Dear Jumbo: I fall in love with the body

This week, let’s talk about the big L. Love.

Our society hates paternalism. We don’t like people telling us what to do, let alone how to be.

It is not surprising then that talking about loving one another as people is only a topic for “religious” folks, who are becoming more outdated in the eyes of hip youngsters. When it comes to romantic love, we absorb cultural ideals from whatever sources we consume. Then, unconsciously or not, we follow them, and when these ideals don’t serve us well, we blame pop culture. Deep down, we are all looking for guidance in this strange journey.

Yes, we should teach people not to commit sexual assault instead of putting the onus on those who have been violated to have done things differently. But what these two approaches have in common is that they focus on What Not To Do.

The issue is, in a world of countless options, What Not To Do does not quite help. We should teach, by examples and meaningful conversations, What To Do, and even more importantly, How To Be. I’m going to risk being paternal here, in this tiny column, on one of the biggest pet topics of humanity. Let me talk about Love and the Body.

Last Saturday, I went to sleep and had an “oh wow” moment under the blanket. “Wow, my body is a thing, a full, alive, sensual thing.” I was there and love was there and that was it. The moment just felt complete. Bliss.

Sounds weird? Hear me out.

As an armchair philosopher, I have to admit, thinking about the pleasure of the body is missing the point. It has to be experienced. Since coming to Tufts, my biggest learning has been to be in the body. Physicality, sensuality, sexuality: all these sound antithetical to this kid who always loves the world of ideas.

But I love people, and I cannot be with other people if I haven’t learned how to be with myself. And that starts with a loving relationship with my body. I used to chase that “jacked” look through Leg Days and Arm Days and Shoulder Days. Now I just want a Good Day.

Don’t get me wrong: I still lift regularly, high-fiving my fellow gym rats and admiring those biceps. At the same time, I learn to celebrate the quirky side of the body — not only the ripped abs or rounded glutes but also the drum-like bellies and the springy slabs of skin under the elbow. People often say, “Get comfortable in your own skin,” but do we actually know how our skin feels?  

Sounds weirder? Try it alone first.

Touch yourself as if your skin is a jewel found on the Silk Road. Experience the smoothening quality of a shower rather than the burning sense of a vodka shot. If you bring that appreciation and curiosity toward every part of the body, you will turn the world on. Because when we really know how to be in love with our bodies, we will naturally bring that sensibility to others. I don’t just want a world with less sexual assault. I want a world with more love that fulfills.

Thoughts? Sensations? Let me know at bit.ly/dearJumbo.


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