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Appearances really are everything.

A Sunday stroll, dithering...

Down the High Street, and out of town, to my local Aldi store:

A gentle stroll, out in the fresh air, sunshine and blue sky IS a plus of course, but just BEING, walking and sucking up that good clean air. It clears the mind and gives way so many random thoughts and perceptions and today was no exception. So often nowadays, I find myself thinking about posture, MY posture, when I'm out walking. Well, today, I found myself thinking , an image so vivid in my mind's eye, about a soldier I used to see sometimes and how ridiculous he looked as he walked, or rather marched, as they do, with the peak his hat resting on his nose. He had to tilt his head back just to see where he was going and so as a consequence, maybe not, he walked bolt upright with shoulders back. Exuding, I thought, an almost arrogant confidence and, as I strolled, I thought about that.

In time, I would think, it would train a person to walk that way even without wearing a hat and maybe that's the point, THE whole point. We can't have an army of soldiers that skulk around with their chins in their chests. I suddenly thought about how all I'VE ever done, is skulked. There's no two ways about it, I skulk, what sort of an impression must that send out? We are what we I suppose.

Anyway, going back to the soldier and his, or her, appearance. To some observers the might well be a view that forward looking, as the chap with the peak of his hat resting on his nose would seem to be doing, equals forward thinking, and thus, not only is he perceived in a different light, he is probably treated differently. Confidence is power? Now there's a thought. I'm not sure that I'd like to be seen as powerful, I shall stick to skulking I think.

Walking on, a young woman caught my eye. Not too tall, not short, medium height I suppose. Slim but not angular. The edges seemed soft enough. Fawn suede knee-length boots, faded skinny jeans, ash-blonde shoulder length hair, topped off with a chunky white pullover. Think Scandinavian beauty. Early twenties maybe. Again, I found myself thinking. I really shouldn't do that. I think too much. I think. If I'D been in my twenties, right there and then, here and now, feeling as horny as hell, as any normal twenty something might, I wouldn't have given her so much as a second glance. No way. No how. In any sort of social setting, not that I ever socialised, much, I would have avoided her like the plague, might EVEN, probably WOULD have, got my coat and left because of her.

So what has this to do with appearance? I this instance, MY appearance, or what I imagine my appearance to be?
And my answer is, that it goes back to the soldier image. It's " appearance " isn't it. Like that soldier. In control, to the point almost of command. I can't say that I envy that guy, nor would I want to be seen in that light. I actually, even now in my old age, steer well clear of that kind of person. I really don't like, or trust, people who "like" themselves.

As I waited and watched my shopping being scanned by the checkout chap, he was having a problem with my Bartlet's, the scanner couldn't/wouldn't register them.
' A free one '? I ventured, tongue in cheek.
' NO !' Barked the checkout guy.
Jesus! I was joking for Chris' sakes. I was joking.



Dither Great blog post. Very insightful and observant. You are right about posture and the military. My brother was a Marine and he claimed he could spot a fellow Marine, just by the way he walked. It was not uncommon for him to go up to some guy he saw walk, by and say, "Marine! what years were you in?" He seemed to have a knack for doing it, as I don't ever remember him being told he was wrong.

I am often accused of being either a cop or former military, it maybe my bad haircut, short and tight, or it maybe that I stand up straight and look people in the eye. I am really surprised by those in law enforcement that automatically assume I am a fellow cop. My demeanor of being very aware of my surroundings may have a lot to do with it, plus and over abundance of confidence and testosterone.

Consider this, sometimes we buy the book, it is because the cover is cool. It represents an image, or a happening that we want to find out, more about. We all know that it takes more than a cover to make a good book, but that does not mean, that just a good cover, was enough to get someone to part with their money.

I would offer this, for a day...pretend to be that guy. Sargent Dither, a kick ass guy who gets things done. People take one look at him while he strides down the side walk, and give him just a little extra room. The women take one extra sideways glance as he strides by and whisper to themselves, "There goes a real man!" Little kids call you sir. Punk teenagers are quiet around you. Men your age silently and listen while you speak.

It could all happen, your attitude is your book cover, your confidence deriving not from what you just did but just what you think you could do.

I know you'll give me some bullshit reason why it couldn't happen, but for just a brief moment, I am going to picture you as that guy. So Stand Tall :}
It's all very well putting on a front but sooner or later it get's put to the test and you have to come up with the goods. Show what you're packing. Y'know? And at my age, does it really matter?
In my life I have had periods of punishing, life-defining low self esteem. To that, one of the simplest but most useful pieces of advice I ever received in this context was "make yourself taller". I tried it, and after a few false starts, it began to feed both into my feeling about myself and also how others reacted to me. My feeling about myself then fed further into other people's reactions until I realised I could comfortably exist wholly separate from the opinions of others. It was very liberating. It's still not fully done - there are people who make their opinions clear and in a particular way that aims right at our weaknesses - but I am happy to continue this general line of study. I suspect I will never "complete" it, but rather making improvements to my life as best as I can. It does piss me off a little to think of the years that I didn't have this knowledge, but if I can get some use out of it now and also pass it along - as I hope I am doing here - then that is something.

