Sharp, white heat triggers a jagged, fizzling pain. I drop the flimsy spatula and scrape off the candied sugar pecan now stuck to my right thumb. The faucet’s frigid water does little to soothe the angry red blister bursting across my skin.
Well shit, this is where daydreaming gets me: sucking my raw thumb while gracelessly mixing candied pecans with my uncoordinated left hand.
There are an increasing number of moments, which slip into hours, in which I exist dominantly in my mind. It is as though my body is merely a vessel to carry my mind from one thought-provoking event to the next. My limbs have become disassociated from my thoughts as my sense of self slims, excluding all but cerebral impulses.
Sitting to type this blog doesn’t help.
In summer it’s easy to be physical. The warmth of a sun, hidden during the dark of winter, drenches Michigan, leaving it syrupy with light. This light illuminates my body; it’s as though I’ve forgotten that I have working legs and arms and a desire to use them. To see them stretch and flex and move beneath the thin armor that is my skin. My body takes the upper hand when scheduling my day. Walking, cycling, and running, like bees, swarm the waking hours of my day. At night I crumple into bed exhausted and exuberant because I feel stretched, I sense substance.
I am on family vacation and my days are spent as trolley between beach and house, carting sandy footed nephews and nieces between indoor and outdoor adventures. To them the world is exclusively physical. And it is simple. The pendulum has only two ways to swing, joy and despair. The joy of tickle fights and roasted marshmallows contrast dramatically with losing a toy and slicing a toe open on sharp shells. I’m jealous of them because their lives are yet un-muddled by theories or algorithms.
I am dating a man who is undeniably physical. Yet, he works in a cubicle. The fluorescent wasteland we call it. And it is a joke but it is also an example of despair. His muscles lax and languid beneath a polycarbonate desk and decaying pinboards. Nothing at work reminds him he is a physical creature. He sits and emails and he sits and drafts and he sits and calls and he sits. After work he runs for hours and each mile reminds him “you’re alive, you’re alive” and he holds onto that truth to survive tomorrow’s shift in the fluorescent wasteland.
I switch the gas stove off and tentatively tip the candied pecans over the bed of rice pilaf for dinner. The brittle smell of hardened sugar wafts through the cottage. Family members are lured to the kitchen by the aroma and we sit to eat. We feed our bodies and remember that they matter. I understand now that life is physical.
We exist in the tension of a spiritual imagination trekking about by ligaments and muscles which camp within this tent of skin.
We are not just a spirit; we are not just a body. We are that unnatural, supernatural, and perfectly natural marriage of body and spirit. Dwell in this union.
Rebekah (’12) teaches English as a second language at Grand Rapids Community College. She does not drink coffee nor purchase Apple products.