Remembering the art of the possible | Chuck's World

By Chuck Sigars | Sep 28, 2016

I don’t want to break the fourth wall here, or touch the third rail, or pull back the curtain or whatever I’m not supposed to do but will do anyway. I just want to be honest.

I’m writing this before the big presidential debate. It hasn’t happened and I haven’t watched. It may have been dull. It may have been a fireworks display.

A Hellmouth may have opened and swallowed up both candidates, and maybe the moderator. Maybe we all got swallowed up, making the whole thing moot. I’m not saying we deserve it. I’m not saying we don’t.

All I’m saying is that nothing I write in this specific column is informed by anything that happened on Sept. 26, 2016. This is a spin-free zone.

I will mention Sept. 26, though.

We live in an era of cheap memory, and it’s usually worth what we paid for it.

Unless you’re someone who’s managed to stay away from electronic gizmos, even if all you do is email, there are probably hundreds if not thousands of those stored away somewhere (if you’re my wife, we’re talking six figures).

And why not? Well, I could give you reasons, but we keep stuff now because we can.

The other night, I parked at the airport and, for what should be obvious reasons, I took a cellphone picture of my row and stall number.

That photo was automatically uploaded to a server located somewhere far away, possibly a Hellmouth, joining countless other similar photos. I may have an entire parking garage by now.

If you use a digital calendar, it’s easy to go backward and see what your plans were on a particular day.

Then there’s social media, which now serves as sort of meta-memory; we post things we posted five years ago, after being nudged by algorithms that know us very well.

We managed to live OK without all of these reminders, somehow, for most of our lives, and still we’re bombarded with a timeline that focuses mostly on what we’ve been doing since we joined that particular service.

According to Facebook, then, my life began in 2007. I’ve got a few photos of parking places to prove it.

Here’s what’s funny, though: In a way, it did. On Sept. 26, 2007, as a matter of fact, and yes, our electronic overlords alerted me to this.

To be clear, I’ve had many more important days, most of them occurring in the analog world in which I passed most of my life. Births, deaths, marriages, graduations: These are easy bookmarks for an ordinary life, no nudges required.

But there comes a time in a man’s life when he looks ahead and sees nothing but trouble. Probably in a woman’s life, too; I have no inside information.

I’ll give you an example. A couple of years before the above date, I was sitting in the Portland airport with a friend, having a long layover, and so just hanging out, watching people.

A very obese man trudged by, and I said to my buddy, “Do you ever look at people and wonder if you’re seeing your own future?”

He thought about it for a few seconds. “I do sometimes wonder if I’m seeing your future.”

He’s a funny guy.

I actually do have photos of that trip we were on. There’s one in particular I tend to pull out when I’m in the mood to show somebody who I was back then. It’s the fattest picture of me I have.

I would weigh more. By the summer of 2007, I was content, even happy.

Certain unmanageable aspects of my life had become more manageable. I was at peace, or something that felt a lot like peace.

I was just pretty fat. I’d been that way for the past 15 years or so, although that summer I got a little indulgent.

When I finally broke down and stepped on a scale, it was slightly over 270 pounds, making me, by some measures, statistically exactly halfway between obese and morbidly obese.

My future started to look a little large.

I’ll say it again: I was pretty happy. I tended to avoid my reflection, but otherwise I felt good.

You can be fat and happy, you know. You can even be fat and healthy, depending on the situation. Some of us just tend to be larger people, for a variety of reasons, and we manage just fine.

So who knows? I just picked a day, Sept. 26, and I started a new behavior. It wasn’t new to me, or novel in any way.

I ate less. I gradually started walking every day, longer and longer. I lost 70 pounds in four months.

There was no secret. There was no will of iron involved. There was no diet plan other than eating less and moving more. I have no other explanation. I’ve never been a guy with much discipline.

But if it’s something that affects you, or troubles you, if you see your future and it involves artificial joints, I’ll just say that I weighed 170 pounds this morning, nine years later. It’s gone up and down, but mostly it’s stayed in the normal range.

I’m not saying it was easy. Just that it was possible, as it turned out, and I’ve got the pictures to prove it.

I can also prove where I parked four years ago. In case it came up in the debate.

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