My Blessed Body
There have been many days, weeks, and years of my life where I have not been happy with my body. There were the months surrounding my jaw surgery in junior high where even talking was difficult, interwoven with those awkward teenage years where nothing felt right. I’d be lying now if I said that I was happy with everything about my body now, but I’m definitely much more appreciative of what a blessing it is to have a body like mine.
What’s so special about it? Well, everything works. Reading Oliver Sacks’ books makes me appreciate that fact. In the past couple of weeks I’ve worked my way through the classic The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat and Other Clinical Tales. It is wonderful to read Sacks’ admiration for some of his patients’ abilities in circumstances that would certainly discourage me. He poses a lot of questions about the relationship between soul and body and the essence of man underneath severe neurological issues. Though I’ve read his writing before, this go-around really touched me.
From all of his tales, Sacks’ story about Rebecca moved me the most. Rebecca was diagnosed with severe retardation and could not even do simple math. She couldn’t unlock a door, was uncoordinated, and was physically disfigured. Yet for all of this she felt deeply, expressed words poetically, and grasped the significance of symbol. She knew what she needed and even described her faults in metaphor. She, “broken” as she was, found a place in the world where she felt she had meaning and happiness, and so delighted audiences with her work in the theater.
Who am I to complain about not “achieving” certain standards of aesthetic beauty? So what if I wish my proportions were different or my skin a little clearer? Instead of tying myself to some subjective measure of what my body should be, I can take a cue from Rebecca, disregard my own continued awkwardness, and simply live in a way that transmits joy and appreciation for what I have graciously received.