Busy travel week last week, so nothing new until Friday, July 16th when I will post a column on short cuts and laziness. In the mean time, there is from last year. Seems to be resonating with me all over again. I hope you enjoy it, and thank you for dropping by. roy
Our American lives, as important as we make them out to be, are pretty meaningless the way we tend to live them. All too Americanly, we seek to view, we seek to hear, we seek to touch, taste, and buy all that catches our senses. Then, we seek to display all that we have accomplished on behalf of our sought senses. We perceive mostly, that we should be well perceived, and we spend much of our time pursuing the best possible perception we can gain from our would-be perceivers.
A large part of how we wish to be perceived, is based on the aesthetic we wish to convey. We quaff our hair in unnatural ways with unnatural chemicals, so it can look… natural. We apply manufactured scent to ourselves, as to suggest our own hard-earned smell is not worthy of others. We like to arrive in style – in the car that best suits our personality. We clothe ourselves with style, if not with taste, by wearing what we hope makes us appear smaller, and we seek to live in homes which are much larger than they really need to be. We don’t just love to be seen, we love to be seen well – Americanly well.
On the body front there’s one problem; despite all we do to be well perceived, we are always going to be seen in our own body – there’s just no getting around it. No matter how we adorn it, prep it, clothe it, cover it up, the true condition of the physical self is most always visible, and is likely to be identified by the perceiver for its truest state, and that is likely to be a perception well retained by the perceiver.
Now I spend a good deal of time contemplating where and whether fitness should (or should not) fit in to the American lifestyle. Countless moments spent arguing with myself as to whether exercise and sound eating are truly important in the scope of a life, or do these matter just within the scope of an American life. The only clear answer born of this debate, is that I have classified fitness into two distinct categories; functional fitness and aesthetic fitness. Click here to read more. Most of what goes down in gyms across America relates almost exclusively to aesthetic fitness – which is meaningless.
Now there’s no judgment here – certainly not from me. I am very Americanly when it comes to exercising to maintain a certain look. My vanity is the size of 10 Grinches plus 2, and growing still. I work hard in the gym as well as the kitchen, to look my best to my perceivers, and I’m proud that I’m ahead of the game for pushing 50. But I don’t exercise exclusively to look good. I have a great respect that the path of looking good can be paved with the bricks of functional fitness. I have no illusions or expectations that at 70, I will look like I’m 23. We are designed to get old and decrepit and I embrace that.
I prioritize those exercises which serve functional fitness, and I never put my aesthetic fitness ambitions ahead of my functional fitness ambitions – they coexist. Most of what gets done on behalf of my aesthetic gets done at the dinner table anyway. I understand that exercising for functional fitness can translate well into achieving aesthetic fitness; toning, shaping, and clarifying muscular detail, so long as there is good nutritional support and consistency in the process.
Looking good is an age-old addiction and not exclusively American. However, as we seem to do so often in so many ways, Americans have much more ambition in looking good than those of other countries. I am careful to reflect that, in the end, we will not likely be judged by the shape of our abs or the size of our pants. Stephen Hawking, Mother Theresa, Max Born, Anwar Sadat, Jesus Christ, Mohamed, Moses, and countless other great contributors to humanity have given little thought to how they appeared to their perceivers, and they were certainly not gym rats – nor were they Americans. Did I say Moses? Scratch that one. Be well. rc