Sunday, October 18, 2009
As a Cartesian dualist, I’ve always believed the mind lords it over the body with a “peel me a grape,” attitude, and the body scurries around to satisfy the mind’s pursuit of adventure, excitement, passion, gluttony, desire. If the mind has raised the roof too high and the body starts to sulk, then just treat the latter to some thoughtful fuel and measured care, and everything bounces back good as new.
And for most of us, for a time, maybe a long time, results prove this true. But one day results will turn on us, and the mind will command but the body won’t listen. What then? Will I lose the faith? Afterall, philosophies are opportunistic. We adopt them to suit the occasion at hand. Perhaps philosophies, like promises and legs, are made to be broken. When I fell down a mountain a couple of years ago, my Cartesian dualism had a bit of a splat. I walked on a broken leg for three days before finally denying my denial. In that battle, it was Body - 1; Mind – 0, until medical intervention called it a draw.
A couple of people I know are up against some pretty harsh realities, and they’re no longer able to pretend the mind and body can go about their separate business. These people know the body, such a willing accomplice, a sycophant, for all those years, had simply been biding its time. The body is now belle of their personal ball, the focus of much of their time and attention and emotion.
But as I blather on to them about all my trivial pursuits, they don’t shout: How can you talk about this crap you fool, when someday you’re going to hurt, and you’re going to die!
No, instead, they smile, laugh, treat me kindly -- almost gently. There are some things the body can’t steal from the mind, if it’s in the mind to begin with.
These people are my friends. Because they’re my friends and fortune leads to a shadowy place, they want to let go of my hand. Now it’s my turn to hold on tightly.