Celebrating My Sleeve
My husband and I have recently watched a sci-fi series on Netflix called “Altered Carbon”. We started watching because it featured (for all of 1.5 seconds!) a new bike made in Mielec, and we are ok with trying new genres.
The concept is based around the fact that people could continue living, beyond a “body death” by exchanging their “sleeve” or body and inserting their “stack” (memories, intelligence, soul) into the new sleeve.
Don’t worry, there won’t be a test on this terminology and that is all I am going to say about the series.
But this concept of our bodies being interchangeable sleeves we could wear like clothes, simply to house our spirit, minds, memories etc. was fascinating and resonated with me.
I have always had an unusual (though I didn’t realise it was) relationship with my body.
As a child, I delighted in what it could do as I climbed trees with abandon, ran fast, jumped far and pirouetted with precision. It seemed to be a perfectly adequate vessel to transport my insatiable curiosity from place to place and I enjoyed the sensations of the sun on my skin, wind in my hair and my favourite: briefly flying through the air before diving into cool water on a hot day.
I was aware of comparisons of shape and size, ability and beauty, but I lived inside my own head and imagination so much that I wasn’t overly affected by it. (Looking back I realise what an incredible gift and privilege it is to say that!)
In short, I was very comfortable in my skin and grateful for what I could do because of it.
This relationship hasn’t really altered significantly as the decades have rolled on by. I have marvelled at my body’s ability to grow human beings, feed and sustain them and expand and shrink in the process.
I’ve found my children’s comments about squishy and stretchy bits funny and have accepted the wrinkles and lines as evidence of the inevitable march of time.
In short, I am still very comfortable in my skin and grateful for how this body functions, moves and transports my personality, weird thoughts and sense of humour through space and time.
It has never seemed to be of more importance than any other part of who I am. And I have treated it accordingly, not devoting more time to the feeding, clothing, body care part of my day than the reading, thinking and re-energising social contact parts of my day.
But, recently I have wondered whether I have missed something. In this casual relationship, with its underlying gratitude and marvel, have I forgotten an element of celebration? Have I taken for granted something extraordinary?
Around the time I started pondering these things, I received an invitation to a “Beauty Day”, which included professional make up, hair styling and a photo shoot. It seemed so frivolous to spend money on something I don’t place huge emphasis on, but a small voice inside me got really loud and insistent.
This body wanted a party. A thanksgiving. A chance to shine.
And though the thought of being the sole focus of two people’s attention, in an environment as alien to me as a moonscape, didn’t thrill me, I didn’t want to ignore this voice inside. (And my husband has a birthday soon and a lovely photograph for his office seemed like a great idea!)
What an extraordinary experience it was!
The make up artist was sensitive to my requests, whilst still showing me new ways of wearing colours and shades. And the photographer is a genius at capturing light, personality and fun in her photographs.
I laughed and played through two and a half hours and enjoyed the opportunity to acknowledge that “underplaying” my physical presence, though not a response to a desire to hide, also hinders the fully being present…all of me taking my place.
I hope that sharing this experience with you, touches a place inside that can resonate and that there will be much celebration of every part of ourselves in the weeks to come.
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