Kids love bodily functions. They are so out there with their enthusiasm about the sounds and substances that bodies create. Talk to any three year old who is in the midst of potty training and you’ll hear intimate details about this new experience. At age four, my daughter’s two favorite words were “booby” and “poopy.” She proudly announced “poopy” as we went around the Thanksgiving table that year, each stating what we were thankful for. Many of the adults at the table may have indeed been thankful for poopy as well, but they all looked at her with shock as she expressed her thanks. Older kids especially love the sounds their bodies make. Many are proud of their expertise in this area, learning how to burp or fart upon command. They not only feel comfortable with these body functions, they celebrate them. At some point though, it becomes an embarrassment. As kids, we’d be sitting in a group playing cards and somebody would say, “Who let one?” Nobody would admit to it. Everybody would then chime in – “He who smelt it dealt it.” And the poor kid who mentioned the offending smell would have to take the heat for it. Somewhere along the line we switch from celebration to embarrassment.
I had a dream where I felt that embarrassment. It was a continuation of the cave dream from the last post.
I leave the cave. As I walk down the street towards my house, I walk past two men. The one man farts loudly as I pass him. I think its funny but I keep walking, pretending I don’t notice. I feel embarrassed for the man.
My first inclination was to not include this part of the dream in the blog. My thoughts went something like this: what an embarrassing subject to write about…. people won’t want to read about that….what will they think of me? …the archetypal cave part of the dream seemed to be so meaningful and this? It’s so… crass, so crude and just not that important….
But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that although initially embarrassing to write about, the subject of this dream is important. Unlike children, adults have discomfort and embarrassment surrounding the sounds, substances and smells that are connected with bodily functions. But why?
In the dream, the animus is there to provoke me. He is standing there with his friend, waiting for just the right moment to surprise me with a fart. I think its funny like I might have as a girl. But quickly I switch and I feel embarrassed for him. But that is just me projecting my embarrassment onto him. He is not embarrassed. Just the opposite. Like children do, he is celebrating the body and he is provoking me to react.
As we work through this part of the dream, Rodger says something obvious. For some reason, it keeps coming back to me.
“We live in these bodies.”
Yes we do. To be human, is to live in a body. There is no getting around it. It’s the physical casing of our being. To stay alive, our bodies create sounds, substances, smells and more. So, why the shame? Why the embarrassment? It occurs to me that to feel shame around the ways in which our bodies function, means to feel shame for existing. I am not suggesting that we all begin to loudly burp and fart in public. But to have shame for our bodies is to have shame for that which allows us to live. I think children get it. The body and all it’s many functions is to be celebrated.