Sunday, February 19, 2012

Not Wasted On The Young

Sometimes on these marvelous lazy weekend mornings when I can wake up when my body wants to, without an alarm piercing a leak into my dreams and murdering my sense of peaceful comfort, I can enjoy the pure simple comforts of being in the bed and having no particular demands on my time. Everything feels delicious, the soft but firm mattress, the numerous loving pillows, the smooth elegant silken sheets, even the soft thickness of the black and gold comforter that has a rich beauty that would have made a Russian Czar envious. But, best of all, is my own body, that as my exploratory fingers stroke across my chest and stomach, and beyond, I am surprised and impressed anew by this internalized feeling of perfect physical beauty.

I am amazed by the lean hardness of my sternum, bracketed by the obvious slopes of evident pectoral muscles, and my lean ribs, rising and lowering in clear relief, and the sudden downward ski slope of my abdomen with its moguls of abs, and there in the center of those muscles is the magnetically sensual indentation of my belly button, surrounded by a rubbery ring; I HAVE this now, instead of…what was there before.

Intrigued, wondering if this looks as good to my eyes as it feels to my fingers, I push the covers down and lift my head for a look at my stretched-out supine self and all of it appears even better than my fingers had imagined. There is, of course, the centerline trail and its lighter splayed out branches as the hair becomes fuller across this flattened valley and instantly I grab what is the centerpiece down there (guarded by the wings of pelvic bones and the lean but strong thighs and long racehorse legs of the long-distance hiker that lie splayed there beyond), the apparent goal of all these pathways, already close to fullness even before I began my squeeze, and I see it rise up rich and thick and tall and fragrant…and gorgeous in all its perfection of size and proportion, not huge, mind you, but way more than adequate, but, more importantly, clearly very beautiful and a very icon of male sexuality.

Within the privacy of my thoughts, I think that I ought to take a picture of this, but I don’t, haven’t, not yet, anyway, if I ever do, but I realize that I do not reject or dismiss or think negatively of the concept, not at all.

A little narcissism is good for the soul, I think.

I have to quote Alice Walker here, on this, “I think it pisses God off if you see the color purple in a field and don’t notice it.” A little noticing of and admiring with appreciation your own color purple is what is called for, here, and it is only a force of evil that leads you to thinking that that is wrong. Where did that come from, anyway? From out of a pit of diabolical darkness, I am sure.

I’m rather intrigued by those guys (and girls do it, too) who photograph their naked selves and even videotape themselves and sext them to their friends or post them on the Internet. Not that I would do that, I am, after all, NOT of the “Internet generation of youth” which is another way of saying that no purpose would come from me doing such a thing and not a soul on earth would be interested in seeing it if I did. Early morning physical self-admiration is one thing, but expecting others to share in that is quite another and I do know better than that. It is quite enough for me to share my thoughts in a reasonably-anonymous forum like this one, but a visual physical sharing is not going to happen with me at my age, now. But if I were, say, twenty-two, yes, indeed. I WOULD.

And I think those who can, SHOULD. Beauty should not be hidden away under a barrel (or some phrase like that), especially for youth who are in a stage or phase where they need to have confidence and social affirmation and be securely centered in their own power as they set off to make their way in the world. Their own body is surely an expression of their own dreams as anyone with half a shred of artistic sense can clearly see by how and what those bodies are communicating.

But for the middle-aged (and older), the fading of those dreams is also on display and in so many ways, it is a very sad pageant of misery. There is the sagging and the bagging and the softening and the fading. There is the thickening middles and the angry dispositions. The frowns and the scowls and the sharp barking orders and admonitions to those very youths whose energy is viewed as an affront against those failures—the nos and the don’ts, that what I think of as the “don’t runs” and the “sit down and shut ups”. Hatred of that which one once had and never appreciated and now doesn’t have and appreciates even less.

BUT.

You CAN have it. Again. Or still.

You just have to know the way.

Way number one: you must not lose the feeling inside you. What you see in the mirror may not be what you remember from decades ago, but keep smiling anyway. Even if you have gotten so out of shape that you avert your eyes from every reflection that stands in your way and mocks you mercilessly, you must still feel an appreciation for beauty that is everywhere, and that you even surprisingly sometimes still feel within you. It COMES from you anyway, even if currently it is only a flickering ember. With the right fanning and oxygenation, that ember can become a roaring furnace again.

Way number two: you must be healthy and you must be discriminatory in how to have that health. Listening to (a) marketers and (b) governments who are in the pocket of marketers are probably not the best people to listen to. They don’t care about you, they only want your money for as long as they can squeeze it out of you. To listen to them and to do what they tell you is to be a special kind of stupid, and I realized sometime back that I didn’t even blame them for what they did; that people let themselves be so lazy and stupid that manipulating them was like taking candy from a baby, so the temptation was too great for this kind of person to not take advantage of. (In this case, it is GIVING candy to a baby.) So, don’t be lazy, don’t be stupid, or what you will end up suffering will be your own fault. You saw the trap, yet you just kept on walking right into it anyway.

Way number three: What makes sense from a natural, ecological, tribal, worked-for-millions-of-years-of-human-evolution point of view? Stand in the doorway of a gas station mini-mart and sweep your eyes across all the shelves of packaged material on offer there. WHAT in there is actually FOOD? Instead, it is all white sugar and white flower combined in a myriad clever forms and shapes. If you were, for example, a Masai warrior, you wouldn’t see that as any more a food store than you would see the gas pumps as water fountains.

