A Little Miraculous

I was twenty and I had discovered fashion, meaning I had awakened to the reality that like it or not every morning I had to choose what I wore and either I could care about that choice or not. I discovered I cared. I didn’t have much money, but every other week I wandered down to a boutique that sold the kind of clothes a newly fashionable fellow like me would wear, and pick out a pair of pleated pants or brightly colored shirt. The boutique’s owner worked the counter. He had recently begun training for triathlons, and it was his new passion. He told me about his times, about how many miles he had logged on his bike that month, about how much he had bench pressed last week. “Man, I’m thirty-six, and I’ve never been in better shape. I weigh less than I weighed when I was twenty-one!”

I felt a certain kinship for him that had nothing to do with staying in shape and everything to do with his enthusiasm. I would stand at the counter with my new argyle sweater vest, which I would not get to pay for until I heard about how he had just shaved three minutes off his personal best. I was a twenty year-old athlete. I had never been anything but in shape. I didn’t know what it was to be alive and not be fit. My fitness didn’t even feel like a choice.

But that argyle sweater vest felt like a choice. I walked home looking forward to pairing it with those nice khakis and my favorite white shirt. Meanwhile, the young writer in me was remembering the owner’s enthusiasm for triathlons. I could feel the separation between what he was saying and what he was feeling. He didn’t care about his times or his weight. He had discovered that life was miraculous, that all one needs to do is a make a choice and something changes, but how do you share such a thing with another person and not have it just sound like bragging?

I arrived home and tried on the vest with the khakis and the shirt. Not bad. I could understand why a person might devote their life to fashion. But I still preferred the blank page. There was no pretending that anything could happen there without a choice, and wasn’t it a little miraculous that when you liked one of those choices you felt as if you had just met yourself?


Write Within Yourself: An Author's Companion. "A book to keep nearby whenever your writer's spirit needs feeding." Deb Caletti.

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