Anaesthesia

How we do what we do is what we are becoming
~ H. Maturana

When reading this quote the interdependent parts of my body went in a trip to a rainy afternoon cooking chickpeas, I am not too sure why, my body, she must know… from there the trip took a weird turn to Rumi’s poem, Chickpea to Cook. Poetry has that weird way of transporting our bodies, maybe it’s the aesthetics. Could poetry be that place where words live in a relationship with bodies? But not quite in the words said or read or written, more in the rhythm of the silences between them, gaps where the sensations find life. Where the un-thought thought might linger for a little longer, giving space and time for our skin to sweat an essence that our bodies recognise. Maybe right there is where the un-thought thought is excreted?

Standing in the kitchen, in this process of reading writing pausing, something took form… different to what I was given, like in the body food changes form into debris, blood, viscera, muscle… but for a few hours it is still forming. I left it combining there, even when it wasn’t quite there yet, to look into and for the place where the body’s senses live. That place where, what François Jullien called Les transformations silencieuses , actually happen.

I went to read a friend’s blog about scallops and she gave me a double gift that made me first salivate and then cry. We are body fluids. With the first gift she introduced me to seagrass and, with the second gift she shared a link to a documentary called The Biggest Little Farm (that is when I cried). I forgot about the process submerged in the fluids of my guts. Or that was what I thought… When I came back to tend, to pay attention, to care for my tummy, the un-thought thought burped:

How we eat is what we are becoming.

The silence that followed was a different silence. It was nourishing vitality, the one that gives back silently, in gratitude, what has been gifted. That thought (the one un-thought before that came out in a burp) had been born in a process of reflexive interplay between in and out called digestion.

That relationship between in and out, that communication, that fragile compound where life thrives is diverse untamed and requires time. ‘Five a day’, as familiar a concept as that might seem, thrives within a system of controlled outcomes, not in silence and time, not in untamed diversity but in domesticated anaesthesia.

How we eat is what we are becoming… and we are becoming starved.

At that point, the memory of a friend I met on my way to a concert in Madrid 35 years ago came to spray some juices into the digestive process, and with that memory a story… 

We were at the queue to pick some food from the buffet and, to my surprise, he told me he was vegetarian. He was the first person I had met with this chosen belief, apart from those whose tradition comes from their relationship with their past and the land. I was puzzled. I asked him with curiosity, ‘Why?’ His answer shocked me. I still can remember his face filled with pride: ‘I don’t eat dead bodies.’ Apart from the obvious joke, I tried to picture any food that was not coming from a process of transforming life into death into life. The picture was ugly.

I guess the ugliness of that picture never really left my body because since then my guts recognise the smell, the sound, the taste of what ‘not eating dead bodies’ means, even in its most subtle versions. 

When that ugliness finds me, I invite poetry. 

Let’s come back to poetry. Let’s linger in the smells, voices and taste of the chickpeas who give themselves to become us, the same way we may offer ourselves to become land.