strong for me, but also tender, vulnerable, open to connection.
It is also the place of deep intuition.
How often have I known I need to “trust my gut” in this situation, go with my instinct, feel that space and know that when it is perturbed there is a message being sent to the rest of my being.
Tread lightly, be cautious, be honest, integrity stems from my stomach.
And what a beautiful belly too.
For it holds that organ that processes all my food and feeds the rest of me, the brain that gets flush with deep thoughts, the mouth that wishes to talk, the heart that beats with or without me paying attention to it.
Let me embrace that part of my body and have appreciation for it rather than contempt.
I have too long-lived in contempt of my body.
Perhaps it is my age.
I am 46.
That is neither old nor young.
It is a resting place in between.
I cannot go back.
I cannot go but forward.
Which means that I must appreciate and love this body for the 46 years it has carried me, me, my mind, my soul, my psyche, my heart, through this world.
For without it I would not be here, typing away at my keyboard writing this.
An aside–how brilliant are fingers?
How nimble they dance across the QWERTY board. How soothing they can be, a soft hand brushing hair off the forehead, a pat on the back, a warm squeeze between two friends, these appendages which pick apples, make coffee, wash dishes, write notes, light candles. I am so grateful for my hands!
Do not start me on my feet and all the places they have allowed me to travel.
I used to bemoan my feet.
They are too big.
They are too flat.
I wished for something else.
I was young.
Now, again, I am perhaps not “old” but I am certainly more mature and with that maturity comes an appreciation of my feet for they have carried me over thresholds, walked me to school, ran through wet grass in July in a thunderstorm.
My feet get me to and fro and they certainly do not ask for much.
They do, of recent years, seem to get colder faster, so it seems they do ask to be kept warm and dry.
I am happy to provide them with cozy socks.
How grateful I am to have my limbs, all attached, accounted for, clothed?!
When I tell myself that my body isn’t enough, strong enough, fast enough, thin enough, I am disparaging this beautiful piece of art that was created just to carry me around in.
I am thankful every night for this beautiful body and deep in appreciation for what it does.
For what it still gets to do!
I urge you.
Love up your body, give it some props, respect the journey it has taken you on.
Our bodies are miraculous.
Your body is.
My body is.
Grey hair, wrinkles, tender knees and all.
Every line an etching of laughter from a smile well smiled.
Every bit of me sings with gratitude for this body.
Even when it does not want to get out of bed in the morning.
Most assuredly then.
I believe in the flesh and the appetites,
Seeing, hearing, feeling, are miracles, and each part and tag of me
is a miracle.
-Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass, Song of Myself