A few years ago, I picked up Jeanette Winterson’s book Written on the Body and fell in love like never before. I have three favorite novels, and this one is definitely one of them. This won’t be a book review, because I don’t believe in book reviews. I think you should always just read the book, love at first sight and all. There was a beautiful passage about illness and knowing your lover is being robbed of her body. We read the pages out loud, mesmerized by the words and the way the author described what was happening – the body attacking itself, Cancer, like MS, like so many diseases that invade, rape, and eventually annhilate. So here it is:
In the secret places of her thymus gland Louise is making too much of herself. Her faithful biology depends on regulation but the white T-cells have turned bandit. They don’t obey the rules. They are swarming into the bloodstream, overturning the quiet order of spleen and intestine. In the lymph nodes they are swelling with pride. It used to be their job to keep her body safe from enemies on the outside. They were her immunity, her certainty against infection. Now they are the enemies on the inside. The security forces have rebelled. Louise is the victim of a coup.
Will you let me crawl inside you, stand guard over you, trap them as they come at you? Why can’t I dam their blind tide that filthies your blood? Why are there no lock gates on the portal vein? The inside of your body is innocent, nothing has taught it fear. Your artery canals trust their cargo, they don’t check the shipments in the blood. You are full to overflowing but the keeper is asleep and there’s murder going on inside. Who comes here? Let me hold up my lantern. It’s only the blood; red cells carrying oxygen to the heart, thrombocytes making sure of proper clotting. The white cells, B and T types, just a few of them as always whistling as they go.
The faithful body has made a mistake. This is no time to stamp the passports and look at the sky. Coming up behind are hundreds of them. Hundreds too many, armed to the teeth for a job that doesn’t need doing. Not needed? With all that weaponry?
Here they come, hurtling through the bloodstream trying to pick a fight. There’s no-one to fight but you Louise. You’re the foreign body now.
I lost my hearing today – only for a few hours, luckily. And I sat thinking about what it must be like to live completely deaf. One adapts.
We are always so scared of deafness, blindness, paralysis, the deterioration of the body. But everything we are so afraid of is actually not as terrifying when it actually happens. When we lose someone we love, we think we’ll never get out of bed in the morning. When we lose one of our senses, we think we’ll never survive.
But this survival is a concept that needs a longer post. I need to think about survival, and what it means. I wish there was a course we could all sign up for: Survival 101. And once you pass the course, you’re set for life. Then again, we’re never really set for life. Perhaps that’s the miscalculation right there. It’s all random.
I probably should make friends with Randomness already. As an individual, I have always been so predictable, so consistent, and yet everything about my body, and how I react to it, is random and inconsistent.
And that’s all for now.
Some people remain more honest than others. They have a conscience, and they are more genuine than others. I know somebody who has a passion for life. And she is entirely devoted to her job, and not in an obsessive way, but in an admirable way. I watch her and I am constantly amazed by how she always goes that extra mile. And she claims she is always a student, always learning, always evolving. She never once claims to know how to do things, or that there is one right way of doing things, or that she knows more than you. There is a humbleness that she carries which is not immediately obvious. People like that are the type you can be yourself around, the type you can admire without feeling inferior, the type you can reach out to and still feel whole.
I admire this woman because life hasn’t beaten her down, and because passion has not died within her – she is always flirting with life. There is depth there that I don’t find in a lot of people. There is a strength that does not scream “I am.” There is an appreciation of life that is not sickeningly optimistic. It just is. In depth, there is simplicity. The equation does not require mastery, it does not call attention to itself, but rather it lays there, not expecting an answer, not desiring a formula. There is beauty in simplicity, in just being.
And that’s all for now.
I used to be your anchor. The reason there was so much beauty here was because we knew what it was like to dance with death.
We knew how to build a home, but it was no mansion. It barely had windows. There was a balcony, I would sip my coffee there every morning, and wait for you to come home. Morning jogs were your thing, never mine.
Remember when we laughed so hard when the bus took you away, and it poured all over my head?
Remember when we sold the refrigerator and you pushed it into the hallway, pretending to be so strong?
But this act of remembering I can’t trust. Just like I don’t trust that you ever existed. Memory is strange and sometimes memories don’t tell the truth.
Do you remember when you said “don’t you dare forget”?
But without my anchor I forget.
I forget to take the garbage out, I forget that the toothbrush needs replacement, and those are just the small things.
This band is all about raw emotion. The music is painful. The lyrics are heartbreaking. Cathartic. Listen to it before reading the rest of this short, almost meaningless post.
So he says “I’m sorry baby, you were the Sun and the Moon to me. I’ll never get over you, you’ll never get over me.”
There is a heaven right here. Why do we always want to leave heaven, always desiring death, always wanting to be exiled, kicked out into the world?
Sometimes I think that the world is in a constant state of a staged drama – everyone fulfilling their role, momentarily, and they ‘Exit Stage’ when it’s time. But who gets to decide? Sometimes we just have to improvise. I’m tired of following scripts. And I wish people would accept raw emotion. It doesn’t all have to be so staged.
So yes, “I’m sorry baby, you were the Sun and Moon to me” but what is a life without the Sun and the Moon? A failed script. A drama that is too dramatic for a genuine life.
Give me drama, yes, but give me Genuine feelings. Give me actors and actresses who fall in love and forget the script. Give me Rebels. Give me people who will resurrect the Sun and the Moon.
There is comfort in being a child that we lose as we grow older. Perhaps the Romantics were right. Childhood innocence is hard to retain and regain in adulthood. As we become adults, we don’t throw tantrums. We don’t scream or cry every time our needs aren’t met. We pretend to be fine. That’s what adults teach us to do. We learn to lie. We learn to act as though everything is okay. And we begin to develop an ego. The ego, the ego is a nuisance of its own.
Yes, children can be mean. And they can be bullies. But most adults are also bullies. They hurt each other and use multiple techniques, far more advanced than just shoving you around. They use words and know exactly where to hurt you. They assess your weakest spots and strike you when you’re at your most vulnerable. You open up, you let them in, and then after peeling away a layer of your skin, they know they can now scratch you.
So sometimes I think I’d rather stay a child. Somebody told me that there is magic in the human touch, a healing effect. Yet sometimes this magic is conditional and conflicted.
And maybe the child in me wants simplicity. I want magic to be pure magic, unharmed and untainted by logic. The logic that adults cling to, the logic that inhibits and represses, the logic that claims its superiority – the logic that slowly pushes us further apart, leaving gaps and rifts.