Those of you who find yourselves helplessly expanding around the waistline, or those middle-aged males who discover you have more fat on your chests than you do on your voluminous backsides, I empathize. It’s not my province to cast aspersions when I share your porky plight.
Now that we’ve finished commiserating, I confess that I don’t know much about how the body works; I don’t know why the world is run by jerks (but I do know that I love you–er, excuse me, I was channeling the ghost of Sam Cooke). But I do know that I need to eat and drink less, and get more exercise, the usual formula for shedding blubber.
My sedentary, hibernating habits of winter have borne grotesque fruit; I haven’t yet reached Brando’s girth, or that of latter-day Elvis or Sir Jack Nicholson, but I’m well on my way. Now that the weather’s finally starting to warm up (eureka vengeance!), I can get out there and do some hiking again. There’s a nice little mountain not far from my apartment where I can waddle down the trail to my heart’s content. There’s even a way station for weary travelers with a natural spring that flows from a wet rock carved out for the purpose of drinking nature’s divine love juice, otherwise known as water. My wife often warns me that it’s not safe to drink, but I’ve quaffed many bottles-full over the past year and haven’t gotten giardia (have to check the spelling of that later) yet.
One advantage of having a spherical physique is that you can roll everywhere you go. In fact, if you’re tubby enough, you can even retract your arms and legs like a turtle to increase your velocity as you bounce and spin down the concrete bunny trail of postmodern life. Or you can become a whirling dervish and draw beautiful Moons (or Parks, Kims, and Lees) into your orbit.
It serves me right for being a belly-glutton. Like a dummy, as described in the last entry, I went out drinking the other night–alone in public, as it were–which not only added a couple of kilos to my flabulous frame but also compounded my previously disappearing cold symptoms and gave me an all-new tummy ache. I did have a good time though, reading about the time I moved to Japan twenty-three years ago, when I was still a fresh-faced stick figure unbowed by the world’s irrepressible corruption. My wife has pointed out that I’m shorter than I used to be (though the contrary is true if I’m lying down) and is constantly adjusting my posture when I’m stooped under the cross I bear in my backpack or slumped in front of the computer like a melting ice cream sundae.
Not that you have to let the world push you around or shatter your stature. As Martin Luther King said, “A man can’t ride your back unless it’s bent.” I don’t think he was giving mating advice to couples or providing instructions on how to give another adult male a piggy-back ride; nay, he was stressing the importance of dignity (even though the Buddha claimed there is no such thing as an abiding self, which means the whole exercise is just an elaborate pose). Even so, I don’t think he’d be comfortable with this new monument dedicated to him in Washington, impressive as it must be, despite having a gigantic mind and “a heart as wide as the world,” (to quote the title of a book by Buddhist author and teacher Sharon Salzberg).
Speaking of things that are as wide as the world, I think I’ll get up from my seat now and go for a walk. I hope you all have the good fortune of an either exciting or relaxing weekend, whichever you prefer.