Electric Bodies

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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

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Forget Yourself

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Hey Gang!

So, I have been bogged down with taking notes on the textbook that I will be teaching to students this year. It was a terribly dull and arduous four days of taking in-depth notes but i feel as if I could teach speech to great white sharks in a volcano! (can you imagine?)

While doing this is beneficial, it is also quite dull and sucks the creativity out of me. So, I felt uninspired to write. I did take breaks in between to play my bass. I would play around on the strings as I thumped the E string, emitting a beautiful, warm thud that dissipated. I played strings erroneously.

Then, I moved into my old default: Pixies- “Where Is My Mind”. It was the first song that I learned to play and it has always been my go-to song whenever I need to think. My hands, knowing the song all too well, move on their own. They play the opening warm melody and in my head I can hear Kim’s high, angelic voice ooo-ing.

Then I started to remember a conversation that I had via text with one of my best friends. We started talking earlier in the day about perspective. I told him that I was feeling so much better because I was back at school. I felt like I had purpose again. A place. Something was new.

He told me what I had assumed for a long while. He felt alone and was feeling unambitious as well in his austere lifestyle in the military. I couldn’t blame him.

I kept playing as I thought about that conversation and it gave me this mental picture. I usually try to think of things as analogous and metaphorical as possible. It helps me visualize a problem or an event. I guess it is just the way that I am wired.

I saw this boat drifting in the darkness. Rain poured down and the ocean swelled as wave after wave crashed upon the darkened vessel. It bowed and tilted under the stress of the ocean as it went along aimlessly in the mercy of the environment. Then, ahead of the vessel was a beacon. Bright and warm as it beckoned the vessel back to shore.

For some reason, I just started playing notes on my bass and eventually came up with a song that I entitled “Beacon”. I sent the rough recording to him and he seemed to enjoy it. I hope it made his day a bit better. Maybe he even got a bit inspired to play a bit or pick up a pencil to draw again. Either way, I hope it helped.

This got me to think of the past year and the amazing cast of characters that have stepped in and fallen out of my life in that duration. I remember talking to people and when I spoke of feeling insufficient; so much less than, they would usually have the same response but in different terms:

You need a girl.

I suppose the idea was if I were to be with someone or “be with someone” that my situation would be solved. That everything would be fine.  I see this a lot in the people I have met. Love, or the semblance of, is some sort of cure all band-aid for us. Love is the answer, the drug that satiates some sort of unexplainable hunger. Love is that part of us that needs to be filled for us to be full. To be a whole person.

I wondered for a while, during my little break between note-taking, about that idea. Should I have done that? Should I have just been with someone and let that preoccupy me?

Would I be whole?

Then I answered my own question when I thought about what I had just asked myself, should I let it preoccupy me. Thus meaning that somehow Love, with a capital L, would be a distraction from whatever was the real problem.

I feel like I talk about a lot of things on my blog when relating to relationships but I hardly ever talk about love. Maybe platonic but not romantic. Even if you read Clocks, you still only read about that closeness that I admire and would enjoy. Love is different and more complex than synchronicity.

I have never been in Love. Sounds great but just never has happened. Optimistic it will happen but what I do know about the subject is that it is not a bandage. It is an added attribute, not the prosthetic limb to “complete” me.

No, I know what I was looking for now. There are some things greater than love. They overthrow its throne, in my belief. They are what can take the ship from sea and what has been my goal all along.

The power of self-respect and self-efficacy.

These are what complete us. They complete me. That moment when you look in the mirror and know who you are is brilliant. It’s a symphony that exudes such delightful notes. It slips seamlessly from chord to chord, note to note. It plays a song unique to you.

It’s your song, now just to listen!

Once you understand yourself. Respect yourself. You can be open to the world that is truly beautiful. Let fall to the wayside those who try to break down what you have built in yourself. If you lose yourself, it is only you who can find you.

Hear your song and then, when you gain the power of self-respect and self-efficacy; when you know yourself, you can finally know how beautiful this all can be. The complexity of Love and pondering its meaning as a standalone entity and not a bandage. The revelations of just how close you can get to another when you are you. You are able to be present and live without regret because, in the end, you are doing what you know is true to you. You are true to yourself.

You finally see, with unfiltered eyes, the beauty that is life.

-Chris

 

 

I found this quote today that inspired this blog from one of my all-time favorite authors and playwrights and I hope it helps you as much as it helps me.

Develop an interest in life as you see it; the people, things, literature, music- the world is so rich, simply throbbing with rich treasure, beautiful souls and interesting people. Forget Yourself.

– Henry Miller