An Agreement

Muang Mai landscape with a bright blue sky

A friend once observed that many bodies and forms live in us: heads and hands and hearts and lungs. And feet that we use to keep on walking.

After nearly two years of reflection, I agree.

Those bodies and forms dovetail into the one entire person that we each actually are.

It sounds simple but was by no means a straightforward process;
we were like a lump of unshaped clay at first (thank Earth for giving us even that much), born as funny-looking babies with oversized foreheads. Then we got molded and prodded into an adult-sized human and eventually hardened like molten lava into sulfurous igneous rock.

And so there we were for some time, thinking we’re all shapely and set in stone until an older soul points out that there’s more to us than just the outward form and that our various body parts are interrelated pieces of our overall whole.

Which is some wisdom, man.

But I totally agree — there are definitely sections and subsections to our whole-ness, you know?
And I also agree that changing physical locations can help a person better experience life because it puts them into situations where they’re obligated to use the multiple bodies of themself to cope or enjoy or feel.

The tough part, I figure, is uncovering which specific facet could and should be presented in each context. Like when walking down a dirt road like the one in Muang Mai for example, I would use my feet and eyes but also my ankles and toes to keep me from tripping on the larger rocks and holes. Easy enough. But when conversing in English, I definitely use my head and mouth and lips as well as my tongue and heart to hate and/or accept the person I’m talking with. That’s more ambiguous.

But, again, those body parts exist and are all incorporated into us regardless of what gets displayed on the outside, and that is like the truest affirmation of our clay-like selves I’ve ever heard.

So then maybe I’ll use a different metaphor from now on (like a conglomerate rock or a whitish-tan sandstone boulder flecked with differently sized pebbles…) and continue trying to embrace the forms and entirety of myself and others.

Friend, if you’re reading this, I want to let you know that my life has changed a lot and I’m sure yours has too but I miss you like hell nonetheless. I hope you’ve kept your sandals dirty para seguir caminando.

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Author: Erik Fruth

Erik lived in Shanghai from September 2014 to July 2015 while studying Mandarin at Fudan University and teaching English. Since then, he's continued writing and working in Ventura County, California.