What’s a four-month silence, between friends?
… I’ve been thinking a bit about bodies. I think this is going to be a bit of a wayward body of text (God loves a punner), writing as I think rather than with any plan, as usual, but since this is a largely secret blog, which I write primarily for myself, I shall hereby forgive myself in advance, as though there was ever anything to forgive.
I’ve been reading something mindblowing – the kind of thing that has you stopping to pause and recalibrate your world every two sentences – and one of the things I’ve been pondering is the body. The human body, is of course, always simultaneously a separation device and a means of connection, and this two-pronged potential for splitting oneself in half (we can’t serve both masters) means we have to make a choice, in most moments. In any given situation/setting/moment/mode, we can use the body either for love or for attack.
I suppose I should pause here and address the fact that I’m assuming we are more than just our bodies in the first place; in fact I personally would go so far as to say that we are not particularly our bodies. I went to a workshop a few months ago, at the beginning of which the leader confronted us with the classic line ‘We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience‘. This statement, to me, is a given, and I was ready to move on after 0.3 seconds, but the rest of the group could make absolutely no sense of it. Luckily, this is my blog and I’m happy to move on; I’m sorry if you’re not.
There is no other possibility, if you stop and think about it, than using our bodies as a means of either love or attack, but I had never quite heard this in such stark terms before, so stopped and thought about it. I got out a notebook and pen and wrote down a list of various everyday situations I find myself in during my life, from the mundane (walking down the street between the place I frequently parked my car and the café I go to), to the exotic (going on a blind date, or posing nude among the ruins of a local castle… all things I’ve done this week). I included things like ‘family dinners’, ‘greeting my neighbours when I bump into them’, ‘going to choir’, etc. etc., until I’d covered quite a lot of my regular living experiences. I then wrote next to them the extent to which I felt I used my body in that setting or situation for love or for attack; in more practical terms, I wrote the extent to which I felt my motivation as regarding the use of my body was pure. Another way of explaining it would be by reference to how prominent the ego is in each mode, the ego being something that by definition is pathologically wired to uphold separation. It was a very illuminating thing to do and I hope I remember to do it again at some point.
I can well imagine those who know anything about my modelling work would assume there’s a LOT of ego tied up in there; I am literally displaying (even – urgh – marketing!) my physical appearance, showing photos of myself on social media, making love to the camera (not really), etc. etc., and receiving constant compliments (which I learned years ago not to pay much attention to, my sanity being at stake, at the same time as genuinely appreciating them). However, on honest reflection I found that my motivation in the realm of modelling (e.g. whether I am using my body for love or for attack) to be quite pure. I do feel quite spiritual about modelling (a hilarious sentence, but true, so I’ll leave it), and not all that ego-driven; I see beauty in different ways and in different things to others, I sometimes think, and I’m certain that it is this foundation which has sustained me for a decade in this work.
My new-found love of the gym feels borne from curiosity and self-exploration rather than vanity, even though I joke that it’s all about wanting to sculpt my body; it is about that, certainly, but it’s also about experiment and self-direction, which is, ultimately, about freedom. Freedom is, in its truest state, always love.
Meanwhile, there can be a whole load of attack in something as simple as singing, or eating, or waiting, or viewing, or whatever else; the point is that our own motivations can be quite unpredictable, and well worth examining. Also, one ‘act’ or ‘scene’ of your life (like ‘sending a text message’) can, of course, be made up of multiple segments of motivation, so if you get really deep down and dirty with the analysis, that opens up more possibility for noticing the detail – and therefore clarity – of your direction.
I feel quite loose in my body. Sometimes this is inner, secret amusement, and sometimes it is buzzing, wavering, floating and lightness, ranging from accidental and alarming to joyful and magical.
When astral travellers make the decision to release the limitations of the body, temporarily, it is to connect more deeply with freedom, and discovery. Last night, in a normal dream (ha!), I was abandoned by friends and made two new ones, one of which was (I discovered later at a cocktail party) president Trump’s much-loved son, Billy. Billy was cool (albeit with a weird blonde combover), in his early twenties, and I liked him a lot. His father (who I physically recoiled from, at first) picked up Billy and I (plus a girl whose name I didn’t catch) and drove us in his fast sports car (Trump drives FAST, I can tell you, even in the rain, which looked like stars in the dark) from our Bangkok hostel to the vast plains of Africa (he made it in about an hour; told you he was fast!), where he got into a physical fight with a wry, sprightly, war-painted tribe leader he’d gone to negotiate with (prob for oil, or whatever); the fight was over as quickly as it started, and Trump cried (all that spinning around ten feet in the air), and then disappeared from the dream. As though watching a performance, we’d sat crossed-legged on the ground, Billy, the girl and I, among a huddle of other white people. Opposite us was an equal huddle of tribespeople, also sitting crossed-legged, now looking at us.
The tribe leader suggested we sort our problems (I didn’t know what they were) by throwing rocks at each other – it was deemed both a sensible way to conclude affairs, a chance to get things out of our system, and, I suspected, a test of our characters. The ‘rocks’ were actually a single rock – a bit like a talking stick, all eyes on whoever was holding the rock at the time. Potentially injuries galore, then, and the maneovring was to be done as though a ritual, and in complete silence. To start us off, he passed a rock the size of a football to someone sitting near him. I can’t remember which side this person was on, but he didn’t really know what to do with the rock – like the rest of us, he had no particular interest in smashing in anyone’s face – so he threw the rock at the ground in front of him, making a gentle thud and a ripple of amusement. A person opposite took their turn; they picked up the rock and threw it at the ground, avoiding hitting any of us. This strange dance-off with the rock continued for a while. Shyly at first, then with more level glimpses, we looked into each others’ eyes, while not quite throwing rocks at each other, giggling at the absurdity; at the idea of attack. There was a growing feeling of joy. I remember thinking we were all, though from hugely different backgrounds of course (we were somewhere vast, dark, dusty, expansively eternal-feeling, after all; it wasn’t at all like Oxford, not even like Bangkok, perhaps like Africa in reality, but I’ve never been with my body), so very alike (though their skin was darker, their hair was braided differently, they were wrinkled beautifully from the sun). I remember the brown, glad, laughing eyes of a young woman who I thought I’d like very much if we hung out. Anyway, the rock thing fell apart quickly; I supposed the negotiation was over before it had begun, or we remembered there was no negotiation to be made in the first place. All we could do is laugh. I think I also cried, and saw quite suddenly a friend in the face opposite, whose eyes were, like mine, creased and squeezing out laughing tears.
Sometimes I wear my body tightly and it is in these moments that I most want to find someone to press and examine and help me take it off. The body as a means of communicating love is only ever the body as a means of facing truth; it can get in the way, or drop away, but either way it is a way.