After a year of not working out, I am now working out. It is not so much out of vanity rather than cheapness. I hate that I have pants I cannot fit into right now, and I refuse to buy more work clothes once school starts. Clothes buying feels too much like buy now and then throw away. Garbage in, garbage out. I have that fast-fashion mindset having come of age in the time of H&M and Forever21.
I also realize that I no longer care about fashion as I did when I was younger. I suppose admitting to this is somehow admitting to giving up in life. But I don’t see it that way at all. When I cared about fashion, it wasn’t for me. It was for other people. I was trying to look effortful for work or for dating or to make a cool statement, but now, and it’s a relief to say this, I just don’t care. Give me comfy pants or shorts and a tee any day.
Getting to the end of the school year was tough. I could not get on top of my grading for the last two months, and I stress ate because the feat felt so impossible. I missed out on a gathering with my fellow teaching friends, and I drank so much soda and bubbly water that my teeth ached. But now I am rewarded with summer, and it has been the sweetest feeling ever. Sure, I’ve birthed a baby, I’ve had a wedding full of so much love, but nothing compares to that summer after a year of teaching.
My watch also tells me how many calories I have burned during a workout. I’m trying not to turn into Exercise Queen (imagine an 80s fitness goddess like Jane Fonda with shiny spandex, pastel headband, and blonde permed hair with bangs) because…because…what is the point? But those numbers can become a quick obsession.
I was thinking about this with the tallying and recording culture I feel that surrounds me. I have started reading again, a whole joy unto itself. But I do record what I’ve read in Goodreads, and I dislike how it motivates me. Here is an example: when deciding which book to choose, I want to choose the book I can finish quickly so that I can record that I’ve read another book. Hence, I’ve been reading a lot of graphic novels.
That’s probably not entirely true. I also am reading graphic novels because it is easy access back into reading. I find that there is a flow to reading, and when I haven’t read in awhile, I like to start out with really fun books like graphic novels and essays/memoirs by comedians. Then I ease myself into more serious books. And then to go on another tangent, I started reading Sally Rooney’s Normal People on our way to Legoland, and I couldn’t put that book down. I couldn’t even socialize or interact with people because my mind kept drifting back to that book. And I loved it, I loved the ending. It was so satisfying to read.
The other tangent is this. I thought after a year of being absent socially that what I would want to do most was meet up with friends. I do want to do these things, and I do enjoy these things, but I guess my realization is that my honest to God first love will always be reading. Books. Give me a pile of books and then people I love around me, and I’m just a happy camper.
But to go back to what I was talking with the tallying and recording of things. To live in a culture where it does feel quantity over quality. To now have this watch that tells me how many calories I burned when before it was just a nebulous kind of idea. I used to not even know precisely how far I’d ran or walked. And to be motivated by this little ticking watch that tells me how fast my miles are, how many calories I’ve burned, and to be able to compare that to yesterday. And the comparing and the push to do better each day, to read more books because they’re getting recorded on a website, and…STOP.
The tools should be helpful to me, the tools should not run my life aka my motivation. I walked/ran without music today just because I always feel so plugged in, and I wanted to know what it feels like to be in my body. I ran slower today than I did the day before, but I felt more conscious. It somehow felt better.
And I know the next book I need to read. Reading will take me awhile, and I probably won’t be able to fill my goodreads with the new books I’ve read, but it’s the right choice. It’s the soulful, spiritual right choice.
There are the should-do’s and there are the want-to’s. Too many should-do’s and I do nothing. I drown in the should-do’s. Make room for the want-to’s and life feels lighter somehow.