Are we our bodies?


Many years ago I composed a letter to some people in my life and one of the lines was “I am not my body.” I can’t recall where I’d heard that before but the statement helped me realize that as people we have physical bodies, but 99.9% of who we are is contained inside our heads. This made me feel much better about dealing with the physical ramifications of having muscular dystrophy. Sometimes it can be difficult to remember that we are not our bodies, we just use them.

Many of the commercials we see on TV are selling something that will make our physical appearance better — makeup, clothing, weight loss products, acne treatments, hair products, and more. It’s difficult to look at these commercials and refrain from judging ourselves based on our appearances. Throw in some of the physical things involved with muscular dystrophy and it’s difficult to exist without constantly wanting to physically function like everyone else, much less have the same nice clothes and shiny hair.

Our bodies are tools for us to use to exist, but consider this: What if you could exist as a just a head? Picture your head and another friend’s head on a table somewhere, and you’re just there talking. How different of a person are you now because you’re just a head? Even though you and your friend are just heads, you are still different from each other in the way you were before. How much of you has actually changed now that most of your body is gone?

Sure you will have some logistical issues to deal with, like “Who is going to carry my head around town?” but your memories, opinions, knowledge, and all thoughts are still occurring as usual. You can have a conversation with your friend and still agree/disagree about the same old things. You can laugh, feel happy, sad, depressed or energized. True, some of this manifests inside your physical body, but you process your experiences in this world through your brain, which is still in tact.

So next time you are just sitting around talking to friends or family, consider what is happening — you are communicating and enjoying each other’s company without even moving very much. In this situation, does it matter that maybe your arms are weak or your legs can’t walk anymore? Not really. You are still participating in life and relationships and you can find ways to be happy and enjoy it for as long as it lasts.

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