Written by: Lauren W.
Sitting now at a kitchen table, with five dogs all barking and sniffing around me, my coffee growing cold, and the looming anxiety of a nationwide pandemic lingering at the back of my mind, how can I possibly expect to take my own body out of this blog post?
Let me explain.
Recently, I had the great pleasure of
devouring reading Samantha Powers’ The Education of an Idealist, a memoir that follows her life from a childhood in Ireland all the way to a UN ambassador for the United States. As I was reading, as your mind tends to do after you have found yourself a part of the writing center community, I began to see connections to my own thoughts and struggles within the UWC that Powers articulated as a life-long advocate for social justice and empathy.
When you enter the Writing Center space, is can be easy to get comfortable within the bubble of becoming comfortable with the uncomfortable, and the many conversations that strive to be inclusive, diverse, and welcoming. Of course, as I sat within the physical walls of the Writing Center, and as I sit now distanced but still breathing the same (figurative) air, I was still consciously aware of the many discourses and conversations happening within the world. This does not have to mean political discourse or world-altering conversations, but even those between my family and fiancé at home, as I ponder what to make for dinner and how much almond milk is left in the fridge.
That is why you cannot take your own body out of any space, including the Writing Center.
Wiggle your toes, if you like.
Stretch your arms above your head, if it feels right.
In whatever space you are currently within, your body and all the outside baggage that comes with that, follows. Powers struggled with this concept as she moved through different spaces, from immigrant, intern, reporter, student, professor, White House employee during the Obama administration, mother, UN ambassador, wife, and woman. Powers found herself overly saturated in her own body and what was happening around her, as she put it: “…I reacted as though current events had something to do with me,” (42).
Of course, Powers was within a position in which she could actively engage with officials in our government and appeal to those who create our policies and laws. Her position in our government allowed her to work with her body within her most frequently visited space, not outside or against it. So how does this translate to us, who’s most occupied spaces do not allow for this sort of mind-body connection?
I would argue, simply put, that we do not need to do anything about our bodies. Our bodies follow us through all the spaces we visit, and we should not try and scrape off what sticks to us just because we are within a new space. Our body goes with us everywhere, and what we absorb and carry with us, whether it be within the Writing Center or otherwise, presents both challenges and chances for growth. Within the Writing Center, we do not have to shed our diplomacy or personal struggles like a transparent skin, and we should not have “to choose between public and private diplomacy; both have their place.” (358). That is, our private and public selves do not have to be so different as we originally thought. Perhaps, they are simply different shades of the same hue.
The history of our bodies follows us from our personal lives into the Writing Center, and everywhere beyond and in-between. Take care of it, express gratitude for it, and embrace all that which gives you a unique and undeniably you perspective.
Check out The Education of an Idealist by Samantha Power available now.