The space between us

Other people’s words about … physicality

Do you ever think about your body?
The space you inhabit in the world?
For me, this quote says it all:

From the time she was in her teens, Sera has been fascinated by this paradox — how a body that we occupy, that we have worn like a coat from the moment of our birth — from before birth, even — is still a stranger to us. After all, almost everything we do in our lives is for the well-being of the body: we bathe daily, polish our teeth, feed and clothe it; we go to great lengths to protect it from pain and violence and harm. And yet the body remains a mystery, a book that we have never read. Sera plays with this irony, toys with it as if it were a puzzle: How, despite our lifelong preoccupation with our bodies, we have never met face-to-face with our kidneys, how we wouldn’t recognize our own liver in a row of livers, how we have never seen our own heart or brain. We know more about the depths of the ocean, are more acquainted with the far corners of outer space than with our own organs and muscles and bones. So perhaps there are no phantom pains after all; perhaps all pain is real; perhaps each long-ago blow lives on into eternity in some different permutation and shape; perhaps the body is this hypersensitive, revengeful entity, a ledger book, a warehouse of remembered slights and cruelties.
But if this is true, surely the body also remembers each kindness, each kiss, each act of compassion? Surely this is our salvation , our only hope — that joy and love are also woven into the fabric of the body, into each sinewy muscle, into the core of each pulsating cell?

from The space between us
by Thrity Umgar

3 thoughts on “The space between us

  1. I read this book and thought it was very good. It made a great discussion for our book group. The son was such a creep! It really illustrated class differences and the disconnect it perpetuates.
    You picked an interesting passage!

    1. It was a good book, wasn’t it? There were so many passages I could have picked, on very different topics, but I did particularly like that one, as I am always fascinated by our relationship with our bodies. You’ll see on Thursday that I’ve picked another passage from the same book on a different theme.

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