Sunday, February 12, 2012
Saturday, February 04, 2012
Self-portrait in the fields at the edge of the earth, Nov 2011
This evening, I am so tired, and lately I feel constantly reminded that I have been under so much stress this year, that the fatigue still hasn’t quite seemed to lift. I feel irked, because sometimes my body does this, gets uselessly tired, but refuses to sleep at night and then begs for naps by mid-afternoon.
Such a strange body, sometimes. Often it’s my body’s inner workings that frustrate me – the heaving, knotted tangling of my guts when my digestive system malfunctions, the sudden, insidious stroke-like misfirings of my neurons that bring the pain, nausea and incoherence of migraines.
Other times it’s my appearance. The way I am too bony in places, too lumpy in others. A face too soft-featured, indelicate, and plain. Pale as a white whale, but with dry skin, freckle outbreaks, and incorrigible body hair.
Being annoyed with my body directly translates into a generally unpleasant emotional state, just as less-than-stellar emotions bring pain felt in all manner of ways. Anxiety that I feel nearly constantly sometimes pervades every part of me – during a nearly year-long period of intense anxiety when I was younger, I ate hardly anything, because I felt such tension and blockage in my throat and windpipe I worried I was constantly about to choke.
But what I am trying to express here is that I don’t want to feel negative about any aspect of myself—because there is no such thing as dualism despite what Descartes says, don’t listen to him—and I am always trying to reconcile the way I’d like to think about my self and this body that I don’t just dwell IN, but exist AS. This is the only form I know, and I am grateful that I am living.
While running the other day, I was feeling my leg muscles creaking and searing in the damp cold, and I remembered something my dad said to me this summer, one time while I waited for him to muster up the energy for me to help him walk upstairs. I was sitting on the floor, stretching a bit, and he observed, “You know, you sure have Ferguson legs, my legs”.
And I looked at them, the ones everyone in track called ‘turkey legs’, because they weren’t as skinny as the long-distance boys’ efficient chicken-legs, nor as long and shapely as those of the other girls. Thin little forelegs under massive thighs, with patchy hair and an uneven tan.
But now I focused not only on the taut curve of the quad and slimmer slope of the calf, but tried to really feel them as I stand up, each joint and sinew unfolding, blood rushing through the hidden webwork. They are so strong, and they carry me well. “Yes, they’re good ones”, I say to my dad, and I help him up to bed.
I think of his legs, then, swathed in his grey sweatpants that seemed to become more and more voluminous. In the hospital, I massaged his pale, swollen feet and calves that could never stay warm, the limp ghosts of legs that cycled and walked daily not so long before, that once led me high up into the mountains and later followed me along those same trails.
And when I was running, North Sea sand under my feet, straining in the wind, I felt something of my father in my legs, a current running from the depth of the muscle and springing into the earth. And there was pain and there was lightness, there was an energy that comes from the remembrance of power, and I felt I was honouring him.
I need to be good to myself, my body, and see every part as a gift, be grateful for it. All of the aches and discomfort within it, the strange outer aesthetics and my ambivalent feelings about them.
I have his skin, his colouring, and it is on his legs I run. I am physical pieces of my father left on earth.