Sunday, July 26, 2009

Tough It Up

When I was a kid, I was reckless with my body. I threw it around, tumbled off or over things, scraped my skin, stayed up too long without sleep and fell down from exhaustion. It made me feel alive and exorcised some of the pent-up energy within me that always threatened to combust.
When I grew up, I became more conscious of the idea that I was supposed to 'look after myself'. Which really meant 'preserve my youth' or, rather, the youthful physical attributes others considered desirable. Bloodied scratches and scars were no longer trophies of risk or achievement but blemishes. They had to be covered up or 'treated'. Sport and exercise weren't about fun or endurance or exhilaration but whittling away fat deposits, toning the body.
Then there were the admonitions that I 'shouldn't wear myself out'. I was urged – by friends, by TV advertising, by magazine columnists – to sleep more, not because I needed it but because it would reduce 'visible signs of aging'.
We all have to work hard to achieve anything. And yet women are constantly told – and tell themselves – that they shouldn't. I'm happiest when going hell for leather. I feel strong and confident when I get up straight after a fall. I don't like being fussed over. I don't need time – physically or emotionally – to 'heal' or 'get myself together'.
I like pushing myself and what I achieve when I do gives me a sense of satisfaction and fulfillment that nothing else does. I've trained my body to urge itself on, even when my mind is telling me I'm weak, I should rest or worse, retreat,.
I don't want to live less just because I'm trying to preserve the vessel I live in.

10 comments:

Paul said...

Very perceptive, too many don't know they're in a vessel, they've been told they are the vessel. What a lie.

Paul Martin said...

I pushed myself, and have had 5-6 hours sleep each night most of my life, since my teens. Now I'm finding I have to get more sleep and exercise or risk getting Addison's disease. It catches up on you.

matt said...

don't stop, keep going, re-write life. like Paul said , you aint your body, enjoy !

Rob Reeves said...

I've been getting 4-6 hours of sleep per night for several years now. I've always painted at night and these days it's the only time I have the necessary solitude to work. You do what you're driven to do when you're driven to do it. Don't re-work yourself to preserve somebody else's idea of what you should be or look like. True beauty follows a life well-lived on your own terms.

MyHungryEye said...

Yes!Yes!Yes! Thanks for this written bit, as always...

ranjita chaney said...

i am so glad to read such a positive uplifting note regarding one's body and it to be treated as mere vessel to contain the best of the person.....:-) your works talk more casual and have a fun approach to what exactly you saying in your words...

am glad to come across your works. would be glad to be posted about your shows and participations

Best
Ranjita

Monique said...

a while ago you wrote this:

and then I met a man... He was strong, smart and steady and I fell in love with him harder than I thought was even possible. He loved me back and not because of who I was pretending to be but in spite of it. For the first time, I learned to trust someone enough to reveal everything about myself. To my surprise, nothing frightened him, not my manic work habits nor my moodiness nor my bouts of destructive self-loathing, certainly not my suppressed sexuality. He recognized early on that I needed to sate my curiosity about my own sexuality. He gave me the space to experiment – in everything. He’d lived enough that little surprised or shocked him. I asked him if he’d be with me, to still my nerves and who knows, maybe to keep me safe.

I don't know when - I altered it a bit.. but damn, it made a strong impression on me b/c I really want to find this sort of man myself. even though it's the opposite of what you spoke about there, I'm wondering if your work is what helps you deal with getting over someone? Is that where you find solace? Does it help "toughen you up" in that sort of situation too?

Elizabeth said...

I often hear "Oh you look so tired, you should get more sleep." I do push myself hard; working for oneself, creating self-imposed deadlines requires it.

Here in Asia a woman's looks are paramount, to a greater degree than in the west. Western women, with our larger pores and hollower eyes, age more quickly. It's strange to hear at my age the kind of comments that women ten years older hear in the west.

mondotrasho said...

Sign at the Sedlec Ossuary near Kutna Hora:
"The body is a vessel for the spirit."

elizabethdanon said...

Exactly how I feel and I'm only 26. I don't want to slow down just to "preserve" my looks.