LOVING YOUR BODY


I’m back in our aerie after ten days with my mother in the city of Chandigarh in weather that was so humid that my poor little red Samsung net book almost died and had to be taken to computer emergency hospital twice. My computer is my security blanket and I agonize without it. It always takes me a day, if not more, on my return to recover from my long journey up here, anywhere from eight to ten hours on bad roads, rattling away in my scorpio. It gets harder as I age. Speaking about aging –

I had the privilege of seeing my almost 92 year old mother walking with her stick, with the help of her maid, to the bathroom to get her daily bath. She was stark naked and I have to admit I was riveted to the image of her aging body — I cannot quite describe it, or my feelings, though I shall try. Her bottom has almost disappeared into her back, her legs are bowed, her body stooped and sagging. She looked like a creature from another planet, sort of a mixture of ET and Smeeve, you know, the guy from Lord of the Rings, or is it another movie? It is the sort of image we shield ourselves from, from which the culture shields us all our lives by projecting the body as the beautiful image we see on the screen, the image with which we compare our own bodies and despair. We are so brainwashed by this image that we mistake it for a precondition to love and loving. This is mistaking a shadow for the thing, the virtual for the real. The mistake would not be worth mentioning except that it can hack away at the root of our happiness and cost us love. A huge cost, actually, a loss of the most precious thing in life. We look at our own bodies and they do not measure up, and we think, we are not lovable. The first casualty of this mistake is our love for ourselves, the precondition, the very root of giving and getting love. 

It has taken me many years, a whole lifetime so far, in fact, to learn to love my body: its height, color, shape, features, lumps, bumps, pouches, paunches, spots, imperfections. I adore it now. In fact, it is my idol. It is what makes my existence and consciousness possible. Through all its metamorphosis from infancy to now, and many more to come, if I am lucky enough to get to really old age, like my mother, it has kept ‘me’ going. How wonderful is the ‘I’ of this body! What a miracle this lump of clay is, how sentient, how alive, how entirely worship worthy! The journey to love begins here. 

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