Relating The Naked Truth

Relating The Naked Truth

Thinking about it, there is so little I tell people about my body. There are the obvious things — some unexplained problem for a year or so with my right shoulder that has made it difficult for me to lift things or hug with any strength (and my resentment that I can’t afford an MRI — hurry up, Obamacare), the bliss I experience after acupuncture.

There are more private things — my struggle with weight, for instance — that I share with a few intimates. But there are many absolutely personal things that go on inside and on the surface of my body that I never reveal. That must be true for everyone.

How thickly shame is woven into our relationship with our flesh. What we don’t talk about that we all do in our bathrooms and bedrooms. But writing, done right, can companion the reader. (It can also do a terrific job of making the reader uncomfortable, an equally valuable act.)

If a piece of writing is meant to pull you close, help you experience your connections with others, writing about the behind-closed-doors life of the body can achieve that aim powerfully. Such writing eases the burden of the reader’s secrets.

Writing in a detailed way about personal physical life that doesn’t involve shame can also offer the reader a profound sense of shared experience. Simply writing physical details that aren’t ordinarily addressed is a powerful act. We live in bodies. We clothe our bodies and present them covered. Isn’t it a gift when someone speaks about his or her body truthfully, nakedly?

Free Weekly reader Tauno Biltsted of New York City took on the challenge of illuminating physical experience in this piece, which he wrote in response to the following prompt: Write about instability.

By Tauno Biltsted

I recently had a realization about watching movies — particularly the slow-moving kind that are perhaps contemplative with a meandering narrative. I find all kinds of sudden moments of beauty and inspiration in films that have a digressive and wandering style, full of veiled and doubled meanings, striking images and enigmatic character — but nonetheless the mere pacing of things sometimes puts me into a somnolent state: eyes hooded and droopy, feeling a deep pull into the fibers of the seat, however uncomfortable; I feel the shutting of my inner eyelid, which I think of as kind of a mental state that is like the inner eyelid of a cat, a mucousy film that kind of slides over the mind’s eye, not opaque but translucent and foggy and vision-obscuring.

I usually choose to fight that state, engaging in a silent combat that endures the length of the movie, leaving me at the end of the affair woozy, exhausted from my struggles with myself, confused as to the narrative of the movie, recalling the whole thing through the foggy lens of my cat’s eye, bled out around the edges, a jumble of images set to a tinny and distorted soundtrack.

I am a fan of the art movie, but not a movie snob. I was weaned on Hollywood fare and continue to return to it, although I can’t abide by a horror film, the blood and guts are too disturbing and I am easily chilled — my earliest memory of the movies was cowering under the seat as the Queen in “Snow White” transformed into the Witch — and I have no fondness for a romantic comedy either, they aren’t funny and none of the relationships have any truth to them.

Lately I have been making efforts towards receiving my self with a greater sense of acceptance, working to try to maintain a sense of my interior impulses, and respond to them, so when I recently went to take in a movie at the Film Forum — jammed into the tight seat, legs spread awkwardly and constantly readjusting myself throughout the movie to compensate for sliding into the seat in front of me — I felt that pull into sleep in the first few minutes of the film — the Thai peasant chasing the slick water buffalo to the light of the moon — and I let myself go, letting my lids slide past half mast and my head nod forward.  It wasn’t long, less than two minutes I would say, but I awoke refreshed and awake to the story until I walked out of the theater and felt that special buzz of the night air.

Writing Challenge

Describe a physical sensation only you know you experience.

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