I met a man in the store the other day, someone I hadn’t seen for a few years, although even then it was a pretty tenuous relationship. Still, he was a familiar face for a while and then not, so it was fun to catch up in a superficial, unexpected encounter way.
And as we were saying goodbye, he gave me a hard time. “I see you’ve kept that weight off you were bragging about in the paper,” and I tried to think of the right gesture, hands outstretched, asking for forgiveness? The always-reliable shoulder shrug? Decisions.
Instead, I stuttered, trying to explain, always a bad idea for me with a limited amount of time; I need five paragraphs at a minimum to figure out what I’m thinking.
My point was (would have been, should have been) that I’m not looking for credit here. I’m also uninterested in justifying or making excuses for what I write about; the best I can do is explain, and that mostly involves the idea that I write about whatever’s on my mind on a Monday morning and can get written with the least amount of energy. I hope for some entertainment value, is all.
But the weight? Like everything else I do, I just developed a habit. Bragging rights belong to the guy who gets a stern lecture from his doctor on dropping some serious weight or start measuring coffins, as fun as that sounds. That’s the kind of motivation that would inspire me to crawl under my bed and practice counting dust bunnies. It sounds counterintuitive but that’s the kind of change I admire, transformation under pressure. I tend to wilt in those situations, with maybe one or two exceptions.
I’m much more interested in figuring out how I’ve screwed up constantly throughout my life and trying not to do that again. I start with the assumption that everything is my fault and work from there; it’s really a lot easier, and it saves me the effort of manufacturing (mostly) resume points.
But I would like credit for one thing, and that’s keeping my mouth shut. Not credit from you, only the Imaginary Tote Board In The Sky, but that’s what I want.
It doesn’t come naturally, or professionally. The chatter about the Age of Oversharing bores me, the way a baseball fan for life might feel about a newbie who’s suddenly all excited about stats. I was way ahead of the crowd.
So I want credit for some discretion. It’s possible I’ve learned to slow down and think before I type. For example, my daughter was in town last week for a short visit. In the old days? All Beth, All The Time. Three blog posts a day and at least two columns. The truth is, it was a quick trip, too little time to spend ruminating about meanings or moments. We had a good time, I was sorry to see her go, glad she came, and my bedroom got painted, funny.
I’m thinking this is maybe emotional maturity, although I wouldn’t bet against entropy. My energy seems fine but not as fine as it was, maybe for good reason and maybe because I seem to be getting older. At any rate, the keyboard seems more intimidating than it used to, although I guess I’ll just go with the maturity thing. Not that I’m getting any credit for that.