When my boyfriend found out that he was going to be moving to Nebraska to get his MFA, his mom said that she would lure me to live with her in Cleveland to ensure that Dennis would visit often. Her plan? Using grilled cheese and cupcakes as bait.
This story reminds me how with every year, I am becoming more of a belly driven person. Lately, when Dennis and I go on trips it is his job to plan hotels and sightseeing while I take care of finding places to eat. When I travel by myself, most of my trips are planned around places to eat and are less about things to see. I had to go to Philadelphia for a conference three years ago. While there, I passed up the Liberty Bell for a tour of Reading Market, Independence Hall for Morimoto Restaurant, and several conference panels for a dim sum quest in Chinatown. I did see the Philadelphia Museum of Art, but I paired the Antique District with a Cuban restaurant.
In acting, one tool that some actors use is something called “Head Heart Gut Groin.” These are objectives that you can assign to a character by looking at their language and using that part of your body to determine acting choices. Hamlet is a “head” character; Romeo a “heart;” Othello a “gut; and, Antony a “groin.” Someone like Falstaff gets to be several and move from “head” to “groin” to “gut” depending on the moment and his goal.
As a teacher, I should be a “head” and in certain times and circumstances, I am. When problems arise, I take them apart from lots of different sides. However, it is my “gut” side, or my intuitiveness and instinctive reaction, that often comes in conflict with my “head.” In picking colleges, I went with the school that felt right, or with my “gut” told me. What is funny is that recently, I also started picking restaurants on not only how the menus look, but also on what my gut says―a gastronomical sixth sense. And, my “gut” has a much better track record then my head.
I think adults need to embrace the value of being a “gut,” thinking about basic needs, natural feeling, and core desire. What I like most about little kids is that they have no fear of their bellies. They walk in a way that pushes bellies out and allows themselves to lead with their tummies. As adults, we are trained to hide bellies. My yoga teacher always has to reassure the class that it is okay in yoga breathing to inflate your stomach and to not be ashamed of watching it swell.
I've decided to embrace being a belly driven person. Dr. Michael Gershon talks about in his book, The Second Brain, that “the brain is not the only place in the body that's full of neurotransmitters . . . .A hundred million neurotransmitters line the length of the gut, approximately the same number that is found in the brain.” In other words, your “gut” is capable of relaying information in the same way your brain does. I think my belly does a lot of good thinking for me. So, next time you are in doubt, go with your gut.