Good morning this morning — how is your heart today? How are your lungs? How is that good belly? This morning I have the green-and-mint tea, I have the quiet, sleeping puppy, the low candle, the songs resonating a heavy thrum in my chest. This morning I’m thinking about the ways we write our bodies, and the ways we don’t — the stories we tell repeatedly, and the stories that live underneath those, quiet, longing, hidden.
What are the body stories you’re telling yourself this morning? What are the stories still waiting to be told?
Our two online writing groups — Write Whole and Reclaiming Our Erotic Story — got officially underway yesterday. Over the next six weeks, I’ll be writing with twelve folks from around the country (I think we’re not international this time around; I’ll have to confirm that!), sharing over the digital airwaves the stories that our bodies hold — the delicious stories and the difficult stories.
There are some body stories I’d like to share this morning, but those I’ll scribble into the notebook, I think.
There are the private stories, the ones we just tell ourselves. There are the stories we whisper into the ears of lovers. There are the body stories we are willing to describe to our friends, the stories our parents know, the stories we built with our siblings — there are the body stories inscribed on the landscape around wherever we spent our earliest years. All these stories live in our skin and bones and also are conversations among blood and bone and time and place: when we return to those places, the old stories sing in us. Or keen. Or wail. Or laugh. Or all of the above.
The truth is that we are always an interweave of our delicious and difficult body stories — the stories that animate our limbs, the stories that weigh us, that give us heft and history, the stories that rupture, fray and enumerate.
Our public stories — the ones we share at parties, at podia, on applications and resumes and CVs and at job interviews, the stories we tell first when we meet new friends, new lovers — those are only the top layer of us, aren’t they? These are body stories, too, though: our work and schooling, our efforts, our labor or lack thereof; how we have spent what time we’ve been given, to what we turn our attention.
In our writing practice and writing groups, I like to invite us to go underneath those first stories, the commonly-told ones, the stories that have taken on a sheen and burnish from having been brought out and polished so very often. Our American narrative (is this true in other parts of the Western world as well? And elsewhere?) teaches us that we are to be a single trajectory, a single story, a build from small to large, a growing and garnering, a forever-repudiating what came before in favor of the one true story that we are (over and over) finally able to tell. But all of our body stories are true stories — even the ones that don’t resonate or feed us anymore. I want to know what stories we have in our bodies that contradict our primary narrative — those are often the stories that we are scared to tell, because we are afraid they will bifurcate us, will untether us from a particular knowing (or being known), will take us apart from our constancy and our certainty.
And of course, they will. Because we are already inconstant, undulant, mobile — in our beingness, in our existence, we are both whole and fragments. This is the beauty of our stories: they can reveal the full complexity that is our now, our yes, our “lovely, soupy existence” (as Anne Lamott puts it).
What happens when we release ourselves into the fullness of our body’s stories? What happens for our bodies? What happens for our hearts?
The book I’m working on now has to do with our body stories and how we learn to tell them, share them, even find language for them — I’ll be sharing some thoughts about this in this month’s newsletter, which goes out today.
What’s the body story that most wants writing today? Can you give ten minutes, get that story out on the page? Or maybe that story wants to write itself in a run, or a dance, or with paint, or singing loud and hard in the car — let some of it out today, ok? Let some of it out.
I’m grateful for every single story in that powerhouse body of yours. Thank you for your complicated truths today. Thank you for your words.