My body is merely the shell of my soul
But the flesh must be given its due
Like a pony that carries its rider back home
Like an old friend that's tried and been true.
Eagles and Horses, John Denver 1990
In our society, we are at war with our bodies.
We're never content with how they look. They're too fat, to thin, too tall, too top-heavy; our hair is wrong, our eyebrows too thin, our noses too long or too crooked. Our skin is the wrong color.
On top of that, we don't trust our bodies. We're live in constant fear that they are going to threaten us with some illness or infirmity that we cannot possibly accept as...the natural way of things. Our bodies are out to get us; we must monitor them diligently to make sure they don't get the upper hand in the struggle.
I'm not getting any younger, and over the past five or six years, it's been disconcerting to begin to understand that my body has and will continue to undergo age-related changes for which I am not particularly prepared. My mind does not feel old...other than the fact that my head contains a stack of memories nearly six decades high. So when I glance down and see my mother's wrinkled hands attached to the ends of my arms, or when I have a hard time recognizing the sexagenarian face looking back at me from the mirror, I get this sense that...."Oh my god. I really am getting old!"
A little over a week ago, I made the decision to get serious about losing weight and getting fit, after a largely sedentary and over-indulgent winter. But it's not because I want to look younger, or battle the aging process, or somehow keep my body from betraying me into an early grave.
Rather, I've realized I need to be kind to my body. I need to give it every opportunity to carry me forward as many years as we can go on together. I need to feed it better food. I need to keep it active... it tells me regularly that it does not like a sedentary lifestyle. I have always had an overabundance of kinetic energy keeping me upright and moving; and sixty years in is a bad time to decide to allow the machinery to grind to a halt and get rusty.
So I'm moving, I'm putting better feed into the trough, and I'm trying to set my course toward beautiful things (which hasn't been easy this rainy, cold, dreary winter.)
And maybe this old pony will carry me on for a few more decades.