What is the purpose of your body?
What is the purpose of any body?
Other than to pump blood and flex sinew and flash synapse?
But really…what is the purpose of your body? What is the purpose you have for your body?
Exploring this – really exploring this – created a monumental shift for me as I was writing and experiencing Project Body Love, and it’s a question I’ve been coming back to time and time again, both for myself and in supporting other women on their own body love journeys. Here’s what I think, as excerpted from Project Body Love:
I have long loved the work and writings of Danielle LaPorte. One particular concept that she explored in one of her blog posts resonated with me deeply. She asked the question: what is your purpose for money?
At the time, I was in the middle of considering a massive career change that included giving up a healthy, salaried income with benefits in exchange for a lesser-paid position at a non-profit. I noticed myself becoming quite embroiled in the number that would be my new salary, and noticed that I had had a value about money and income that hadn’t fully surfaced until I had considered this career change.
The question “what is your purpose for money?“ is not about how much money you want to make, but rather the deep and abiding purpose you have for making that money. It’s about naming the handful of things that you want to do with your money.
Asking this question of myself allowed me to see through all of my made-up stories about how much money I needed or wanted to make per year, and caused me to really ask if my money was achieving what I wanted it to achieve for me. Realizing my purpose for money made me realize that that purpose could actually be fulfilled on a much lower salary, and with a reprioritization of some of my expenditures that didn’t align with that purpose.
The power of asking this question made me want to ask the same question about my body.
I was taken aback to realize that I hadn’t truly engaged with this way of thinking about my body before.
Asking “what is my purpose for my body” was a massive wake-up call.
I had spent the last twenty or more years obsessed with the appearance and subsequent social acceptability of my body, without actually tuning into what I wanted to achieve with my body, in my body. How my body could serve me, and serve the purpose I had for my life.
Because surely fitting back into my pre-motherhood pants or enjoying the reflection I saw in shop windows as I walked down the street couldn’t be the reason I was put here on this earth in this particular physical form, no?
When I asked myself “what is your purpose for your body,” along with “what do you really want here?,” and “how do you want to feel?,” the answer came swiftly and confidently.
I want to be able to experience life’s joys.
In the past, perhaps my response to this question would have been to “be healthy,” but truthfully, I don’t know what healthy actually feels like. What does healthy allow me to do? My sense was that healthy was actually a thinly-veiled manifestation of my acculturated beliefs that healthy meant thin. I am healthy. And I’m fat.
So what do I really want? What do I want my body to achieve for me?
I want to be able to jump into the lake and swim to the other side.
I want to feel the cold water around my body and see the sun sparkling off the waves as I turn my head to breathe.
I want my body to be able to feel the joyous embraces and soft little kisses of my two beautiful children, whom, incidentally, my body created, birthed and nourished, all by itself.
I want my body to allow me to travel all over the world and experience the tastes, smells, sights and sounds of new cultures.
I want to fly down hills on my bicycle, experience deep peace in meditation, and feel the excited terror of a wave barrelling toward me as I prepare to jump to my feet on my surfboard.
I want my body to allow me to know the exquisiteness of a perfectly-set creme brûlée, to delight in the pleasure of cracking a perfectly caramelized crust of sugar with my spoon.
I want to feel my toes curling into dewy grass, and my hands to know when the tomatoes are ripe for picking.
I want to use my hands to hold the hands of those I love, and to press firmly on the backs and legs of the labouring women I support; I want my hands to offer comfort.
I want to feel wind in my hair, and smell lilacs in the spring.
I want my body to know the pleasure of a flowing, floral dress tickling my legs as I walk.
I want to know what it is to be held and to feel deeply supported and cared for.
I want to hear the peeper frogs on a cool spring night, and my daughter saying “I love you times infinity times a hundred million galaxy universes!”
I want my body to help me learn its wisdom, to guide my intuition with the feeling in my gut and to walk me through the forest as I seek clarity.
This is what it is to be able to experience life’s joys.
This is my purpose for my body.
And every. single. one. of these things are possible no matter the shape of my body. Every single one.
I have to wonder, what else is there?
We are each given a body with which to experience this earthly realm. Truly, we have no idea why we’ve been granted the physical form we’ve been granted. We are each so entirely different in so many ways, and we were, for the most part, made that way.
And so what more do we have to do, truly, than accept that form and allow it — truly allow it — to give us the gift of the human experience we were meant to, and deserve to, enjoy?