I've been watching a lot of Anthony Bourdain's show No Reservations lately. As I shared on instagram, he was a hero of mine. Also, I had a really big crush, as my husband can attest.
While watching his show, I was reminded of one of his famous quotes, "Your body is not a temple, it's an amusement park. Enjoy the ride." His one-liners are just the best...excuse me while I pause to shed a few tears for the 347th time.
I've always loved this quote because there's something about the whole "your body is a temple" thing that never sat right with me. Like, have you ever been to a temple? We visited quite a few in Japan, and there were some pretty intense rituals involved to keep the temple pure. You're supposed to purify your hands and mouth with water before entering. You have to take your shoes off and not let your socked feet touch the ground before entering in order to keep the floors clean. You can't go if you're sick or have an open wound. The temples are immaculately cared for. I watched people raking the leaves off the gravel walkway and they literally got every last leaf. It was pretty impressive. That's cool for a temple, but that seems like a pretty intense level of care for a body that's designed to take some wear and tear.
I get what "your body is a temple" is trying to say, but every time I hear it, it's being used to justify some clean eating plan or detox or intense yoga program. To me, it feels super moralizing and shaming, not encouraging.
Instead, I like to think of my body as my home.
A home is a place to feel comfortable. It's not a house, which to me sounds like a thing that you buy and renovate and put in granite countertops and then move on to bigger place. It's a place where you know every creaky wooden floorboard and where to put a towel when it rains really hard and the best place to sit to enjoy the morning sunlight streaming through the windows. A home is where you feel cozy, safe and secure. That's a feeling we all deserve to have in our bodies.
Just like our actual home, we are allowed to decorate our bodily home however we like - makeup, tattoos, hair coloring, comfy clothes, revealing clothes, trendy clothes - you name it. And while certain decorating choices might get you some looks (like parachute pants or painting your house hot pink), you still get to do what you want.
It's smart to take good care of our home, because you're going to live in it awhile. But just like there are some dirty dishes in my sink, a garden that needs to be weeded, some drafts that need to be sealed, I know that I don't have to keep my bodily home in immaculate condition either. But at the same time, just like if I let that small leak in our shower go too long, it might become an issue, I know that if there's something off in my physical home, I don't want to let it go too long without addressing it.
Our homes deserve to be treated with respect, both by ourself, and by others. It is our place, so we dictate the boundaries about how it should be treated. You want people to take their shoes off at the front door? Then they take their shoes off at the front door.
Sometimes our homes don't do what we want, despite our interventions. Y'all, lemme tell you about our back patio. Scott and I laid down an entire brick patio in our backyard, then realized we probably should have first put down sand to even out the space, and something to keep weeds from growing. So we picked the entire brick patio back up, put down sand and that black weed fabric stuff, then laid our entire brick patio down again. Welp, what would you know but a couple weeks into this spring but our patio was covered in weeds. So, I spent an entire weekend painstakingly pulling weeds out on an 80 degree humid day. A month and a half later, and our patio is even more covered with weeds than it was before. Alls that to say, we don't have complete control over our physical homes, or our bodily homes. Things break down over time, and sometimes they just have weird annoying things that have been there from the beginning.
A home is a place where you live. It's where you play, relax, learn, grow and just be. It's where you have memories that are happy, sad, mundane and sweet. You may not love everything about it, but it is yours. It is part of you, but it is not all of you.
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