Sunday, March 28, 2010

Body Language

Lately I've been thinking about my own body more than usual. I'm to be in a wedding soon, which makes me wonder how that little black dress is going to look on me. (It will look a little different from this, as the bride is graciously allowing me, as matron of honor, to add a strap.) And I wonder what on earth I should do with my hair. And I wonder, will I make it up the aisle without tripping on heels, which I never wear?!

I've had several lovely days for walking, and even did a wee bit of running on one of them, and find myself longing to be seventeen again, able to run without thinking about an injured knee. And just being in good enough shape to run five miles when called for. Every now and then these days, I daydream about being able to do that again, though I've still not been able to get the shoes I need, and it's been too cold to run barefoot. So I'm not very far along that path, even though the very idea of being able to dream of it is exciting.

And I've done a bit of yoga and something called Doxa Soma recently, in both cases being reminded of posture. What seems to have stuck in my mind most is the Doxa Soma encouragement to "keep your heart lifted and open," which works much better for me than, "Keep your back straight and your shoulders down."

But the thing about body language that hit me yesterday had to do with other people's bodies, three brief encounters that haven't yet left my mind.

First, I went to the bank to deposit my meager earnings for the week. I parked my car next to a beautifully cared-for antique car, a two-toned teal/acqua vehicle from the early 1950's by my guess. It was just lovely and something of a wonder to behold. The bank was not crowded, so as I walked in I wondered if I could guess who was the owner of that car by how they looked or dressed, or talked, or something. It would have to be someone with money and taste, I figured, and that should show. I asked a couple of men if it belonged to them, but they had no idea about it.

As I was leaving the bank, the car was just pulling out, and I saw who was in it. It was a woman I'd seen in the bank--large, unkempt, with sad posture and with long, thin stringy hair and a whiny voice as she talked with the teller about some problems she was having. It was so completely not what I expected that I just haven't been able to get the image out of my mind.

Next, I went to the bookstore where I worked once upon a time and got to see some of my former co-workers. I ran into a friend from a school where I also worked once upon a time. With each of these people, I couldn't help but notice that their bodies said they were glad to see me. Backs straightened, eyes lit up, smiles appeared. Our eyes connected.

The friend was someone I hadn't seen in over a year, and we had catching up to do, so we stood there and talked for quite a while. In a city this size, it's always nice to go to a place where people know you, and then to unexpectedly run into someone who knows you. It just plain felt good. For a while I forgot that I was wearing my work-in-the-yard clothes, and that the socks I was wearing looked hilarious with the shoes I had on. And I noticed as we talked, and even as I left to check out, how straight I was standing--how open my heart was, both physically and emotionally.

And then, as I was leaving the shopping center, I happened to catch sight in my rear view mirror of a man exiting a jewelry shop and seating himself on the bench outside. It was Saturday afternoon, and I guess he stood out because he was wearing a three-piece suit. I sat in my car having to wait for passing traffic, so I just observed him for a moment. What struck me in this moment was that he was moving his legs in a particular way, knees moving closer and apart, closer and apart, the way children do when they are excited or nervous. The way grownups intentionally refrain from doing when they are excited or nervous--espeically while in the presence of other grownups wearing three-piece suits.

But this man just sat there on the bench, legs playing a rapid etude in contrary motion, with no idea I was watching him. I wondered if he were waiting for someone he was eager to see, or for a wealthy and difficult customer to show up, or if he had just been reprimanded by his boss, or just what those legs were saying. And I doubt I would ever have noticed it, if not for the suit and tie.

No big point to this little writing. Just three separate incidents related to body (and clothing) awareness and my amazement at how much we do depend on body language for information, and how little we may realize others are "reading" us, or trying to. And how the inner state does get expressed, even if clothes (or cars) might give different messages.

So, even though a little black dress and heels do not express my general inner state, maybe if I can stay very calm on the day of the wedding, I can make it down that aisle and back up without tripping.

I sure hope so.


CarolinaGirl said...

You make such a good point re: watching people who sometimes figure to be what you least expect. One of the things I enjoy most of going to the River Walk in San Antonio is finding a place to sit and just watching people as they pass by. It says so much.

Lucy said...

You'll look lovely anyway!

Good post.

Sheila said...

Well, yes, I suppose that is some consolation. I may look like a klutz, but a nicely dressed one! (I did actually trip and almost fall the first time I auditioned for a school play. It was pretty funny.)