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Alone in my body

As a toddler, I spent most of my days at play-school, with my toes buried in sandpits and my hands covered in paint. Every evening, when my mom arrived to fetch me, I'd race my worn-out feet to the front patio and pull my shoes from a long line of tiny footwear: Each little shoe waiting to be filled and transported home. On one of these evenings, my mom stood over me, while I sat pounding my shoes against the cement floor and then peering into their soles. Between each round of pounding and peering, I'd slide my foot into a shoe, wince, and take it off again.

'There's sand in my shoe!', I kept saying, shaking the floppy sandel above my head. ' Puzzled, but patient, my mom looked over and said (for the third time): 'There's no sand, I promise'. 'But I can feel it!' I insisted, desperately.

Later, I would look back on this day and realise it was my first experience of pins and needles. But it was also the first time I realised that, under my skin, I was fundamentally alone. I wanted so badly to transport my mother inside my body — to have her feel the pricks on the bottom of my feet, and validate that they were real. I struggled to accept that there would be slices of my life where she couldn't enter, where I would have to fend for myself.

Our bodies are our windows to the world: like looking always through a windscreen, of a vehicle we can't escape. As a child, I was deeply shaken by the idea that I would never know life from another body.

This blog is about what it means to view life from the body. What can thinking through the body reveal about the social world? How have human beings negated, controlled and healed the body, and to what end? How have our bodies connected or divided us?

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