Sunday, October 9, 2011

Die a Little Each Day

It took some effort for me to plod through all four of the 'Twilight' books, but I ended up being glad that I did. The last one was my favorite. I enjoyed Stephanie Meyer's descriptions of the vampires' diamond-hard bodies, and of the marble stone texture that their skin acquired once they had died to their former mortal selves.

I especially appreciated the special power that the main character, Bella, discovered in her new vampire identity - her unique ability to protect her loved ones within an invisible force field, a protective mantle. I thought the author was smart to give her cast of vampire characters different super hero powers, considering her target audience.

I have been trying to apply the same concepts to my own body, even if just figuratively, to have my own human weakness and vulnerability "die" as much as possible in exchange for a harder, stronger self.

I entertain this theory while jogging flat-footed in the Vibrams Five Finger gloves. I run gingerly on neighborhood sidewalks, trying to gently absorb the shock through my non-supportive shoes, focusing on the beating my calves are taking, and visualizing the transformation of rock hard strength that permeates to the rest of my body.

I try to overlap these fictional concepts with the more realistic idea of our bodies' cells completely regenerating every seven years. While jogging I focus on the idea of old cells dying and being carried away as newer, stronger cells replace and rebuild my organs, my bones, and my skin. Part of my motivation to exercise is to deliberately die to my weaker self.

I also try to apply these concepts to my emotional state. If I've been frustrated by a day at work, or if I am angry about old dysfunctional family issues (again), I use exercise as a time of healing, of "dying to my old self," and building a new self in its place, even if just at the cellular level.

That's such a Protestant Christian ideal, thanks to my upbringing. But as people are always saying, it's more on a spiritual level for me than a religious one.

It's the only way I know how to "let go" for now, to move beyond the past with baby steps at an amateur and elementary level. At this point in my life, I don't know if I will ever be able to let go of my grudges and anger before I die. I believe in forgiveness, but not in forgetting.

I'm better now than I was in decades past. I like myself better, now, and I am more at peace with myself. But I still want to put to death parts of my former self. I want to kill off the weakest and most pathetic parts of who I used to be. The challenge is in killing only the weak and bad aspects while still keeping the best of me alive, including childlike innocence and perhaps even naivete.

The good and bad are too intertwined though. The weakest facets of who I am are too intermingled with the few strong parts of me to be killed off separately, it seems. Fallible and vulnerable I remain, not invincible. Playing with these concepts only reinforces the truth of how very human I am.

For now, I will continue to attempt dying to my former self on a daily basis, even if it is a lifelong process. I will stay inside my plastic bubble and reinforce it from within, one layer at a time, perpetually strengthening my own protective mantle.

My bubble is not a coffin: it is a cocoon.


Cheryl said...

Mortality can be a bummer. I'd love to find the perfect balance of embracing my scars and weaknesses while striving to become stronger, but I'm not there yet. Maybe if I had some of those fancy shoes.... :-)

Peter Varvel said...

I keep thinking about that saying - the one that says scar tissue is the strongest tissue.

Those fancy shoes are fun! For some reason, I keep thinking that I'm wearing webbed duck feet or frog feet.