Saturday, November 7, 2015

Skin deep

Some years ago, when I was reading a novel by Joanna Trollope, one character's internal thought was that another character--a middle-aged, pudgy man, if I recall--seemed "comfortable in his own skin," I don't know if that's the first time I came across that idiom, but I remember it made an impression on me.

Not idiomatically, but literally, I am not comfortable in my own skin. My skin is dry and irritable. I'm itchy a lot. I scratch a lot, and consequently my skin is rough and broken. The solution would be to put lotion on every day. I've known that since my mom used to suggest it to me as far back as grade school. I've rarely been consistent in doing so. The degree to which my skin itches, burns, prickles, and the rest varies with locale, climate, weather, my clothing fabric, and, no doubt, my emotional state.

This evening my calves and ankles were so irritated that I finally did go put on Eucerin Skin Calming Lotion on them, and it is, indeed, calming my skin. It occurred to me while I was washing my hands (I don't like the way lotion makes the palms feel oily) that I should make 2016 the year of my body. I read all the time, and I write sometimes, so I use my brain and keep it active and healthy, but I neglect my body. I sometimes try in a haphazard way to eat healthy, but I lapse and frequently abandon such attempts for longer periods than I maintain them. I exercise rarely. I don't even style my hair very often. I thought I should take time away from reading and devote it to my body for one year and get it healthy, then maybe I would just have to maintain and it would take less effort.

The question is, could I follow through? I don't just enjoy reading, it's simply what I do. It could be like an addiction, but it's almost more like food, water, and air. I read while I eat. I read while food is in the microwave. I read when I sit down or lie down. I read while I'm on the toilet (I know, I know, TMI). I read (by listening to audible books) while I knit or do needlepoint. I read if I have to wait in a waiting room for any reason. I bought a Kindle so that I could always have something to read. If I finish one book, I download another. I read articles and blogs on the internet. Could I wrench my brain away from reading to spend time on putting lotion on, curling my hair, taking longer walks or using a treadmill, and preparing nutritious food?

Could I keep up enough interest in my body to take care of it? I feel sorry for my body. It does its best for me and gets no reward and little care. I know that the body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, and really the church building and grounds are falling into disrepair. I need to make a project of repairing and refurbishing my body. Knowing myself, it seems more than likely I will fail to carry out this project, but I will at least consider the possibility of starting it. After all, I have almost finished a knitting project. I still can't tell about it, but it is almost accomplished. I've done it like the tortoise, slow and steady. Sometimes not even steady, just slow, but now I'm approaching the finish line.

A year, now. I have limited years left. Maybe if I took a year for my body, I'd have more years. But that's no guarantee. You never know when some lunkhead will rear-end you on the Hannegan. But it wouldn't be a waste anyway, although it would be a strain. We are created to be incarnate beings, that's how God made us and that's how he wants us to be. To live in one's body as well as one's head is to live as one was designed to live. I will try to take time to appreciate, enjoy, and nurture my body.

When I started this post I was thinking about just my sensitive skin. I think it goes along with being a highly sensitive person. I've wondered if sensitive skin goes with a writer's temperament. John Updike suffered from psoriasis. Rachel Held Evans had severe eczema as a child, as did another writer I won't name because I really don't recommend his work. Sensitive skin is an outworking of inward sensitivity.

Physically, I am not comfortable in my own skin. I don't know if that means that metaphorically I also am not comfortable in my skin.

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