Suit Yourself

During one of my outdoor adventures, which I variously call walking, jogging, or hiking, it occurred to me that my walking attire isn’t posh, fashionable or even what some might consider appropriate.  After all, once upon a time a passerby thought I was a bag woman and asked, did I have a home.

When I walk in the summer, I carry a security alarm, my cell phone, antibacterial soap and a stick to combat spider webs and gnats.  Clear, big, shooting glasses to prevent bugs from connecting with my eyes, round out the stuff I don when heading out.  Oh, I guess I should include, the baby oil lotion applied to exposed skin, which also supposedly keeps mosquitoes at bay.

These outings range from a local and familiar three to five miles and take around thirty minutes.  I don’t take water with me because I might feel that it’s distasteful for a girl to urinate in the woods.  I tank up when I get home.

I wear long, lightweight, linen pants, this time of year, secured by socks to prevent ticks from making contact with my skin.  All kinds of bugs like me, as do plant oils.  Considering the summer heat, I’m probably considered by onlookers as a bit covered up, or over-dressed, with this hiking costume.

I usually select one of my husband’s tee-shirts with pockets for my tissues, which are always handy when walking outdoors. Does your nose run when you work, or otherwise exert yourself, outdoors?

My footwear is an old pair of Sloggers, the kind they no longer sell.  If you’re unfamiliar with Sloggers they are rubber slip-on shoes.  They suit my bunions and the rubber soles take the pounding of my feet to the varied terrain I encounter from grassy soil, sometimes muddy or wet; to gravel, sticks, pavement, rocks, acorns, and whatnot.

Diehard hikers would have me court-martialed for this getup.  I’m unapologetic, however.  I rest my case on the precedent-setting Grandma Gatewood.

Some years ago, a sixty-something woman set out to hike the Appalachian Trail, wearing garden-variety, cheap sneakers.  Why?  Because they felt good on her feet. She conquered the famous trail, not once but several times, all the while wearing (and replacing multiple times over) her comfortable sneakers.

Her attitude, as is mine, at this ripe age, is “suit yourself.”  When I was mulling over this column while jogging and I came up with the “suit yourself” title, I wondered about the origins of the phrase.  I anticipated finding it to have a metaphorical meaning that went back to the daily suit-wearing of most men in the 1920s and maybe annoying the tailor with too many prickly demands, who may have replied: “suit yourself” then.

But, no.  “Suit yourself,” does not have such a fanciful metaphorical meaning, it simply means to do or think as you please; please yourself.

When one gets to a certain age, one feels, “I’ll do what I want.”  We tend to have veered away sometime in the last decade, from people-pleasing.  Although we haven’t abandoned common courtesy and kindness to others, we don’t live to please them.  We suit ourselves.

There is a song on my jogging playlist, called Here with Me, by Dido.  In it, she sings, “I am what I am.  I’ll do what I want…but I can’t breathe until you’re resting here with me….”  These lyrics seemed a little contradictory to me at first.

Suiting yourself, or doing what you want, however, does not discount others in your life.  In most healthy relationships, independence is intermittent as is dependence.

There is a third way of relating to others, it’s interdependence.  Interdependence allows one to weave back and forth between independence and dependence, to do what you want sometimes, do what they want on occasion and do what suits you, together, other times.

This defines relationship.  Connection, disconnection and interconnection in our interactions, allow us to relate to others yet, “suit ourselves.”  It’s a win-win.

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