Alright, yeah, I kind of faked you out. I have no interest in formatting this as though it were a story.
But I guess I’ll begin with an anecdote.
When I was a kid, I loved (and STILL love) Saul Bellow’s book, Henderson The Rain King. If you’re a Counting Crows fan, take note: they wrote that song about that book! In the book, the protagonist — Henderson — feels frustrated at all the things he has not yet become or accomplished in his life. “Time to burst the spirit’s sleep!” he shouts. “I am tired of becoming! I want to BE!” He then rants awhile about how the world is made up of two types of people — be-ers and become-ers. He wants to be the former, but fears he’s wasted too much time “becoming.”
I hear that, Henderson.
There’s something to be said for creating yourself. Also, for just being whoever you are. Also, for the process that creation requires.
Recently, I remarked to Chelsea than in another twenty lbs or so (down 17 since January, looking to be down a total of 30 more) I’ll “look the part” of a runner more. Right now, my saying I go on 5 mile runs and the body that does those runs doesn’t really match — to me. I know it’s not a really factual experience of the world. But I feel like I am “becoming,” instead of just being.
It occurred to me this morning that by running at all, I am BE-ing a runner. Already, I have fashioned myself into a runner. I might not be as thin or as fast as I want, but if running five days a week doesn’t make you a runner, what does?
And so, there’s a little corner of my life where I AM.
Of course, it was a process to get here, wasn’t it? There were 9 full weeks of Couch to 5K. Lots of time agonizing over the scale. New workout clothes. Better-fitting-old-workout-clothes.
The bottom line, though — the “who I AM” part of it all — wasn’t an evolution, really, when it comes down to it.
The day I committed to running 5 days a week with no excuses, I stopped “becoming” and started to “be” someone who runs.
OKAY OKAY. This is starting to get very “meta” ( #someta, as one of my best friends, Susanna, might say).
I don’t mean for it to be. I do have a point!
Weight loss is certainly a process. It’s a process that can sometimes feel like an ENDLESS cycle of becoming, becoming, becoming — never small enough, ten more lbs, messed up today, setting deadlines, new clothes, old clothes, people’s reactions — a never-ending evolutionary process where we are always in flux.
That “becoming” sometimes becomes a pair of blinders on our eyes. We remain so focused on what we might be soon that we forget what we are right now.
The minute you make one right choice, you are healthier. The minute you track your meals without exception AND WITHOUT MERCY ON YOURSELF, you are healthier. The minute you decide you are not going to throw it all away at this holiday or that, you are healthier.
Try this: Instead of saying “I am trying to become healthier,” say to yourself, “I am someone who does makes healthy choices.” And then when you make those good choices, instead of telling yourself those good choices are novel, just see them as a part of who you are.
You are evolving, sure. You’re learning new things about yourself and your body, probably. I mean, I certainly am. But there’s something in you that has already decided to BE — it’s your spirit’s sleep bursting. Your Henderson moment.
Pretend, if you will, that you are a book. Pretend this week is a chapter. Pretend it’s being taken and put in an anthology or is the only preview available on Google Books. Envisioning it? Ok. What would someone know or see about you, if this week was all they’d be working with? Would they see you twenty pounds ago, or twenty pounds from now? Nope, they’d see you this week. Would they see the yo-yo-ing that came before, with your weight bouncing around for years? Nope, they’d see you this week. Would they see you feel embarrassed about eating a cookie? Nope, they’d see you this week eating an apple.
We are a summation of our histories, our stories, our memories — they’ve shaped us; they’ve made us. I know. Obviously, right? But we are also RIGHT NOW. Who you are, RIGHT NOW, is who you are.Not who you were or will become.
And so from now on when I get discouraged about the 35 extra lbs that I WANT GONE, I will tell myself: “Self, I know where you want to go. But look at yourself right now and enjoy the ride. You weigh 166.3 lbs, not 190 anymore. You’re a runner. You make good choices. You’re not adrift in the ocean; you’re steering the ship. You’re someone who steers the ship.”
I will work hard on having that notion feel true, and be enough.
Something tells me it will count for more than I can imagine.