Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The Importance of Posturing

These visionary apartment buildings overlooking the Tromsø strait were designed by 70°N Arkitektur of Norway

When I was in my 20s, I went to a doctor who informed me, as if proclaiming from a tablet brought down from Mount Sinai, that if I didn’t improve my posture, I would definitely be in a wheelchair by the time I was 50. He strongly suggested that I take up tennis. But tennis is for sissies so I never did that, and I have lived long enough to prove him wrong. My posture still remains strikingly slumped, as I have spent my life hunching over a keyboard, but I remain a functioning biped.

Many people have pointed out to me over the years that good posture is essential to beauty, social life or health. I have heard this from my chiropractor, general practitioner, yoga teacher, homeopath, personal trainer and landscaper—with the latter garnering the most credibility to my mind. Still, while I can straighten up if I’m thinking about it, I get preoccupied with life and soon find gravity pulling me back into the same Neanderthal pose I have always held.

It is worth mentioning that I do not have any serious back problems, or any significant health problems at all for that matter, so I am not sure why people get so disturbed about the acute angle at which I hold my spine.

I’m sure there have been many great people throughout history who have been perfectly successful, temporarily at least, with a less than ramrod silhouette. They might include King Richard III of England (aka the Spider King); Helen Thomas, a renowned Washington reporter; and Igor (of Frankenstein fame) who held a respectable lab position.

Even architecture has paid homage to the merits of a less than perpendicular approach. The Leaning Tower of Pisa is a timeless reminder, and more recently, there are flashes of structural brilliance such as the leaning buildings of Tromsø strait in Norway (see photo above). Now that’s where I want to live!

Indeed, Nature is filled with slumping examples of powerful creatures like panthers, hyenas and elephants. None of them seem to be uptight about how they hold themselves. You don’t see anyone walking behind a leopard lecturing it about the merits of a head held high (not for long, anyway).

I think it’s time to dispel the unfounded superstitions about how life will go terribly wrong if one’s head is not squarely situated over one’s tailbone. It is time for us all to proudly exhale, curl our shoulders inward and lean forward into the future.


  1. MSNBC has even built a tag line around the concept: "Lean Forward."

  2. They also used to tell us that "Someday your face will freeze like that!"....but it never did. Nor did I ever drown from swimming after I ate, or get pneumonia from going out with a wet head.

    Thanks, I think I'll go run with scissors now just to see how that pans out.

  3. Good impulse, Joy. Of course, I completely disavow myself of any legal repercussions that may result.