I looked down at my legs as I was running the other day (four times in one week – how’s that for exercise? My oncologist always asks if I’m still running and how much? So I’m convinced it wards off evil cells, because goodness knows no athletes ever get cancer) and was pleased to see that my legs looked quite solid.
Last year I’d noticed that they seemed kind of jiggly, or loose. Not the whole leg really, just the skin. It had a mind of its own, moving up and down while I moved forward. Ever since shorts season started this year things have improved.
It gave me a vanity-fueled burst of speed and energy. Mid-fifties. Not bad. I ran on a few minutes and burst out laughing (not crying – this is progress) when I realized it had nothing to do with my legs and all the running, it had to do with my eyes and all the aging. I just couldn’t see the fucking jiggles.
In the same way that God or whoever, makes babies and toddlers adorable so you don’t kill them, we middle-agers (ok close to seniors) are given deteriorating eyesight, so as not to witness certain alarming truths with any clarity.
I recently watched a video of Australian Taryn Brumfitt, who founded the Body Image Movement. Post-baby she hated her blobby body, often wouldn’t go out and treated herself to crying and disparaging remarks in front of the mirror. (Weirdly cow is always a favorite. I love cows and yet have called myself cow too often.)
Brumfitt starts working out and becomes a competitive body builder. And guess what? She doesn’t feel any better about herself. So she lets herself go to pot again (just kidding – inside, unfeminist voice). I mean she drops the crazy time-sucking obsession and gets a little desperately needed healthy perspective. Maybe spending time with her kid and husband, enjoying life and not lifting everything heavy in sight is a better way to live. Balance. Then she posts before and after pics of herself that go viral. The before pic is toned and buff, the after pic is naked, beautiful, zaftig (as we say in Yiddish as a compliment) and radiant. This is how happy is meant to look, she seems to say.
As I’m aging and gravity fucks with my head as much as with my body, the race (lifelong war with myself – one of us is always losing and that would be me) to get back to something I imagine I was then, but didn’t think so at the time, (like firm or smooth or just fine), is futile, absurd and not remotely useful. There was no then, then.
A perfect (mammoth) challenge to being in the now – wave kindly goodbye to then, don’t even bother with when? I’m making a plan to view things differently. (Not just blurry.) I’m shifting the focus. Dancing is my new metaphor. I love dancing – always have. I don’t do it enough, but if there’s music I like, anywhere, I start to move. Ask my kids, I’ve embarrassed them a million times, often while driving.
I’ve decided that all the wiggly and jiggly bits of me – I won’t list them, but they include my arms (the kids like to point out that they flap - bingo wings) are, like me, merely dancing along to the beat, dancing along to life, and if that happens to be up and down or in circles when the rest of me is moving forward (or often backward) so be it.
Full disclosure: Before you get too inspired, I admit that while cheering on (light clapping) my new dance moves, I’m on a sugar hiatus (a diet disguised as a health kick – I really love those green shorts and they don’t fit).