Way number four: Be wary of commercial weight-loss programs. For me to better explain this, let me give you an example of something that happened many years ago. I was on a little road trip and had to go to the bathroom. When that happens, I look for a McDonalds, which are plentiful and always have a bathroom. Well, if I am going to take advantage of their bathroom, I feel that I ought to buy something from them, which usually means that I get a cup of coffee. So, on this road trip, I had gone to a McDonald’s bathroom and now was in line behind a woman who was about to place a food order. For some reason, I just KNEW that she was a member of Weight Watchers. She wasn’t “fat”, mind you, in fact, I figured she had reached her goal weight. The SCALE was reporting back to her a poundage number that had positive meaning to her, so she had successfully achieved this thing, she was now weighing an acceptable weight for her height and age.

She then placed her order and I knew enough of how the Weight Watchers program worked, so I heard myself say to her, “You just ordered a perfect Weight Watcher’s meal,” and I reported to her how many “points” that meal was. She smiled back at me, very happily, and said, “Yes, I am a Lifetime Member of Weight Watchers!” I said back to her, “Congratulations, a job well done!”

I got my coffee and got back into my car and resumed my road trip. But I was thinking about that woman and wondered HOW I so accurately knew that she was a member of Weight Watchers. As I said, she clearly wasn’t “fat”, and, as she confirmed for me, she was even a Lifetime Member (that’s actually a scary phrase if you really think about it, and very telling), which means that she had reached her goal weight, maintained it for six weeks of maintenance, and from now on can attend as many Weight Watchers meetings as she wants and never will have to pay anything so long as she stays within two pounds of her goal weight and continues to attend meetings at a certain frequency (the actual number of which I forget…one a week, maybe?). So, she was a SUCCESS as far as that program goes. And Weight Watchers is generally considered the most successful of all the commercial weight loss programs.

So, with her having achieved that success, shouldn’t she look like, say, Audrey Hepburn? I mean, if a total stranger can simply take a glance at her and think “she is a member of Weight Watchers”, then something must be wrong. A stranger should be able to look at her and never have the slightest clue that she had ever been overweight. One would hope that having once suffered obesity would not leave an indelible footprint.

The clues that led me to see her as a Weight Watchers success are myriad and subtle and I can only think that while she weighed a lot less, her body somehow still must have retained the “shape” and ratio/proportions of an overweight person. And believe me, we humans are GENIUSES at instantly making all these body proportion calculations in our mind, it seems to be hard-wired within us so that even at a huge distance, we can immediately see if that person up ahead has a beautiful body or not, and even babies can do it.

I still get cues and clues as to that with my own person. When I moved back down through the pounds to the weight loss success that I have had, I went beyond even the smallest clothes that I had retained, which means that I am now leaner and more muscular than I was when I was a freshmen in college and hadn’t a thought in the world of ever being overweight. I had to buy new clothes and needed to have my shirt and pants size measured. But the measurements by a sales clerk at Macy’s, while close, were not entirely accurate. She measured my shirt size as neck 15 ½, sleeve 32-33, and pants waist size 34, inseam 30. I didn’t try on the shirts (so packaged and pinned-up as they are), and the pants SEEMED more or less okay when I tried them on. So I bought several shirts and pants.

However, actually experiencing the wearing of them, I soon enough realized that shirts sized 15 neck, 34-35 sleeves and pants waist size 33, inseam 32, would be better, and so I bought some of those.

Then I noticed that whenever I wore any of the 15 ½ x 32-33 shirts, or the 34 x 30 pants, if I got complements at all, it would be on the color combination of the clothes, but whenever I wore any of the 15 x 33-34 shirts AND the 33 x 32 pants, I not only ALWAYS get complements, I also keep hearing about how surprisingly thin (or tall) I am (so that my 6 feet ½ inch height seems to be perceived more like 6’2” or more). There’s not all that huge of a difference between those two shirt or pants sizes, and, frankly, either one of them is pretty damned good for a man of my age, but essentially what is happening between the two combinations is that the ones that get definite complements are ONE INCH less wide and TWO INCHES longer. Somehow, people just instantly see that as an immensely important difference in a person's appearance.

And now, currently, I am wearing the “lean” or “slim” cut of those smaller sizes, and I can now wear 32” waist pants, so now the gushing never ends (which, I freely admit, I really do enjoy). I can’t make myself any taller, and with a single-digit fat percentage, I can’t really lose much more weight, but I do see that I am probably just one more pant size away from male fashion model dimensions, which might be worth achieving, if possible. Also, I do think it would now be worth it to get custom-sized clothing, now that I see how much difference these tiny changes in sizing make toward the perception of ones body dimensions.

All of which is to say that a person doesn’t have to end up with that “Weight Watcher’s body”, but that it is actually possible to transform a body back to what it is supposed to be.

I have a body composition monitor that provides me with several other measurements, one of which is an estimation of my “metabolic” age (based on fat, lean body mass, bone mass, and other measurements), which in my case now fluctuates around among the various TEEN years, which, incidentally, seems to also be backed up by what my blood test shows about my testosterone level, which used to be so low that I was supplementing it with biodentical hormone therapy, but now is a good reading for even a man in his prime.

So, for all VERIFIABLE measurements and methods, miraculously, I am now actually physically “young”, that is to say, “a youth”, without actually being a youth. How fantastic is that? To actually have at this point of life, again, what was once had in the prime physical years, but at a time when I can really appreciate it, is totally delightful.

So leave me to my early-morning self-admiration, not diminished when get up and see my smiling self, naked in a mirror. What I am enjoying IS available for all of us, no matter what our age, and I am simply the happy proof of that.