Creating a New You

Today was planned for an early morning strength workout and a 2000 yard swim. Squeezed in somewhere were the requirements to write a briefing for one of my three bosses before noon, plow through 90 back logged emails, pack, check out of the hotel, and fly home to Little Rock.

The alarm fired off at 5:45 for my strength workout. I suppose I could have planned the swim at 5:45, but I think the water might have been a little chilly. My plan was to go to work relatively early, go back to the hotel at “lunch” to swim, and then head to the airport.

My old age and weakness are showing. Joe Friel would hang his head in shame. For the second time this week, I failed to muster the energy and initiative to hit the weight room at 5:45 a.m. I know I can do it, because I’ve done it before. But this week has been pretty exhausting, and I judged the extra 30 minutes of sleep to be of greater value than a half-hearted workout.

Other than that, the plan worked. I made it through the priority emails (I’ll answer or delete the rest on the flight home), finished the briefing, and cleaned up a few more loose ends before heading back to the hotel for the swim. If the stars were perfectly aligned, the pool would be empty.

Stellar collision… A family playing in the pool, and one other guest floating around. Literally floating. Not swimming, not splashing, just floating. Oh, well, this is my last chance for a swim this week, so we’re sharin this pool! I tried to be as unobtrusive as I could, meandering left and right to avoid the others, but I was getting this swim done. Eventually, they got the hint and got out of my pool. No, really, I felt awkward about crashing their party. But I learned a while back that if you wait for an empty pool, the only laps you get are the ones formed when you sit down to wait.

Swim is done, checked out of the hotel, checked in for the flight, and waiting at the gate. There is a woman sitting across from me who was once probably very attractive. I say that not because she was “advanced in years”, but because she had so morphed her body that I doubt her own mother would have recognized her. Her hair was candy apple red, and ironing board stiff. Besides the multiple piercings at various head locations, she had on fake eyelashes that would put a feather duster to shame. To top it all off, her arms and legs were covered with tattoos.

Now, before I take too many body blows for being critical or judgmental, I’m really not trying to go there. None of those things makes the lady a “bad person”, or even less of a lady. They are a form of self-expression, and it’s every person’s choice to express themselves in the way they see fit. But I wonder what it was that made this particular woman so dislike who she was that she turned herself into someone else completely.

A desire to change who we are isn’t a bad thing. If I hadn’t been dissatisfied with who I was four years ago, I would never have discovered new interests in cycling, swimming, and running. I would never have shed the feeling of embarrassment every time I looked in the mirror or saw a picture of myself from the past 5 years. I would have completely forgotten what it was like to be satisfied with the way I feel about myself, even though I’ve still got a roll around my middle and love handles (they are really hard to get rid of at my age). I would not have remembered how good it feels to accomplish something that wasn’t possible a year ago, and know that there are more victories ahead if I just keep trying. But a desire to turn yourself into something that you could never have become naturally seems… well, just a little off. I don’t know where you draw the line, but it seems like there should be one.

In some way, we are all trying to create ourselves. It is possibly our most noble aspiration; to become the person that we have the potential to be. I can’t help feeling, though, that looking for that person in a bottle of bright red hair dye, or a tattoo parlor, or a even a starvation diet or bottle of steroids, seems to miss the mark. Maybe it’s just me, and perhaps it’s just another sign that I’m getting old. Whatever the motivation of the lady in the airport, I hope that the person she created is the one she was looking for. And if not, then I hope she still has the courage to change. Or, ultimately, comes to accept herself for who she is meant to be. Come to think of it, I hope the same for me.

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One Response to Creating a New You

  1. elisariva says:

    First – glad you got the swim in! Who knows, the floaters may be inspired to exercise next time. As for changing – the source of motivation drives the action. Usually when it comes from within, then the change is to better ones self – diet, exercise, education. When it is to impress someone, rebel against someone, or just be noticed – the change usually is cosmetic or short lived. But you phrased it well – what ever the motivation, the hope is she has become the person she wants to be.

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