As an artist, I’ve never been one to paint or draw many self portraits. I prefer to look out at the world rather than constantly looking at myself for some hint about the universe. But yesterday, while sitting on a favorite chair in the living room, I held up the iPhone and snapped a selfie. Obviously I’ve done plenty of those over the years. Billions of other people around the world take selfies every day. There’s an entire industry built around “self-branding” now with influencers snapping pictures of themselves to hawk products or their own lives as evidence of some great insight.
It is likely that I’d have a ton more Instagram followers if I shot more selfies rather than randomly taking pictures of my many interests. Generally, social media favors One-Trick-Ponies over broad spectrum personalities. People seem to like the consistency of a confined personal brand. There’s not so much to think about.
As a triathlete these days I occasionally go on a spree of workout or race photos. I follow tons of athletes on Instagram and admittedly enjoy the feeds of fit-looking people from all sorts of backgrounds. Their mostly young faces stare out from those photos and we derive some dopamine pleasure from the bright eyes and beautiful bodies of these boldly branded beauties and beaus.
Not everyone focuses on being perfect. A few big personalities such as Amy Schumer have taken to showing their flaws and posting challenges on every front. In some respects, that’s what I do with this blog. There’s a fine line between documenting your time and being a narcissist in photos or words, but my belief is that being earnest is the opposite of narcissism. Sharing your world and inviting others to share their own is an honest form of dialogue.
That’s why I like interviewing other athletes as well. I haven’t added up the number of people I’ve profiled but in nine years of doing this blog it is likely more than one hundred people. I’m considering publication of a collection of those essays by following up with those folks to share how their lives continue to change.
We’re all in races with our own faces, you see. Age comes right along with us. I love working out because it keeps me healthy, but I’ll admit that I also like that it helps me look a bit younger. That’s a more difficult chore as time goes by and the metabolism slows down, the face draws longer and wrinkles take over. That just means you have to eliminate the traits that by nature leave you looking older. Wild, frizzy, gray hair. Unshaven beards. Ear hair. The like. The irony is that to combat ageism in this world, you have to engage in it yourself.
While I acknowledge the right of some elder athletes to let it all hang out and care not how old they look, I’m not convinced that’s the best way to motivate or reward your efforts. In my limited estimation, it’s still best to keep yourself as trim and trimmed as possible. Granted, that’s not possible for everyone, so we have to find our own parameters. With so much life to live in every moment, it seems wise to face life with a youthful outlook, even if it’s just putting a smile on your face. That’s the best way to win the race.