Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Old and Fat

So, I'll admit it. I've been feeling old. I've been struggling with the changes in my mental perspective (I'm more cynical and jaded than I used to be) and with my body (I've been sitting at a desk since August, drinking Coke non-stop). For 8 years I walked to school and walked around school and climbed billions of stairs and went on epic walks with lovers and friends. The last epic walk I went on was in September, with Stoker, who stoked my fire with his walking endurance and conversation. Now I hope to go on many epic walks with him, but in the meantime, Coke and sedentary 8-hour days have replaced the 8 years of being the walking woman. Finally, I know what love handles are -- intimate knowledge I could have gone 80 years without (okay, enough of the clever 8 thing). Love handles I lovingly refer to as bastards. My preferred term for anything and everything from bastard-drivers cutting me off in traffic, to the collective bastards otherwise known as The Media -- that nameless entity with enough cultural-capital to make Solomon blush.

So anyway, I've been feeling old and fat. Even though I'm not actually fat. I know. I just feel fat (last I checked I weighed 125, at 5'5). I sit around most of the day and have to take breaks to go down the stairs and then back up just to get some daily exercise. I try to work out 3 times a week, but often only get to it twice. I used to be lean. I rock climbed indoors and outdoors regularly. I used to be more athletic and tough.

About a month or so ago, my mom teased me (lovingly. An observation, not a criticism) that I'm turning into a woman. My butt is getting rounder, she said. I scorned that phrase, turning into a woman. I sneered in derision, after my shoulders slumped in defeat. I don't want to be a "woman." I want to be a girl. I've been just a girl for so long. Small. Petite. I've liked that a lot. Enjoyed being what I was. It's not about the type and development of my reproductive system. That's not what I'm protesting. I'm protesting this bastard-sedentary lifestyle that's turning the Coke calories into potential energy (and good luck ever tapping that energy), instead of beautiful kinetic energy. I want to be free and moving, liberated, for 8 hours a day*. Not kept in a cage nicknamed a "cubicle," sort of trapped. Sure, the money sets me free in another way and it's great to have it, but sometimes I feel the boundaries pressing in on me. I see the results in the flab on my once beautiful six-packed stomach.

The real point of all this was to share something I found in Utah Health magazine, under the title of "Celebrate the blessings of age." Ironically, the facing page was an advertisement for plastic/cosmetic surgery (for the following areas: breast enlargement, eyelid rejuvenation, facelift, forehead lift, tummy tuck, botox injections, collagen for your thin, lifeless lips, and collagen for facial lines and creases. "You can choose to perfect and refine whatever is making you feel self-conscious or unhappy."). A very well-placed ad, reinforcing the blessing of age.

The quote, for all you bitter, jaded 26+ers like me (my comments in brackets):

"Who says you can only bloom once in life? With each advancing year a whole new life opens before you. Recognize it and enjoy it. With age comes an inner, higher life and sense of purpose. You may try by starting each day with 60-seconds of self-apprecation [I'm smart enough]. Try standing in front of your mirror [I'm good enough]. Smile. Like yourself [And doggone it, people like me]. Examine each wrinkle, smile line, spot and dot [cancerous and non-cancerous] on your face, and see them as marks of wisdom, happiness, [not wearing sunblock] and a life richly lived. Also, release your inner child today. Do something playful [but not criminal]. Try on clothes you'd never wear in public [but don't go OUT in them.] Experiment with makeup [or just forget about makeup altogether]. Sing your favorite tune loudly in the shower. Go for a long bike ride. Go for it."

There it is. I actually like it, even though it seems like I'm making fun of it. Now, go for a long bike ride.

*Here's another contention: what bastard decided we, the American people, should work 8 hours of our day? We only have 24, and 8 of that should be spent sleeping. So thanks, thanks a lot for that measly 8 I'm left with, which isn't really 8 since 1 should be spent at lunch. And if you commute, about 1-2 are spent driving. Does that leave us enough time for nuturing our families and other relationships? 5 to 6 hours to do anything else. I'm proposing a swift change: 6 hours should be considered the new full time. Thank you very much.


Stoker said...

It's been done. What has come of it? There are definitely some mixed feelings about it, from a strictly objective, numerical point of view. But I would be happy to work less, and have more time for myself.

Sadly, I don't think this is happening anytime soon. I think that most people who find themselves getting older try to fight it for a while. But, inevitably, reality doesn't take too long to beat down the once vivacious and lively. People generally get more conservative and less active as they age. It's not something to be feared or avoided. I think the important thing is to be able to look at yourself, where you are, decide if you're willing to live with it, and if you are, make the best of it. If you aren't, change something. If it isn't worth the risk, then you may as well not waste any more energy worrying. Of course, worrying may increase your heart rate, thus burning calories and helping to get rid of the ever-present bastards.

Stoker said...

The link didn't work the first time I don't think. Here it is.

Aries327 said...

I read that article. Thanks. I think I'm getting better at being okay with growing old. Everyone does. And I was just thinking about how it's good to have friends who are older, like Jason, who turned 27 in January, paving the way for me. He'll always be older than me. Thankfully.

And as for the Forbes article, doesn't it prove that industrialized countries who take more time for leisure are more productive? You'd think with statistical evidence, employers would be in favor of required, extended vacation and shorter work days.

Jim said...

You are so funny! You've got to find a job that includes lots of field work. I think I'm gonna be a Nat'l Geographic photographer when I grow up, just for the inherent exercise benefits.