Thursday, May 15, 2008

old bike guy, the ego, and the bliss

My daughter and I were taking the puppy for a walk yesterday when I saw the old guy on his bike. Every morning and evening if you stay outside long enough you'll see him - a white haired man flying down the road with the flaps of his unbuttoned shirt flying behind him, exposing a tanned, sagging, sporadically long-haired chest. Last night he passed us the way he always does, first looking determined at the road and then turning to us, as if just noticing us out of the corner of his eye, like he hadn't seen us walking that way from further down the street, and saying, "Evening!" I thought about taking the opportunity to warn my eight year old about creepy guys like this, but I hesitated for two reasons. One, because between me and Chris (my husband), warn her about that kind of thing often enough that I fear soon she will hop on the back of the next old guy's bike she sees and pedal away just to escape the constant lectures of neurotic parents. And two, because I can't tell if that guy is really a pervert or not.

It's the open shirt, I think, that makes me suspicious. An unbuttoned shirt suggests undress; it's a tease. I've only seen this guy fully dressed once in the winter. He wore biker shorts and a windbreaker, and he glared straight ahead of him, gritting his teeth. I imagined that he was fighting the desire to rip open his jacket and his shirt like a senile Incredible Hulk. At this point I should probably clarify that I don't sit on my front lawn waiting for this guy to ride by. I just have an annoying habit of noticing things like this and thinking too much about them. I guess it's unfair of me to assume he's funky without proof. It's not like he rides past and says, "Heeeeeey, baby." Who knows, maybe he just likes the feel of the breeze against his chest and, like my five year old son, doesn't understand why the world won't allow him to walk around half naked because it feels good.

I think I'm just the opposite, so self conscious about the way I look that I wear over sized T-shirts to hide my slightly bulging stomach. Were I more like bare-chested bicycle man I would have strolled into my yoga class on Sunday unashamed of how my clothes showed what I thought to be my sloppy figure. It didn't matter that most of the women in class weren't flat-bellied, tiny things with arms and legs like angel hair noodles. They were mostly average looking, except for one lady who had hair like a frayed hemp rope gathered in a pony tail on the top of her head. But yoga isn't supposed to be about the way you look, right?

"It's not about that competitive crap," my groovy Aunt Anne told me recently. "It's about your spirit. You change from the inside out, man. And I don't mean your mind, it's beyond your mind. All those thoughts aren't you. The ego can corrupt what's really you."

I would like to say that I'm 100% concerned with the inner me, but the truth is I want to be hot. Not just attractive, but smoking. I want people to look at me and wonder if I can open jars with my thighs. It took me a long time to finally admit this to myself. Because now that I've admitted that I'm an egotistical bastard, I would like to be delivered of it. I don't want to spend all this time worrying about what people think when they look at me, and I think that Chris would appreciate it if people did NOT see me as a human jar opener. Unfortunately, I'm one of those women who only feels ok about the way I look if someone tells me I look alright. And even if Chris tells me I'm pretty and thin or whatever, I find that I'm never truly satisfied with his response. It's like there's a streak of doubt that colors everything in my head and I can't see myself right no matter what I wear or what angle I look at myself in the mirror.

So I've decided that what I really want to do is something that I've been wanting to do since I hit puberty. I want to like the way I look, and not worry so much about what everybody thinks of me. I want to be like that old guy on the bike, assuming that he just rides with his shirt wide open because it feels nice and genuinely doesn't give a damn if people are exposed to his sunken chest and hairy, spotty stomach. Ok, maybe he's not a good comparison. But you know what I mean. I want to be what my yoga instructor calls "a living expression of bliss." Bliss for no reason at all. I've been depressed for no reason at all countless times, so why not experience the opposite? And I want to ask my instructor what she means when she says stuff like, "Look up with soft eyes," and "allow your hips to release." Release what? If I remember that bone song correctly, my hips are connected to important stuff that need to stay right where they are and release nothing. And how exactly do I relax my eyes? Why doesn't she just say, "And now, seize control of your involuntary muscles. Let your eyeballs roll out of your roll them back up."

But mostly I want to stop myself from thinking so much. It's important to think, but there comes a point where I can sicken my mind with over thinking, much like how a person can replenish yet sicken themselves with pastaroni if eaten to excess.

Speaking of which, I've written this post to excess. Join me next time when I try to figure out my neighbor who has lived down the street for me for five years, but I only seen her when she goes outside to feed her rottweilers. SHE NEVER LEAVES THE HOUSE. Where does she get the dog food? And why does she have those bars on the windows? Are the dogs her minions or is it the other way around? And how much time do I actually spend wondering about my neighbors? Am I one of those suburbanites? Oh my, yes.

1 comment:

biggearhead said...

"The ego can corrupt what's really you."

Duh-duh-DUH! (Dramatic music.) That is so right on. Stupid ego. When I figured that out I traded mine for a used carburetor. The carb seems to work pretty well, and I don't have to keep polishing that stupid ego any more.