Electric Bodies

(Photo Source: Google Images)

Hey Gang!

A BRIEF THANK YOU: It has been a while! I have been insanely busy with all of my duties as a psuedoprofessor. In that time, I was freshly pressed again! Such an amazing honor and I want to say thank you to all of you that have been on this wild ride over the past year with me. You guys inspire me to be a better writer!

“I have perceived that to be with those I like is enough.

To stop in company with the rest at evening is enough,

To be surrounded by beautiful, curious, breathing, laughing flesh is enough,

To pass among them, or touch any one, or rest my arm ever so lightly ’round his or her neck for a moment– what is this, then?

I do not ask any more delight– I swim in it as in a sea.

There is something in staying close to men and women, looking on them, and in the contact and odor of them, that pleases the soul well;

All things pleas the soul–but these please the soul well.”

—-Walt Whitman, section 4, “I Sing The Body Electric”

This is an excerpt from one of the most amazing pieces of literature ever put to paper or stone. I read this a week or so ago and it stuck with me. It resonated with me in a way that is hard to communicate. Have you ever read something that made you have goosebumps?  That one thing that causes your arrector pili to contract. How can something like that happen? How can a piece of writing make me have a physical response?

This state of beauty intrigues me as it whispers truths.

In American culture, we talk about the “beautiful people”. Those who are seen as modern gods, really, because, to many, being “beautiful” is a key to a door that opens up and reveals a world that is only accessed by those with that key. No one else can enter; just look through the keyhole.

I can’t help but shake my head at that. In his poem, Walt describes so much inherent beauty in people. He talks about how we should be proud to have strong and able bodies but I also see something in this passage above that makes me think about “people.”

I wonder quite often what other people see in me. Is it me that they see or the actor? Make no mistake, the Bard was quite right. The world is a stage and we are but actors. So, when people look at you  and I, when they look at us, do they see the actor or the individual? Is this me or my representation?

I walk a certain way and talk a certain way in different situations. I act and only around a few am I truly myself. For better or worse. This stage upon which I stand is so vast and so many roles are present that it is hard to perceive an instance where I could meet someone who is not an actor. That beautiful moment when our masks fall during this great masquerade. This beautiful dance of life which we all learn steps to. We interpret our own moves and once in a while change partners; people whom we take our masks down for.

Sometimes I stop dancing and look around. I see so many masks. I took mine down recently and it is then that you can see the tragedy of what a mask is.

Being you behind you behind you behind you.

Your paradox.

Once in a while you are able to meet a person who has shed their mask and dances on their own. They too embrace a reality where your mask is no longer viable. No mystique hidden. She dances wildly and spins as the masked take a step back. She dances an unfamiliar and unique dance. haunting others while being haunted by that which made her take the mask down.

She spins.

She does a plie’.

She does a tandu.

She does a frappe’.

She spins to some sweet song sounding through a calliope that only she hears. People look at her in awe.

She is beautiful. She laughs in joy as her hair swirls. She is electric.

How can we not see this? That which Walt saw so long ago. It is not about the beautiful people; it is that people are beautiful. We need to see this as we look at those around us. That quote above. It sings to me some sweet lullaby. In his contention he says that being with people is enough. He is satisfied by being close to people. To bodies. They are works of art. We are works of art. The beauty of a woman’s gently sloping neck or of a man’s muscular arm. We see people who are aesthetically pleasing all around us.

These creatures all around us that evoke something primal. When you click with that person, their humor or their intelligence, anything; when you find that connection, it awakens something in you. This creature that is pieced in such a way as to make you have a physical reaction. You laugh, you look in awe, you wonder about them and their background. You seek more. People are beautiful drugs that stimulate the senses.

Just as our body reacts to the elements, how our hair raises when around static electricity, so, too, is how the body and mind connect and respond when we encounter these glowing creatures. These embodied phenomenons.

These electric bodies.

When in their presence, we are most aware of our masks and how they define us. These beautiful creatures dance around us, showing us what beauty truly is.

The acceptance of body and self. When masks are torn down and we are who we mean to be.

We dance a joyous, unique celebration.

We sing our bodies electric.

