You know I’m a podcast junkie. One of my favorites is “On Being” with Krista Tippett. I don’t always catch every episode but I enjoy her conversations immensely, even when I’ve never heard of her guest. (Those can be some of my favorite episodes.) I like how Krista — she carpools with me to and from work, so we’re on a first name basis — asks thoughtful questions that produce insightful answers. Her voice is so resonant and calming, and I just feel better after listening to her, especially after a long day.
She launched “Becoming Wise” in March, a new podcast based on her recently-published book Becoming Wise: An Inquiry into the Mystery and Art of Living. (I have this checked out from the library now and it’s among the books I really want to get to this holiday weekend.) At an average of 10 minutes each, “Becoming Wise” is much shorter than “On Being” which makes it easy to catch up on several at a time, as I’m doing (although not in chronological order).
Episode #15 of Becoming Wise (“I Feel, Therefore I Am”) featured playwright, performer, and activist Eve Ensler. Now, I happen to think Eve Ensler is one of the most powerful and influential women on the face of the Earth. Her work resonates deeply with me as it has a significant personal meaning to my life.
In this episode of “Becoming Wise,” Eve echoes the themes of many of Krista Tippett’s guests as she talks about being connected with the world.
“How in our daily lives are we connecting with ourselves and everything around us? Because that’s where real, energetic transformation comes from.”
It’s a theme that Eve explores in detail with her memoir In the Body of the World, which is such a powerful book. (I listened to this on audio two years ago and it has stayed with me ever since.) It’s described as “a visionary memoir of separation and connection – to the body, the self, and the world.”
That is an understatement.
This is a cancer memoir and as one would expect from Eve Ensler, it kicks cancer’s ass. It is honest and raw. (Again, this is the creator of The Vagina Monologues we’re talking about here. You want bravery and telling-it-like-it-is? Eve Ensler, poster child, right there.)
From the publisher’s description:
Playwright, author, and activist Eve Ensler has devoted her life to the female body—how to talk about it, how to protect and value it. Yet she spent much of her life disassociated from her own body—a disconnection brought on by her father’s sexual abuse and her mother’s remoteness. “Because I did not, could not inhabit my body or the Earth,” she writes, “I could not feel or know their pain.”
But Ensler is shocked out of her distance. While working in the Congo, she is shattered to encounter the horrific rape and violence inflicted on the women there. Soon after, she is diagnosed with uterine cancer, and through months of harrowing treatment, she is forced to become first and foremost a body—pricked, punctured, cut, scanned. It is then that all distance is erased. As she connects her own illness to the devastation of the earth, her life force to the resilience of humanity, she is finally, fully—and gratefully—joined to the body of the world.
Here’s a quote from In the Body of the World that I loved.
“Love was something you succeeded or failed. It was like a corporate activity. You won or lost. People loved you and then they didn’t…. I had failed at love or the story I had bought about love… I was reaching at love , but it turns out love doesn’t involve reaching. I was always dreaming of the big love, the ultimate love, the love that would sweep me off my feet or ‘break open the hard shell of my lesser self’. The love that would bring on my surrender. The love that would inspire me to give everything. As I lay there, it occurred to me that while I had been dreaming of this big love, this ultimate love, I had, without realizing it, been giving and receiving love for most of my life.
The life I was living was a life of love.”
Seems like it still is.
This is post #31 of 99 in my 99 Days of Summer Blogging project.