The Soft Animal of This Body.
“Let the soft animal of your body love what it loves.” ~ Mary Oliver
The soft animal of my body holds the exhaustion of spilling open, and there are moments I wonder if she will allow me to continue doing so.
Delicate in her curves, the wobble of her belly, the shake of her thighs, the thundering in her chest and a quick gaze out the window to catch a sunny-rainfall storm, (once again, nature in all her wisdom shows me in a real way how to hold both ends of the spectrum).
And I, a stranger for so much of the past few weeks in this bag of skin and bones that does so much — breathes, mourns, fills with joy, feels — am a little more at home in her again.
I’ve been repeating this mantra to myself as I move lately, whether on the confines of my mat or through the world, off the mat, and it is this: I am not this body, I am not this body, as if the words, said enough times, could turn into a prayer that might change my shape and my flutter; or maybe even make my body disappear so that only a floating, beating, heart remained.
As if — as if, for brief moments I could forget the existence of this shape that confines me and my thoughts, forgetting in my desperation what a privilege it is to have the ability in my body to do what she does.
(She can move and she can breathe.)
And she can do this as often as I ask her too, but only if I speak kindly and whisper sweet nothings in her ear.
This works, sometimes; more often than not I get stuck in the map of lines deeply etched into her thighs, her breasts, the backs of her legs; I obsess over the tiniest details (which in my mind are mountains) and I hide my shame in feeling that when I smile, my face falls apart.
The soft animal of this body that has the ability to take me places; she moves and breathes, and I can’t remove her from me without removing me — so I am not this body, but I am.
What I am not is the fucked up stories that my mind creates (and society and media support) about how my im(perfect)ions need to be perfected or fixed somehow.
From too young an age, I have fought a war with this shape of mine because she never fit into the norm or what was celebrated, and although I’ve laid down my sword in surrender many a time, the war rages on until I can feel the purr in my chest and the soft animal of this body pulls me back into her embrace.