Summer Incognito

So here we are, halfway through summer. One of the more unusual challenges this season poses for me is that I find it particularly difficult to recognize acquaintances, and even friends, when I’m at the pool. During the rest of the year, I tend to identify people primarily by their faces, since their bodies are usually swathed in clothing. Yet when I go to the pool, the opposite is the case.  Encased in large floppy hats and oversized sunglasses, people’s faces are hidden while their bodies are abnormally revealed. Call it a sort of ‘summer incognito’.

Thinking about this summer disguise, I got to thinking: what if there was a season where instead of revealing our bodies, we revealed our souls? How many of us would recognize each other, or even ourselves, if we stripped away the superficial to reveal our true character?

Would we discover that our ‘core’ had gotten soft, in need of some spiritual Pilates?  Would we resolve to finally go get that scar fixed that had plagued us for so many
years? Would we be like Paul Giamatti in the brilliant film Cold Souls, who discovered that after years of neglect his soul had shriveled to the size of a chickpea?

What do I think my soul would look like? Well, I won’t go into too much detail on that subject since, as I wrote in my last post, I believe in keeping some things private. But if I had to guess, I think it would look something like this:

In other words, an odd amalgam of contradictory parts: a bleeding heart liberal who went to business school, a Jew who is actively involved in her Presbyterian church, a suburban housewife who reads Wittgenstein at the pool (OK that last one is mainly because I can’t find my friends at the pool because I can’t recognize them).

Anyway, these thoughts have motivated me to spend some time this summer trying to “work out” my spirit: by getting to church on a Sunday morning, by meditating, by practicing random acts of charity, or by simply trying to carve out a fragment of peace and quiet in the endless buzz of children home for the summer. Maybe by the end of the summer my soul will even be ready for a bikini.

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