-Chris

A Life Less Ordinary Part II: Jazz and Chuck Berry’s Ding-a-Ling

PROLOGUE

Omission (n):

1.someone or something that has been left out or excluded.
I have decided to omit the time period between the events of part one and part to of these blogs. I feel that it is an important precursor to say that events transpired and that said events were terribly personal. I feel that those are my own. After this prologue, I shall jump into the moment when the dark skies cleared.
-Chris
###
I needed release. I decided that the only way to achieve this was to drive. I think that the mind and body are connected and at the time of the event my body and mind were out of sync. My mind never present where my body resided. I was thread stretched too thin. I was being compressed. I lost my identity to someone else. Someone I didn’t know. Someone older and more assertive but someone who wasn’t me. I felt like an actor. I felt like a poseur in my own body.
I drove my mother’s convertible out to my friend’s going away party, as he was leaving for Georgia. It was a fairly decent get together. I was feeling somewhat awkward because I knew no one but I played with my phone in the corner for a bit and had a beer or two. I eventually made small talk with a friend’s parents and we sat together the rest of the time. I was just trying to forget the events of the past few days and what was to come.
I had a typical “me” moment of freaking out. My friends niece was running in between tables that everyone was sitting around and she got about two feet from me and fell…hard. My friend’s mother said, “Aw, look what you did Chris…” She was joking, of course, but from others’ perspective it, in fact, did look like I tripped a 3-year-old. I slinked out of the room and went to the bathroom as people were giving me the evil eye. I can’t tell you how uncomfortable it was having all of those elderly and middle-aged eyes looking through you like you were a monster. I had three options: 1. run back in there and begin a long speech by starting with, “Ladies and Gentlemen, I implore you…” 2. Go back in and pretend nothing happened. 3. Run out to my car and drive away.
I chose option 2.
Afterwards, we had our goodbyes. It was sad seeing him go but at the same time I know we will keep in touch so I simply said, “Until next time.” I had gotten him a cigar and a box of oatmeal (that’s an inside joke for another time).  I got one for myself as well.
I left with a bit of sadness in my heart but I couldn’t bring myself to go back home. Home, that word now sounded like prison. I just needed to be outside. To be simple. To be alone for a bit. Alone from everyone and everything. Even my own thoughts.
There is this really beautiful stretch of road that only has a few houses on it. It is scenic. Rolling green hills and cornfields, soy bean fields and cow farms; it was all so simple. I decided to go down that rocky gravel road instead of heading home. I put the top down on the convertible and plugged my phone in to turn on Pandora. I had been obsessed with a song by Lil Green called “Why don’t you do right”.
So, I turned on some jazz and lit up my extremely large cigar. The wind blew around me as early 20th century jazz came through my speakers. I would take in a long draw while Louis Armstrong growled in front of his ensemble. Hollow horns and woodwinds came through my speakers out in the forgotten roads as the sun turned a warm honey-yellow.
I just lived in the moment. I had nothing on my mind but where the steering wheel would turn and when.
I take another long draw and listen to those old songs that popped and crackled in my ears. Wind blew off the corn fields, giving off their musty scent. I took in everything sensible. Aural, Oral and touch were preoccupied but everything else was sedate. My mind was at the mercy of my senses and I reveled in it.
Those old voices spoke to me from decades ago. I could feel the emotion conveyed by Billie Holiday, Doris Day and their contemporaries. I was back in a different time. I was in another place. For a few hours worth of driving, I was transported to a place where I was a tourist and it was beautiful.
My cigar began to wain, as did the sun’s light just as a song came on that I had never heard before. It was “My Ding-A-Ling” by Chuck Berry. It is one of the greatest songs I had ever heard for people as semi-immature and perverse-minded as me. I listened and hung on to every word that Chuck sang about how much he played with his ding-a-ling and I cracked up. It was a live performance, so he had the audience sing along with him and I obliged.
The song ended and as the sun nestled just over the horizon, making the sky turn pink, I slowed the car down a bit and took the cigar out of my mouth. I looked around and saw nothing but cornfields. I grabbed the steering wheel hard and screamed at the top of my lungs loud and hard. I took another deep breath and followed up with an even louder yell.
Finally, I screamed into the setting sun, “I AM ALIVE!”
I sat back down and drove on. The cigar made me feel a bit light headed as I drove back but, in the end, I found that life is complicated and sometimes you have to just step outside of yourself for a minute. You can scream into the night and not go gently.
It’s like a beat, life. It is never one thing or the other. It’s this and that. It’s everything and nothing but only when you will it to be so. Stand still and you live but are you alive?
Are you alive?
Yeah, life, plays by the rules you set.
Life; it’s a lot like jazz.
-Chris