donate now The Fatty Liver Foundation

Self Image is a useful liar

Exercise as a patient is a popular subject which reminded me of a recent experience.  If you have ever been a runner you likely know of what is called the "runners high".  It is a feeling of euphoria brought on by the release of endorphins.  Running is mostly hard work but occasionally it is magic.

There is a greenbelt along the river where I live that bikers and pedestrians enjoy.  It is really quite a nice amenity.  It is local custom for bikers to signal with a bell perhaps or more commonly to announce "on your left" when passing to avoid startling walkers. 


I was jogging along recently and it was a perfect day.  A gorgeous morning and I felt good.  As I went along everything came together.  I was the winged god Mercury floating effortlessly through space with the wind and gravity paying me hardly any mind as I flew past.  A glorious experience that I would gladly become addicted to. I could have run all day with no effort at all.

I heard a voice say  "On Your Left" and I moved to the side to let the peloton of bike racers speed by.  I noticed with some surprise that a large stroller with twins in it was passing me instead.  A very young and pretty mother told me "great job, keep going, you are doing great" as she came along side.  As my wings fell off I watched a young mother pushing a stroller speed gracefully away leaving me to rather abruptly resume the old guy shuffle that was my actual running form.

I'm often jolted by the gulf between the image of myself that I cherish and the grey alien figure that is somehow projected in my mirror.  I mostly ignore that as a trick of the light and preserve my sense of self.  The gap between my very best day as a runner and a young mother with a twin stroller is a bit harder to ignore.  However, I shall persist in my deviant perspective.  I believe that once we decide to act old we become old.  Once we decide that we are mostly our liver disease we become a victim and lose the strength to resist.

The world is often a place of coincidence.  Months later I met this same woman by chance with a very different interaction.