My body tells a story. Tales of failure and triumph. Of little moments, habits… of the cost of new life. It is, in the eloquent words of the inimitable Mrs Pullman, a map of where we have been.
There is a gaping hole on my right toe where an intact nail used to reside. A frustrated connection with a toy motorbike when life felt overwhelming last week left some casualties – part of the nail… and the whole of my pride. I glance down now and see brokenness, expectations that went unfulfilled, hopes that were unrealised when I reached to impossible heights to make Dave’s birthday dinner ‘perfect’. I’m not even really sure what that meant in my mind, other than that I wanted to be able to focus on cooking for more than two minutes at a time without being called over as a referee/doctor/mediator.
There is intricate pattern of bruises on my hip. The power of a careening whirlwind, impervious to obstacles, barriers, table corners. I wince as I ponder over where each one was imprinted, what I judged to be so important and urgent that I couldn’t slow my steps, halt my pace for just a moment.
I see the loosened skin on my abdomen – a papery reminder of being stretched, expanding, making way for the explosion of new life. I marvel at the miracle of mechanisms, the beings that exhibit such independence and will, that somehow came from, were once a part of… me.
The mark of generations lingers. Ivy wriggles her toes absently. It is the exact series of movements her father displays. Encoded into his genetics by repetitive power, it lives on in perplexing form. I ball my fists gently, rubbing my thumb over fingers continuously. I am reminded of Deda’s hands, always working away – clenching, unclenching.
Echoes resound. Showing up in our children. Habits we wish to forget, the inability to find satisfaction in small doses.
Our bodies aren’t perfect. Perfection misleads. It smooths over the depths, erases the stories, belies the struggles that make us who we are. If you are anything like me, the promise of perfection merely leads me to frustration, to failing to see the wealth that is desperate to bedazzle.
If I would only just look.
So let the mirror tell its story. Smile wryly at the wrinkles, listen to your tired muscles plead for you to slow down. This season can be manic and crazy, but we don’t have to be subsumed in the vortex of unreachable expectations.
Breathe in. Breathe out. Just be.