There are a couple of people in my neighbourhood who don special outfits to go walking or running or cycling—bodysuits, skinny tops, colour-coordinated shoes and shorts and shades. I’m torn between thinking they’re making a bit of exercise way too complicated, and envying their whole dashing I-take-every-damn-thing-I-do-seriously “look”.
I”m aware, of course, that there’s a multi-trillion dollar industry behind The Look—possibly men, possibly unfit—wielding extraordinary powers, convincing folk they need accoutrements to be fit. Even so, it doesn’t stop me occasionally thinking maybe I should get some spandex of my own, a tank top with wicking, one of those all-weather jackets that comes to a saucy little point at the back. A pedometre, a headband. I’d wear a water-bottle-belt (say that three times), read running magazines, get reflecting tape, strap a radio to my arm and groove to the beat as I thundered dashingly about town.
If people still groove to beats, that is…
It’s a colourful fantasy. Short-lived though. Fact is, I’d laugh if I wore spandex—it would crack me right up to see myself in The Correct Walking Outfit. This is for Other People. Not me. Despite illusions of being part of the active-wear set, the whole culture is counterintuitive to my DNA. Always was. As a kid I tried out for things, field hockey, for instance; I was so proud of my shin pads, walked around with them strung over my shoulder even when there wasn’t practice, hoping people would notice that I was an athlete. First time on the field though, when some big girl shoved me—which I didn’t know was part of the game—I found it so alarming I handed my pads in right then and there. My parents signed me up for tennis lessons one summer but I preferred cherry popsicles and comics in the shade of a nearby tree. The instructor didn’t care, he’d been paid whether I played or not. I was the last kid picked for the baseball team and I kind of liked it that way. More time for hopscotch and skipping and walking in ditches after it rained.
I’m not made for organized activity. I’m made for writing postcards and taking them to the mailbox in my regular shoes, which are often sandals. And riding my bike to the grocery store and the library. I walk downtown and to the creek and along the beach, and I watch things—the way tall grass moves in the wind, geese land on water, a kid with a silver tinsel wig runs to catch up with friends. I hike and I cross-country and snowshoe in winter. I jump on a trampoline to work out plot points. I swim as a meditation. I work in the garden because it needs it, and so do I, and do yoga daily to bring myself back to the centre of my own life. I wash floors and windows and sort out closets because order helps me think. Sometimes before lunch, I dance.