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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.
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 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.