It’s that time of year when the blind followers of Conventional Wisdom begin batting around New Year’s resolutions. Here at Casa D’Nap we don’t need no stinkin’ resolutions. If you want to make a change in your life, every day, heck, every minute, gives you the chance to change your attitude, your behavior, or your perspective — if that is truly what you want.
Once upon a time I was shopping in a famous name home store with my elder Nap child for stuff to take to college, ostensibly to make her cinder block room feel more like home. We had a shopping cart piled high with bedding, plastic storage boxes, shower paraphernalia, and when we got to the check-out line there was only one register open. We got on the line and prepared a fresh batch of patience to share between us. Soon another lady joined our line, and her order consisted of one frying pan. It didn’t take long before she started huffing, puffing and pawing the ground muttering, “I can’t believe they only have one register open! Don’t they see this long line? Is this any way to run a business?”
I felt uncomfortable. Surely I agreed with her, but clearly I wasn’t in any position of authority to either open up another register or burn down the store to appease her. But I did have one option: I offered to let her cut in front of me and my behemoth shopping cart of an order. But as soon as I finished making the offer, she laughed heartily and replied, “Oh no, thank you. I can wait. I just like to bitch.”
There are at least two morals in this little chestnut:
- Whether they know it or not, people are looking for a little recognition. A little bit of social lubrication is the karmic grease that keeps us from killing our fellow humans.
- You don’t really need all the crap for your dorm room.
Lately I’ve been fascinated how changes in perspective can bring about physical change in the self. When training or working out, it seems that novelty and variety bring about more gains that repeating the same daily work-out routine. Muscles need to be challenged by “surprise” to grow stronger. To this end I’ve been experimenting with changing up both the times and types of work-outs I’ve been doing. Unfortunately it is just as dark at 6 AM is it is at 6 PM, but the novelty of seeing new repeat strangers is a plus. The other thing that has piqued my curiosity is this intermittent fasting, or 5:2 Diet. The 5:2 ratio means you spend two days consuming between 500 -600 calories and the remaining five days eating whatever you want. However, the fasting days are supposed to re-train you to want less unhealthy food during the “free eating” time.
In contrast, my friend Notorious s.t.u. undertakes an Herculean event called’ “No Eat January.” I admire his stamina and envy his February abs, because, like Academy-award winning actor Christian Bale, he really will not eat for the month of January. OK, he’ll eat enough to make it through his day, but that’s all. Similar to Mardi Gras, “No Eat January” is preceded by “Fat- December” and is followed by a delicious break-fast (usually in a warm, exotic locale in February where Notorious will look hotter than his old high school self).
I don’t believe that the ability to refuse food makes you a more virtuous person, but like most ascetic undertakings the goal of fasting is to bring the participant to some kind of higher awareness. For me it makes me highly aware of my own crankiness. Crankiness that I try to contain so I don’t make my friends, family and co-workers wish me bodily harm. I was cranky enough during my low-iodine diet weeks, and much of that stemmed from not being able to enjoy communal meals with family and friends. Solitude may be the faster’s best (and only) friend. But I can’t deny it is as valuable as its distant cousin, Boredom, to the channeling of discomfort into something new and potentially creative via an alternate perspective. I also found that after a time the new routine and rituals around food and its prep reduced the discomfort to the point where I didn’t have to think about food all time. Then again, I wasn’t hungry – just in a different food-groove.
When I was in high school we had a young teacher who tried to bring the plight of world hunger into our awareness by asking us students to donate our lunch money one day a week and skip eating lunch that day to experience, briefly, world hunger. As I recall very few students participated with regularity, and I couldn’t help but compare the exercise to the “clean your plate” argument of my grandparents. As though the food I ate would make the lives of starving strangers better? Like it or not, food is fuel to the body of both people and nations. In its extreme, excess and absence, it can make a people too comfortable, too dissipated to care for others or a people too weak, too depleted to care for themselves.
There are no pat answers to solving hunger in the world – we all have to eat every day. I resolve to be more mindful of my own consumption at every meal, even the ones I decline. My wish is we all experience Bounty in the New Year in whatever form you crave (Creative, Spiritual, Nutritional) – may you have enough to satisfy you and perhaps a bit to share.