By Mark Burrow
In the beginning, the absence of a body bothered me. I‘d look in the mirror and get upset about my weightlessness. Like all bouts of anxiety and melancholy, it passed.
I grew accustomed to my vaporous existence. I started to recognise the upside of the situation. It was in fact foolish of me to miss my teeth, hair and eyes, to mourn for my skin, arms and legs. They may have brought with them a certain firmness to the ambiguities of life, but they came with baggage too.
It’s the body, riddled with design flaws, that causes unhappiness. It’s why entire professions and industries have been invented to keep the machinery of flesh, tissue and bone in operation. Diagnosing ulcers. Gallstones. Haemorrhoids. Glandular fever. Rickets. Typhus. Lupus. Pink eye and various blood disorders.
Think of how damaged limbs can become when standing on overcrowded trains on the commute to work. Day in, day out. Year after year. And then there are the back aches and stomach aches, which brings me on nicely to the heart – the biggest source of pain of all. It felt like carrying an invisible, aching moon inside of me. I don’t miss its gravity one little bit.
The cult of the body and the heart and the mind have reached their zenith in our modern times, both culturally and politically. I understand these fascinations. I am not suggesting for a second that the body is bad, or that the heart is a mistake, or the mind overrated, only that they bring with them irritations. Schisms. Problems.
Let’s speak frankly: the people side of existence requires as much hard work as keeping a body’s temperature at 37°C.
Back when I had a physique, I wouldn’t describe myself as a grand socialiser, nor was I a recluse. I was the sort of fellow who, over time, accepted that he was not talented in the art of conversation, of telling humorous anecdotes and recalling facts and obscure trivia.
If I’m to delve deeper, I admit I was a distant son and a distracted, bored husband.
It’s better like this, where I’m out of sight and out of mind, drifting like a formless unholy ghost. I observe the people I once knew and see how life goes on. I can smile at the unpeeled pleasure of lovers kissing in the soft light of a summer’s evening. I marvel at the sight of a person closing their fingers into a clenched fist and then releasing.
In moments of weakness, I admit to degrees of longing for the physicality I once took for granted.
Then I see the weeping. Hear the cries and the sorrow of aching hearts. Watching the destructive effects of gravity.
And I’m happy to be invisible, camouflaged by the very air itself.
Not vanishing as such, as I was never really there.