I have really struggled writing this essay.
There, I said it. And now, I can let it go.
I know the full impact, the true impact, of this entire experience won’t hit me until these words are shared alongside my picture. My body, my story; they are my identity.
With wild curls backlit by the sun like a copper halo, green eyes glinting, an amber necklace as her only adornment. Body humming from the inhaling the crisp air, the scent of dry autumn leaves and water on rock. Exhaling, to taste the nostalgia of fall in the mountains.
During the shoot with Erica, I hurdled boulders, leapt towards the sun, tipped into handstands, tumbled out of cartwheels, but ultimately stood naked with all that I am and all that I had to offer, laid bare.
Bare body, embodied. Honest, unearthed, and leaning into the unknown. Her body poised like a question-mark; secure in her skin yet simultaneously stretching as much as she dared. Freedom held in the sunlight at the tips of her hair, the tug of the wind, within her whispered prayer.
I felt so certain, so at peace. And yet since then, I have written and erased and written and erased, a senseless, ceaseless cycle to try to get it right.
What does that even mean? All our lives we are told to do the right thing, look the right way, have the right body, speak the right words, go to the right school, get the right job, marry the right man or the right woman, raise our kids the right way…
For the last week, I have grappled with the want to write this essay the “right” way. Until now.
Struck by realization like a lightning bolt: she was wasting her time trying to define her experiences as good or bad, right or wrong — it was all just life. Instead, she decided to remind herself that she was brave, strong, and creative enough to handle anything.
I am now sitting here, laughing, finally letting go of feeling obligated to write the “right” essay. We can only make it our truth, own what that truth is, and trust that it is enough.
So I will write it my way, because it is my story, my body. There is a certain freedom that comes from the act of accepting: not chasing, not retreating — simply being, as a living being.
Rather ironically, the passage on Death from the book the Prophet, by Kahlil Gibran, spoke to me the most in this process of living:
For what is it to die but to stand naked in the wind and to melt into the sun?
And what is to cease breathing, but to free the breath from its restless tides, that it may rise and expand and seek God unencumbered?
Only when you drink form the river of silence shall you indeed sing.
And when you have reached the mountaintop, then you shall begin to climb.
And when the earth shall claim your limbs, then shall you truly dance.
I am so grateful for this opportunity to embody my body in this newfound way, and know that process may take days, months, years, my entire life, to learn and live and love. To embody is to make a choice, to breathe in the space in between; to soak up stillness with toe curling contentment, as well as wide spread arms and fingers outstretched for the next moment, motion, movement.
Blessed is she, with a body that can dance.