It made me realise how much of interaction with people, the world, etc, is play-acting really, and also how that some of our personality is not defined in stone but the results of our actions and thoughts in such play. "Fake it till you make it" works to a point; it's just one tool in the box, though exercise judgment - what you fake can make you. I have to do this daily in my job; talk just enough jargon and BS so that other people think I know what I'm doing, and by doing so, some of it does stick. It's a little worrying sometimes how fundamentally simple it can be. It makes me realise how much of the world is held together by this sort of imposition of will and other showboating. The challenge of course seems to be that nowhere is this in a manual or handy handbook, and in that gap there's a lot of unworkable guff. "Be positive!" people might say. "Okay, but how?" The seeds for positivity tend not to be sown on the day one wishes to make a change; for me they were sewn in some instances years earlier, often via seemingly unrelated tasks, and only later does one realise "Aha, this is how one 'believes in oneself'" or "so this is what not giving a crap about the opinions of person XYZ feels like" or whatever. Some people have this ability from day dot and I am happy for them, genuinely. Others may get it way later via a convoluted route. Then there's the art of saying you don't know, and the art of being comfortable with not having all the answers, and presenting that fact without feeling like a failure; owning it.

Following one's passions through the pant-shitting fear; finding allies in like-minded people and having no qualms about cutting away people who aren't that for us; realising that good times and bad times tend to pass; making and owning and defending tough decisions at times; understanding how interpersonal relations really work - these have been useful, if occasionally uncomforatable, lessons for me. And I don't think it's ever too late. If someone only gets a week of feeling reasonably awesome about themselves (if that's important to them; it may not be), it can ice their cake somewhat.

Good topic though. Hopefully it's useful to someone somewhere.
dither;bt13991 said:
It's all very well putting on a front but sooner or later it get's put to the test and you have to come up with the goods. Show what you're packing. Y'know? And at my age, does it really matter?

If you get put to the test and you don't have the goods, cheat. Bluff your way out. Entertain people as you flounder. Sounds daft, but it does help. Everyone who doesn't have the ability to achieve in something has by definition the option to still bring joy - by playing up that lack of achievement. Some of us are born to clown. It's just a matter of delivery.
I chose to turn my back on the world a long long time ago and I make no secret of not giving a damn about people, or their dog. If some-one openly disagrees with something I say or challenges me I shrug my shoulders like yeah whatever and walk away. It does make for one lonely existence though.
dither;bt13994 said:
I chose to turn my back on the world a long long time ago and I make no secret of not giving a damn about people, or their dog. If some-one openly disagrees with something I say or challenges me I shrug my shoulders like yeah whatever and walk away. It does make for one lonely existence though.

Hehe, what do you do if they agree with you though?
Playing Devil's advocate here:
Many years ago, the group home I worked in hired a "body language expert" to help us deal with our little cretins. Part of the exercise was an analysis of each counselor's posture and stride. I still remember my shock when the instructor called me out...
"You have the most centered, non-threatening stance here. Chest back, arms relaxed. Perfect communication posture." At that time, I had been out of the Marines for a few years. But I remembered the important stuff.
You need to know your surroundings and your "mission" (whatever that may be). I was never one of those preening, Dress-Blue wearing poster boys. I played in the woods, the jungle, the mountains. My "game" was to be quiet, focused, and unseen 'till I opened the can-o-whoopass. I always knew who I was. Never went home bragging, strutting or any of that nonsense. Most people were pretty incredulous when I told them I was a Marine. I like not being easy to read.
"The nail that sticks up, gets hammered." Confucius.
dither, you be YOU. Inside, you know your strength. It shows in your humility, wisdom and your self-reliance. Most of the struttin' peacocks are sorely lacking.
bdcharles;bt13995 said:
Hehe, what do you do if they agree with you though?

I try not to put myself in a position where I may or may not be agreed with. But if it happens I try not to go over board with it, A half smiling nod of the head that hopefully signifies a polite and modest thank you, and then, I walk away.

Like I said, an unspoken " agree/don't agree, whatever ".
"The nail that sticks up, gets hammered." Confucius."

Nice thought Winston but in my world it never seems to work out that they.

I DO know one thing though, people don't like being ignored. And when I've been challenged about it I've feigned such surprise that they even noticed like , who me? Little insignificant me? And they seem to like that as though I'm not worthy to even breath the same air as them. I'm nothing. I'm less than nothing. Their just too up themselves to get where I'm actually coming from with that and then I feel such a warm glow inside. I'm laughing at them and they don't know it. I DO like that.

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