Years ago, I learned about the field of epigenetics. I was fascinated with the science indicating that our DNA code set at birth does not dictate an immutable plan from birth to death. Trauma, nutrition, disease, and other factors change the way genes are expressed, and can be passed down through generations.
It is one reason I believe there is no essential core to each individual, community, or structure. Nothing remains the same. Body, perspective, and personal story are impacted by the environment we live in.
In other words, there is no value to be had in peeling back the skin of a proverbial onion, layer by layer, to get to a place where things are safe, secure, and unchanged. Rather, life is about adding layers to where we began.
Author Rebecca Newberger Goldstein wrote: “I stare at the picture of a small child at a summer’s picnic, clutching her big sister’s hand with one tiny hand. That child is me. But why is she me? I have no memory at all of that summer’s day. It is true that a smooth series of contiguous physical events can be traced from her body to mine, so that we would want to say that her body is mine. [Yet that] series of physical events has rendered the child’s body so different from the one I glance down on at this moment. The very atoms that composed her body no longer compose mine. And if our bodies are dissimilar, our points of view are even more so.”
I have had several conversations with author Carolyn Holbrook, to prepare for our intergenerational August 18 forum, and in anticipation of her powerful essay and memoir excerpt in this magazine. She has long hosted workshops about lives being “More Than a Single Story,” inspired by the Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie concept that we need to stop seeing others (and ourselves) in one dimension.
Holbrook believes that big changes around anti-racism work are finally coming. As someone who was newly of age in the 1960s, however, Holbrook also believes it will become worse before it gets better. Like any birth process, our nerves and our bodies will go through more turmoil before new life is here. She suggests we are just beginning to show signs of what we are gestating.
The people in this magazine share how their bodies and souls evolve through the experiences, relationships, and systems that define us.
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Tapestry — Nourishing Body & Soul
Body & Soul — Madison Johnston: “What Are You Doing Here?”
Body & Soul — Shanai Matteson: Mine Song
Body & Soul — Wang Ping: The Names You Call Me
Perspective — Alma Silver: Defining a Body as “Worthy”
Health & Healing — Q&A: Jacqueline Zepeda, Street Medic
Family & Home — Shannon Gibney, Her Son, and Their Dog
Family & Home— Reader submissions about Pandemic Pets
Adventure & Sports — Gaea Dill-D’Ascoli: What Neighbors Do
Sexuality — Family Tree Clinic: Teaching Intimacy
Money & Business — How COVID Is Affecting Small Businesses
GoSeeDo — Powderhorn Art, Revitalization Auction
In the News — Health Disparities, The Vote, COVID Testing