Bathtub Epiphanies

“The dancer’s body is simply the luminous manifestation of the soul.

Dance is the movement of the universe concentrated in an individual.

You were once wild here. Don’t let them tame you.”

-Isadora Duncan (dance pioneer)

GIRL IN BATHTUB by Everett Shinn

So some people, I’ve heard, get their creative ideas in the shower.  My friend, Rob, for example got the idea for a whole ceremony during his morning shower routine.  I, being more of a ruminating kind of girl, tend to get a cascade of ideas when lying in a hot bath for a while.  Tonight I was in the bath and was looking at my body by the light of the candles and I had quite a startling realization: my body is with me for as long as I am here on the planet.  OK.  So you might think, “Jen, that is so obvious!”  But think about it….

Every second of the day, my body (and probably yours unless you need life support) performs millions of functions autonomically.  That means that you don’t even have to think about it or remind your body to do it.  And thank God cuz if I had to remember to breathe in order for it to happen, I’d have been dead a long time ago!  My body is constantly repairing itself, rebalancing itself, creating new cells, discarding old ones, fighting foreign objects on my behalf, and sending messages all over through nerve endings to other parts of my body so that all the systems are working together.  It is a miracle really that I live in my body every day and I rarely give gratitude for everything it does. My body is brutally honest with me; it is incapable of lying.  If I have overdone it, it lets me know.  If I have issues I am not dealing with, it lets me know through creating emotions (fear, anger, sadness, anxiety) to get my attention on these matters.  My body has its own language that I’ve been learning the past few years especially.  It “talks” to me and gives me hints about what I need to do to take care of myself.  If I am tired, it begs me to rest.  If I am thirsty, it creates a parched, dry mouth so I remember to drink.  If I am hungry, my stomach rumbles.  If I am stressed, it reminds me to breathe. It is truly the most marvelous instrument I possess.

my body can sing beautiful sound into the world

my body dances

my body can see the world

my body can touch the world

my body makes love

my body has the capacity to create another human life

my body has the ability to give birth to that life

my body gets me everywhere I need to go

my body can enfold those I love in an embrace

And yet when I do happen to think of my body consciously, I notice that am often berating it, wishing it was different, comparing it to those of others, and telling it to shut up and do what I tell it to do- especially when it is giving me warnings to take care of myself better.  The internal dialogue goes kinda like….

I am

too fat

too hairy

too short

too curvy

too lopsided

too loud

and the list goes on…

I don’t know about how you experience your own body or what kind of relationship you have with yours…

I, however, have been going through my life looking for my definition of a perfect relationship and all the while my body has been offering me one and waiting for me to pay attention and get into alignment with it.  It will never leave me.  It is always honest with me.  It puts up with my constant abuse and still loves me enough to tell me what is so.  In a way, it is not fair that it cannot escape my whims.  But maybe it doesn’t care.  And maybe it calls me to a higher level of responsibility in my life FOR my life and the preciousness of it.  Lovers, friends, and people I love will come and go all my life but the relationship that remains is the one with myself and my body until my last moment on Earth.  I think I found the true meaning for self-worth: the care for one’s life and so the care of one’s body- our only constant home during our walk here.

“Our bodies are the hotels for our spirits.”

-Tallisen  Age 9

And more food for thought from Bill Bryson’s A Short History of Nearly Everything

“…the fact that you have atoms and that they assemble in such a willing manner is only part of what got you here.  To be here now, alive in the twenty-first century and smart enough to know it, you also had to be the beneficiary of an extraordinary string of biological good fortune.  Survival on Earth is a surprisingly tricky business.  Of the billions and billions of species of living things that have existed since the dawn of time, most 99.99 per cent, it has been suggested – are no longer around.  Life on Earth, you see, is not only brief but dismayingly tenuous.  It is a curious feature of our existence that we come from a planet that is very good at promoting life but even better at extinguishing it.

Not only have you been lucky enough to be attached since time immemorial to a favoured evolutionary line, but you have also been extremely – make that miraculously – fortunate in your personal ancestry.  Consider the fact that for 3.8 billion years, a period of time older than the Earth’s mountains and rivers and oceans, every one of your forebears on both sides has been attractive enough to find a mate, healthy enough to reproduce, and sufficiently blessed by fate and circumstances to live long enough to do so.  Not one of your pertinent ancestors was squashed, devoured, drowned, starved, stuck fast, untimely wounded or otherwise deflected from its life’s quest of delivering a tiny charge of genetic material to the right partner at the right moment to perpetuate the only possible sequence of hereditary combinations that could result-eventually, astoundingly, and all too briefly- in you.”


7 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Debbie Dumaresq
    Sep 10, 2010 @ 22:31:08

    Loved this post, Jen. Thanks for some perspective. XO D


    • jenniferengracio
      Sep 10, 2010 @ 23:33:26

      I’m glad, Deb. You know, for years now since I started bellydancing, I have had the priviledge of dancing with many women and hearing their stories. I have seen their struggles with showing their bellies or letting them hang over their coin belts magnificently. It is a crazy culture that programs people to hate their bodies and then to spend a lot of time not moving them because they are not good enough, pretty enough… And the saddest part is that I and millions of other people around the planet play into it by believing them. So I turned 35 this year and I made a vow to myself to be good to my body and to heal my relationship with it once and for all so I can enjoy the next 65 years in it. I challenge you and every other person who reads this post to do the same and I wish you all a life of pleasurable experiences in that magnificent container.


  2. Flóra
    Sep 11, 2010 @ 05:57:42

    Thank you, thank you thank you!
    Love you Jen.


    • jenniferengracio
      Sep 11, 2010 @ 09:25:40

      Wow! Guess I struck a common theme with this one! So nice to hear your voice, Flora! I miss you. How is Hungary? I’d love to hear what resonated with you about the post if you care to share….



  3. Marielle
    Sep 11, 2010 @ 21:40:53

    Thoughtful and Beautiful post, Jen. I love that you added Tallisen’s quote – I remember when you told me about that….she really does have an incredible way of relating things.

    OK – off to read more!

    love and hugs,


    • jenniferengracio
      Sep 12, 2010 @ 14:39:53

      I remember that day in our classroom at Wondertree so well. Your kid has a way of putting things out of the blue like that that are so poignant. I LOVED having her in my class those two years and I learned a LOT from her. I remember another time when I was stressed cuz our classroom looked like a bomb hit it and she said to me really thoughtfully: “Jen, what’s more important- things or people?” It stopped me in my tracks and I thought about what it was that I was imparting to the kids by being so wrapped up in the way the room looked then the people in the space. So for anyone who says kids don’t get philosophy, well, I can attest that they are the ultimate philosophers! What a gift..



  4. Marielle
    Sep 13, 2010 @ 22:35:03

    Wow. Another great memory and question from the past. She has since asked that same question of me when decluttering our home. 🙂 Yes, Talli still offers many questions that stop me in the moment. You are such a blessing to children and adults alike, Jen. I am grateful for your blog. The writing expresses your soul and brings such joy to me as I read.

    See u soon!!!!


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