Do I Look Good

Running is a great time for slowing down. I’ve started jogging daily first thing in the morning and I can’t imagine a better start to the day. I have a park right next to where I live populated at that time by fellow joggers and dog-walkers. There’s nothing quite like watching the sun rise and catch the water on the lake and the fresh smell of the dawn.

I’m often overcome with moments of sheer joy and love for the world – mixed in with the not so subtle reminders from my body that I’m not as young as I used to be!

Out Of My Head

Apart from the hoped for health benefits it’s a great time to be in my skin and not my head.

I’m not what you might call an ‘athletic type’ (no, please don’t write in to tell me I’m wrong .. I am NOT an athletic type!) so any form of exercise doesn’t come so easily for me. Which means a lot of my energy and attention is taken up with the physical exertion of running. In turn that means my thinking has far less power over me and is much slowed down.

Running has become my meditation practice.

To some extent I can focus my thinking towards getting something done .. but that takes some control. Usually my head is full of a jumble of different ideas, thoughts, fleeting glimpses of a memory, visions of the future, advice to myself, reminders of things to do – all mixed up with the background noise of thoughts that are impossible to catch. Running quietens my thoughts rather than making them disappear completely, so those I do have are much easier to catch.

Running, or anything that gives me something physical to focus on, allows all that background crap to take a break.

What’s left is much clearer. Much easier to distinguish.

So …. Do I Look Good?

This morning I caught this particular thought as I passed some other runners going in the opposite direction.

“I hope I look good!”

Objectively speaking I’m a slightly overweight 46 year old in running gear that was thrown together from whatever was to hand this morning. My legs are long and my running ‘style’ could never be described as elegant. When I had this thought I’d been running for about 15 minutes, so my face was red, sweaty and wore an expression that says something like ‘I’m sure this park was smaller yesterday’.

Objectively speaking there is no way I ‘look good‘ while running.

More than that, one of my beliefs about myself is that what I look like doesn’t matter to me, so it was a shock to catch this thought popping up.

Thoughts Come From Somewhere

Usually what I do with a thought that I don’t like or doesn’t fit with my world view is simply to discount it as a random aberration. On reflection that’s not necessarily the most sensible thing to do as my thoughts, even the crazy ones, could just be telling me something.

The trick, I believe, is to:

  • notice them
  • listen to them
  • step back from them a little
  • see if there’s a message

And always be very wary of believing them to be ‘true’.

The Message

I noticed the thought, listened to it and stepped back from it a little.

Do I care more about my physical appearance than I care to admit to myself?

I arrogantly like to think of myself as ‘different’ and ‘Bohemian’ and that I’d like to be seen for the human being I am and not judged for what I look like.

In truth I keep my head shaved and often look a little scruffy, preferring casual to smart and old to new. If I’m honest with myself I tend to dress down as a way of getting noticed and demonstrating my individuality and rebellion against other people’s standards. I often deliberately choose ‘a look’ that’s designed to attract attention but in doing so I’m just playing the same game.

For example this morning I chose a running vest and told myself it was to keep cooler. I think I was lying to myself .. it was to show off the small tattoo of a scorpion on my left shoulder.

In our world, rightly or wrongly, looks count for a lot. I don’t like the extent to which this is the case but I do understand it. After all, what I look like is the first thing that anyone meeting me will notice. They have little else to go on other than my appearance and I’m perhaps more influenced by this than I care to admit.

Anyway, it got me thinking about what other messages there might be in those aberrant thoughts I only catch while running.

I’ll just have to wait until tomorrow to pick them up!

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