It’s no secret that I have a long fascination with the human body. As a Chiropractor’s daughter, it’s become second nature to diagnose people by the way they walk. A person’s gait gives away a lot: a bad hip, low back pain, a shoulder or knee injury–these are the things dad taught me (among many other beautiful things) on park benches, hikes, and waiting in airports. And, as a yoga teacher, anatomy is at the forefront of my teaching with the beauty of movement powerfully connecting to the biomechanics of linking breath and body. But as a writer, it’s the poetry of the body that I love: our tiny winged vertebrae, the bronchial tree branching in our lungs, and the thrumming rhythm of our hearts.
It’s no wonder I was drawn to the Real Bodies exhibit, a collection of fully preserved human cadavers, while I was in Vegas this past week. Yes, it was morbid, and at times creepy, but utterly fascinating to stare into the body in such an intimate way. For me, the exhibit was an artist’s paradise: the scientific displays were framed by quotes, beautifully written passages, and mind-blowing facts like:
The saliva you produce in a lifetime can fill two Olympic pools. Or, the volume of air you breathe each day can fill approximately seven hot air balloons.
As a writer I love weaving the strange and factual with creative nonfiction. In 2007, after my mom’s diagnosis with breast cancer (9-year survivor this year–woohoo mom!), I became obsessed with the body and it’s processes; as a Lit major I even took a Biology of Cancer course where the teacher allowed me to write a personal memoir intertwined with facts for my final paper. That same year, I wrote Believer’s Blog, a creative nonfiction piece experimentally blending memoir and facts. The piece was birthed from reading this in the newspaper:
Humans shed about 600,000 particles of skin per hour, about 1.5 pounds a year or 105 pounds of skin by the time they are 70 years old. This translates to an entirely new outer layer of skin cells every 27 days, almost 1000 new skins in an average lifetime.
I was enthralled by this shedding, and this opportunity of so many new skins over a lifetime. I’ve found myself in a creative slump as of late, but somewhere in this raw exhibit I rediscovered that imaginative energy, and shed what had been weighing me down.
As artists, we must have energy. We must seek inspiration. We must hunger for creation. Writers create through drive and passion. Inertia pushes us forward. Yesterday I found that push with an intimate look at our inner workings. Where are you finding yours?
Leave me a comment about how your creativity is going, and in what unexpected ways you are reigniting your creative swagger.
Writing Prompt: Get inspired by the art in your community. See what local museums are curating, go people watching, check out the independent movies listed at the off-beat movie theater. Take your journal. Observe first, then set a timer (for 5, 10, or 15 minutes) and capture whatever thoughts come–continue writing the whole time. Inspiration is out there. It’s whether you are hungry enough to uncover it.
To breath, body, and art,