That physical self

For most of my life, I viewed the body as a vessel for the spirit or mind. This might seem a bit strange or contradictory as I am not one who thinks of the mind as separate from the physiological self (no ghosts in machines here). Yet, the “emergent properties” that constitute consciousness or intelligence or mind are, at least theoretically, separable from the electrochemical processes in our brains. So I guess there still is some sort of mind-body duality, in that there are some things we do for the brain versus for the rest of ourselves.

Thus, it was my belief that the physical body should only be afforded the minimal amount of maintenance to ensure that the other parts survived. Of course, being young and invincible helps that manner of thinking.

Some things have changed, surprising even myself. As the ailments of age slowly manifest themselves, it becomes ever apparent that it really does require no small effort to maintain the aspects of youth. I’m no spring chicken anymore, as it were. Being healthy is easy when it requires no work. Also, that slowing metabolism really sucks when trying to lose weight.

It now strikes me as being a bit intellectually smug and naive to think that mental improvement alone is a worthwhile personal achievement. Of course, it’s hard to blame people like myself, who have been comparatively gifted in intelligence and weaned on learning, to prize that which we possess. However, if it is through human efforts that value is derived, then the striving of physical beauty is certainly a huge human accomplishment. One might say that the latter pursuit is ephemeral, but one might also say that everyone dies in the end. In terms of personal goals, all are selfish.

It wasn’t until I started ballet that some of these ideas began to sort themselves out. I’ve slowly come to realize that beauty can be an end unto itself and that self-improvement physically is as important as mentally. (Hidden shout-out to Cardinal Ballet for their Urban Nights performances, as well as obligatorily to tp girl.) So what before seemed disdainful, now it is almost disrespectful to not appreciate the effort she puts into making herself beautiful. One friend commented that it’s okay to compliment a woman on her ass, as a nice ass is always a product of willful action, while, for example, breasts are for the most part endowed by genetics. While my gestaltic view on female beauty disagrees with his, and not to mention my hesitation to objectify women, I think he has an interesting point. All this is to say… something. I’m not sure what. My thoughts are pretty jumbled, and it is late.