Human

This is the opening piece from a collection of non-fiction written for my senior seminar.


There is no better place to start than at the sacrum; there is no better place to begin than in transition. 

Skeletal transition: the sacrum is inherently liminal. The place where our column of strength and structure, the spine, ends. The place from which that hideous vestigial tail sprouts. 

The sacrum fixes and tapers the chain of osteo-discontinuity—it is the border between wholeness and apartness. In this it represents humanity well. 

I expressed my humanity early on, stealing from my best friends. Maybe even earlier, somewhere in the breast feeding and napping. As a child I faked being asleep—feeling patronized. 

More childhood: selling trading cards during recess, playing house with the girls, elementary school fist fights, in-school suspension, little league baseball (drawing circles in the outfield dirt), pinewood derby, September Eleventh, anger management counseling (feeling patronized), out-of-school suspension. 

The sacrum usually begins as five distinct vertebrae, and then it starts to fuse during adolescence. How do bones fuse? Slowly. Calcium building on calcium, gravity slowly binding in ultimacy. 

These vertebrae are fully fused by the early thirties. My sacrum cries out to me: Hurry, while there’s still time! Live! Write! As if the only way these words can escape me is through those tiny, lightless gaps. 

How can I know anything! My bones aren’t even anchored yet. This text is nothing but a collection of microcosms and macrocosms, fallacies of various degrees. But still, I urge you to continue, like we all do, and suspend your disbelief.

My humanity was characterized primarily by independence, or perceived independence. I am arrogant enough to believe this to be universal. We share the same image in our DNA. Thought, emotion, humor, digestion, bones—we’re not so different, you and I.

Is worship in our DNA as well? Why are we pre-disposed to so many forms of devotion? If we prize freedom, why are we so quick to submit ourselves to substances, infatuations, ideologies, frameworks?

I am from the suburb that always sleeps. Very rarely did the world interfere with my understanding of it, rarely inserting difficulty or struggle from the outside.

But from the inside, the sacrum. While in high school I was overweight and I bussed tables at a kitsch restaurant. As a sixteen year old—lower back pain! The sacrum, like all parts of the body, mysteriously prone to pathos of all sorts.

So misleading, pain that comes from a bone with such angelic wings. Symmetric and central, yet a bone so humble, bowing forward in contrition.

So expected, pain that comes from a web of such alien sinew and skeleton. Slick and shiny spider webs binding the sacrum to the ancient hips and the quivering muscles. How monstrous are my insides! 

From the inside, the paralysis of depression, misty sorrow. 

It’s a question of cognitive dissonance: why do we fall short of our own moral standards?

It’s a question of corporal assonance. I believe that Nature (and our nature) is ambiguous, but I will try to convince us both otherwise. 

How were the ancients so adept at nomenclature? Sacrum, sacred. Some believe this holy bone was named so because it was offered in pagan sacrifice: it is the support of reproductive organs—the tangible lifeness. They believed that the soul of man resides there. I agree with them. 

We humans are our bodies: holy and corrupt, beautiful and monstrous.