Well, it’s coming.That big-ass birthday I’ve been moaning about for the last five years. As of October 1, 2017, I will be a 40-year-old man.
It seem really, really appropriate to do a post in this section of my website, Fit by Forty, because so many of the things I’ve set out to accomplish by the age of two score have changed, adapted, and been altered from where I started out.
I’m not “fit.” At least not the way I thought I’d be at this point.
I’m not the skinny, waif-like, running junkie that I thought I’d be. Nor am I the beastly badger that I also tried to become. I was really, really chucked to the ground a couple of years ago with a knee injury, and have been calling on that moment in time as my greatest excuse for getting pudgy with abandon. The fact is, I got angry, depressed, and really really sad about my life, and tried to eat my way through it all. I inflicted most of it on myself, and now, while I’m not where I thought I’d be physically, I’ve seemingly figured out that crashing my diet, crashing my body, and crashing my mind does me no good. It’s taken twenty years of my life – since my first real round of depression and a massive eating disorder – to come around to where I am right now. I will never be that model on Tumblr or Instagram. I’ll never turn heads at the bar or club, or just walking down the street. I might not ever fit a shirt “just so.” I’ve made my peace with that, mostly.
Instead, I’m just a dude who shows up at his gym, typically every other day, does his daily grind of about an hour and a half, and gets on with his life. I have a regimen of eating that I stick to during my workweek (mostly protein, some carbs, measured amounts of fat), and I give myself a day and a half or so of not tracking my food, per week, so that I might not feel trapped and controlled by external expectations of myself. I aim to drink about two liters of water a day. I stay clear of the processed things in this world.
I am stronger than I was about three months ago, when I renewed my commitment to the gym and signed up for the place just across the street from where we live. I feel confident that I can tackle any hike or path put before me. I’m an able-bodied adult male. Perhaps this, in essence, is fitness. It’s the capability of feeling unhindered by my own body to go and see and do.
I’m back to my memoir with a vengeance, after a year or so with my writing group here in Portland. It’s taking on a much better dimension in this draft (what, my 7th one?) and I’m finding a voice that has been lacking for the years I’ve been dealing with the story. I’m not ashamed of who I’ve been anymore. I am filling in gaps in the storyline and putting my narrator (me) front-and-center in a lot of the story now. There’s a humor, a darkness, an acceptance of the mistakes, that has liberated my words on the page in a way that I never thought I’d be strong enough to do. I keep at this project because it’s a story that I still feel needs to be told. This new approach, one that spans my previous twenty years, will matter. I can feel it in my bones, creaky though they might be becoming.
Ray and I are doing quite well as a couple. We are still settling into a new rhythm at our new place, with my going full-time at work, and him making strides to transition more completely away from the wine bar and off to the winery he’s found himself at as of late. It’s taxing on us, though, this time spent focused on work and such, because we haven’t really had much of a summer this year. We can’t seem to find enough hours in the week to just be, and while it’s not forever, it’s certainly not easy. Still, at the heart of all of this, is a real sense of the foundation and bedrock of a relationship that he and I have crafted over the last three years. I believe in us. He believes in us. This current strain won’t be forever, and we both know it. There are still so many hugs and cuddles between us, in the darkness of night when we’re both so exhausted, that I remain filled with optimism and joy about all that we are. This is the best relationship I’ve ever been in, and I know it. I truly feel like the same can be said for him. Again, I think maybe this is part of what “fit by forty” might actually look like.
I finally decided to follow my guts and withdraw from my course of study, too. With the work hours piling up, and the realization that I can’t simply keep going back to school in order to find fulfillment and purpose in my life, I’ve finally ended my time as a student (sure, there’s always room for that in the future, but not right now), and have made the conscious decision to dive deeper into the things I am doing now that enhance my life. I do have a good, well-paid job. I do have a retirement savings account. I do have money for my bills and a little left over for the fun stuff. We’ve got a solid roof over our heads, and the potential for growth here in the Pacific Northwest still. My urge towards flight, towards picking up stakes and moving again, has waned – something I never thought would happen – and the reasons for keeping my head in the classroom just stopped adding up. Now, as autumn is upon us, I’m not feeling that existential dread and anxiety that I’ve grown so accustomed to with the start of the school year. I just feel like it’s the turning of a season, and I relish these times of years. Fall/Spring are my favorite seasons because they are often tumultuous. Patterns, colors, scents, winds all change and this year, instead of being stuck in my head about everything, I’m going to do my best to enjoy it. This will be a first in about two-score years. It’s another move towards “fitness,” as far as I can tell.
I think my definition of Fitness and what being Fit by Forty means has come a very, very long way.