Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Architecting Your Space As An Act Of Love

Love your body!   This post is, I hope, part of the 2011 Love Your Body Day Blog Carnival

Love your body.  For a moment, though, I want to disagree with the terms of the request/engagement.  To me, the question is not so much how can I love my particular body -- though, of course, I have work to do here -- but what can I do in the world such that I am not under the kinds of pressure that make calls to love my body so necessary.

In other words, I want to push back on the weighty work of always having to do self-care.  Self-love.  I do need to look down and love my physicality.  I do need to figure out a way to love my body.

I am angry though.  The call to love my body has awakened in me a deep slow anger.  I am so tired of the work that we have to do to love our bodies and ourselves.  It is necessary work; it is unending work.  But today, I question why we have to do it.  Why is it that I/we have to do the work?  And do we have to do it alone?

I don't want to write another post about loving the difference that is my body.  I don't want to write another post about disability as physical variation and as such a neutral part of humanity.  I don't want to write another post about the joys of impairment and the pleasures of disabled physicality, sexuality and life.  Granted, there aren't yet enough of these posts.  Please.  Write and read them wherever you can.  Today, however, I cannot put these words on my screen.  I am exhausted by this kind of project of self work.

We.  Are.  Here.  Still.  Again.  Trying to figure out how to love our bodies.  How to resist what the world does to us.  How can we love ourselves?  So this time, I want to think differently about how we love.

Public culture and public space are often so difficult for people with disabilities.  On some days, just leaving the house can expose us to hostile stares, stupid comments, inaccessible architecture, inaccessible public transport.... I don't have to go on.  On days like these, it can seem that self love is in tension with the world.  You can do the work at home, with your friends, by yourself.  You can look deep into yourself and gently draw out the threads of your personhood.  You can softly tie them, weave them, knit them.  You can tangle up your of strands humanity into a compassionate, open loving human being.  You can do the work.  You have to.  I have to.  We have to.

And that might be the most important part of loving your body.  We have to.  We.  I/We/You have to find, create engage community.  Perhaps that's just one person, perhaps it's even ten.  No matter what the number, I'm beginning to think that love is not a lonely act.  It is to be shared.  In public and private.  Perhaps your community are your friends.  Perhaps not.  But loving your body is learned, nurtured, and developed in the trust and love of community.

If you go out on the street, go in community.  And that doesn't mean you have to go with someone in person.  You can go with the sense of your community radiating from your mind.  Lean into the wind with your community behind, beside and ahead of you.  From there, shape the space.  Your space.   You probably can't change the accessibility of the world; you alone might be able to change an individual's mind, but there are a hell of a lot of individuals out there.  It's a daunting job.  Trying to do that leads to burnout.

You in community can create a little bubble of open, loving and loved safety.  You won't have to figure out how to love your body alone.  You will.  You are loved.


  1. Great post - the phrase that resonated with me was
    "How to resist what the world does to us." and a sense of community and solidarity is one way to resist... But what about releasing judgments from our lives? The right and wrong, the good and bad, the beautiful and the grotesque - all these extremes are applied by judgments. How arrogant it is for one to assume they know what is "best" for another in any capacity!

  2. "You can look deep into yourself and gently draw out the threads of your personhood. You can softly tie them, weave them, knit them. You can tangle up your of strands humanity into a compassionate, open loving human being. You can do the work. You have to. I have to. We have to."

    Yes. So beautifully put.

  3. Anonymous7:08 PM

    Thank you. I have just been thinking about community and allies. Sherman Alexie was turning Whitman "Song of myself" into what the Indian version would be--"Song of Ourself" and I felt a little inner shift that felt exciting"--of course, it would be many songs : )
    And I was reading a great chapter in a Barbara Sher book about connecting with allies--real and imagined. who do you want on your team--what would it be like to carry these people with me, in a sense, more consciously, at times. Why do I pick these people?
    And then today on the radio Teri Gross is interviewing poet Marie Howe who is talking about her friends who have died who she asks for advice at critical times, when making decision. I think she said they always say the same thing--something like, "Will it bring you joy? More life? Less worry?"
    Thank you for broadening the topic into community and into relation with others. (And for adding to the dialogue in and out of my head!)