Vanity, Gravity, and Maturity
Half-way through my 45th year, there is really no more hiding from it: this is Middle Age. It appeared all of a sudden ~ one day I noticed, with horror, that my body has gone AWOL. These thighs are not my thighs. These triceps never did this before. This belly? Not mine. It’s not like that day 15 or 20 years ago when I found a stranger’s calf beneath my razor. I’d been working out more and gained a muscle definition. Fab! No, not like that at all. There are . . . textures which repulse me. Old lady lumps. Sure, clothes still hide it and my weight is satisfactory, but stuff is changing.
Some of it is certainly due to 6 months of nearly non-stop travel, eating all the wonderful otherness to be had, and lacking regular, rigorous exercise. Yes, I’m working on it ~one more big trip to go and it won’t be as culinarily tempting as, say, southeast Asia was (how did I manage to eat 3 big meals every day for 3 weeks?)~ but I’m afraid. Afraid of gravity and genes and entropy. Every year it’s been a little more effort to maintain zero-tolerance, to stay the same size as in college. But there are new forces at work now. Even Buns o’ Steel will look like a quilt when skin loses its elasticity and that cellulite structure lurking underneath begins to show. Yes, some people are just made that way.
But it is a matter of degrees, right? I can fight it. The less filling in the quilt, the less pouffy it will look. Still, these bodies of ours don’t last forever. They wear out. We use them up. How hard do we fight for them? What is worth fighting for and what is just the way it goes? And what really matters?
Right. A little hail damage on the derriere won’t shorten anyone’s lifespan. It just makes me feel ugly… and old… and past some point of no return. Society judges appearance so harshly. Nobody can see my strong heart or how clean my arteries are. For all the amazing things this body can do, the mirror seems to have the final say: you are worth less now than before. Of course I have to choose to believe it, but it has reinforcements everywhere.
Except where it really counts! The most important person in my life says, Just keep going and doing and being able to come out and play with me. (Thank you)
It’s a big leap ~or a long road~ away from the vanity of youth. It is also more work every day to keep everything functioning and feeling okay. Changes; yes, it is time to make changes, not just watch them happen. Stop looking in the mirror. It will never be how it was. Take care of the machine underneath this beat up old wrapper. Value what it can do ! Then I will look my best: a happy smile, a healthy glow, and the serenity of being comfortable in my own skin, whatever its condition.