When I was young and single, I lived in Chicago for a few years and worked in an office downtown. Every day at noon, I grabbed my book and my lunch and found a place where I could read and eat.
My book was called “Contemporary American Poetry” and I read a couple of poems every day, savoring the words and searching for the meanings.
My lunch was a slice of bologna or American cheese and a bottle of Diet Pepsi. In an effort to stay thin, I neglected my body while I fed my mind.
I didn’t think about that then. When I was growing up, the body was treated like a kind of machine that you hauled around and maintained but which was separate from thoughts and feelings. If I caught a cold, my mother blamed wet feet or somebody’s germs—certainly not worry or sadness.
It would take me years to learn that mind and body are inseparable, that they nourish—or starve—each other. I still take “Contemporary American Poetry” off my shelf even though it isn’t contemporary anymore. I also eat a healthier lunch. Words and meanings, fruits and vegetables.