Do You Really Want To Know What Your Body Parts Are Saying About You?

finger of Northumberlandia, Lady of the North
finger of Northumberlandia, Lady of the North

When I broke my wrist a couple of weeks ago, two people on the same day warned me to be sure to treat the pain. The body remembers, they told me.

As an ex-dancer I’m a firm believer in body memory. It’s a wonderful feeling to let one’s body take over and remember the movements of a choreography. And who hasn’t moved in a particular way (or smelled or tasted or heard something) and have a previous occasion – where we were and who we were with – leap to mind?

But here’s something very weird: I’m convinced (in retrospect) that a week before I broke my wrist, it saw the future.

Suddenly, out of the blue, the Saturday before, my wrist started to ache like crazy. I’d broken it in 2008 with a bad fall on black ice. It had taken a long time for it to fully recover its strength and mobility and to be without pain but it hadn’t been a problem for ages. In fact, I’d forgotten all about the break. But that particular week it was constantly painful.

Suppose my wrist knew in advance that it was going to rain on the following Saturday, that I’d put on my wellington boots, that I’d step onto the slick wooden bridge…? Suppose it was talking to me, warning me, knowing I’d put on those wellies even though I hate wearing them because they are so slippy? Is my wrist now muttering away, saying what an idiot I am, that I should have known better? Is it furious with me?

Some believe that body parts do talk about their owners. A broad forehead, a pointed chin, sharp elbows, broad feet… Suppose body parts could talk? What would they say? Would the eyes tell about the time you told them to look and they didn’t want to? The hand tell about the time you told it to grab and it let go? The foot about the time you said to walk away and it kicked? Sounds like a story…

“I understand nothing,” answered the nose. “I repeat, please explain yourself more distinctly.”

“Honourable sir,” said Kovaloff with dignity, “[…] It seems to me the matter is as clear as possible. Or do you wish—but you are after all my own nose!”

The nose looked at the Major and wrinkled its forehead. “There you are wrong, respected sir; I am myself. Besides, there can be no close relations between us. To judge by the buttons of your uniform, you must be in quite a different department to mine.” So saying, the nose turned away. Nikolai Gogol’s The Nose

 

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