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Lions Roar : July 2013
41 SHAMBHALA SUN JULY 2013 “Relax your shoulders, your neck, your back,” Howard says. “Chase away that tension with your breath.” I spend most of my day trying to disappear, trying to squash Body. I have, in many ways, created a perpetual dark- ness in my life. Many fat people do this. To hide ourselves, we exaggerate another part of our personalities. I put on a wide smile. I nod voraciously. I ask questions. I make people laugh. In this way, I place Persona in front of Body. I make people see someone else entirely. This, perhaps, is why fat people have been stereotyped as jolly or good-natured, why fat peo- ple are expected to smile and tell a joke. Yet at the same time, we live in the darkness because we fear what would happen if we let the light in. We fear what we might discover. Worse yet, what others might discover. “Imagine your stresses as paper,” Howard says. “Crumple them up. Throw them away.” Darkness hides our flaws—yes—but it hides us, too. It is the reason the boys in my neighborhood loved playing hide- and-seek at night. Darkness provided shadows and extra cover. If you wore black, you could disappear entirely. “Breathe deeply,” Howard says. “Allow yourself to be only here, in this space.” If I could, I would have remained hidden in the dark- ness. I would have stayed in my hiding spot for as long as I could, never answering to my name when called, never acknowledging my existence. I would have gladly stayed in the dark. Weeks, months, years. And maybe I would’ve been forgotten. Maybe I would’ve become someone’s good mem- ory—“Remember that kid Ira? Best hider on the planet.” Or maybe, just maybe, the songs and stories about me would be absent of the word fat, would start first with he loved the world too much, so he decided to vanish. “Open your eyes,” Howard says. The lights come on and there I lie, blinded by the sudden change, shocked back into the world, and for a second, just a second, I forget about Body, forget his bulk, until I roll on my side and heave myself up. S OME DAYS I take a shower in the dark. I keep the lights off, pull down the shades over the bathroom window, and close the door. Taking a shower in the dark is not a conscious choice. When the water hits me and I grope for my shampoo, I wonder why I decided on this act of cleaning myself with- out light. During these moments I realize Body sometimes makes his own decisions, moves on his own accord, and imposes his own will. Experts say our bodies react to a set