Saturday, December 12, 2009

Without turning completely somber

I read this in "The Stone Diaries" by Carol Shields and it kind of stuck to my insides.

"Suddenly her body is all that matters. How it's let her down. And how fundamentally lonely, it is to live inside a body year after year and carry it always in a forward direction, and how there is never any relief from the weight of it, even when sleeping, even when joined, briefly, to the body of another... An envelope of flesh, glassine. She lives now in the wide- open arena of pain, surrounded by row on row of spectators. The nights are endless, the morning sun a severity."

As a woman with a chronic disability, I have to face my physical limitations and the pain which stems from a genetic glitch in my body on a daily basis. Having to sit and watch as my conditions worsen as my life progresses further. The last time I saw him, my step grandfather said to me " I know you hurt so much and nobody cares." These words could sound so mean without the right eye. The largest hurdle the human race has ever had to face is that we are all confined in our own forms. Him and I are at a very similar place medically. The truth is that it's hard to constantly care about another person's pain, simply because it is not a presence for ourselves. This is why so many people are starving and dying of cured diseases. We cannot feel another person's physical experience. But we have found traits like empathy in ourselves to help bridge these gaps. I am one to believe in evolution and that we have adapted with particular features for specific reasons. There is a reason we strive to understand what other people are going through and I think it is to break free of our own physical experience to alleviate another's. Step Grandfather was trying to share how he felt about such a physical isolation and truthfully I found these words a odd source of inspiration.
Its not that nobody cares, it's that we are all grappling with this physical confinement. Though some are forced to recognize their constraints early and in a brutal way, perhaps all of us dream of our body dissolving in the air and that barrier being swept away by the wind.

Contemplative,
L

1 comment:

Erik Siegrist said...

It's funny. I totally understand what Shields is saying in that passage, and yet I can't relate to it. Even when my own "issue" is ripping my guts apart and sending me to the hospital I've never felt that it was defining my existence.

Might be because my mind has always trumped my body when it comes to defining my "self". Which is neither better nor worse, but I think it does insulate me a little from what I have to live with. And probably makes me a little more cavalier about it than I should be.

On the other hand, if I were to come down with Alzheimer's or something that made the betrayer my brain instead of my flesh... well, not gonna go there. But if I have a biggest fear, that would be it.