Yesterday I sipped on sips of soup and smoothie just to see what it was like. My mouth believed it to be glorious. My stomach disagreed. For hours it cried foul, moaning a long laborious Fuuuuuuuuuck Yooooooooouuuuu. Today I repeated the behavior to see if I fared better. Stomach did, brain didn’t.
Those few gulps of sustenance opened the floodgates to a whole new set of fears. They moved in quickly, trying to take up residency in my heart. They whisper of failure because I had the gall to take a sip of something other than juice. Loser! They chide me with barbs aimed at my lifelong struggles with moderation and forgiveness. What if I fail right out of the gate, regain all the weight and go back to being bloated and frustrated? Don’t worry, they say, just give up and eat! You know you want to. No one would know anyway. Just do it.
They sound like those immature bastards at parties who always convince you to have one more shot of tequila.
I’m really good at going balls out and I’m really good at absolute restraint. It’s all that livin’ in between stuff that I find so complicated. In my youth I believed my extremist tendencies set me apart, made me interesting and, let’s face it, better than everyone else. As I got older they became more difficult to maintain until I reached a magical point of no longer finding them helpful and a true desire to explore moderation. But giving them up was no easy picnic. (And really, did i? I’m pretty sure I’m still in the midst of a 40 day fast for crying out loud.)
Moderation is something I’ve really had to work on. I always find a thing, a food, a drink, a person, a feeling, whatever and focus an inordinate amount of my attention on it. I feel empty without it. Sometimes it’s necessary focus; often it’s borderline OCD. Inside my head I engage in epic warfare over whether I should commit to my resolve or let myself off the hook, but if I’m lenient with myself I have to deal with forgiveness and be sure to not get lazy in the future and what if and who’s right and on and on. Exhausting.
Life shouldn’t be a constant struggle. It’s only a struggle when we let our ego cloud us and talk louder than what’s underneath.
That’s what’s going on right now. Eat, Eat, Eat, Eat, Eat is just about all I can hear in there. Yet more than ever I’m aware of the little consistent voice under it saying Drink, Drink, Drink, Drink, Drink. My heart is honestly still telling me to finish. It’s still whispering We don’t know what’s going to happen.
So I think about Bono singing Don’t let the bastards grind you down in my favorite U2 song Acrobat. I think about yesterday’s horoscope and my friend’s thoughtful comment. Most of all I think about the Tao:
People often fail when they are on the verge of success.
So pay as much attention to the end as you did to the beginning.
I stand here in my kitchen on this 38th day, making yet another batch of this godforsaken lemonade. I hereby reaffirm my resolve to see this through to the end and raise my glass to Lao Tsu. No more soup. No more smoothies. Just juice and lemonade.
Thanks for everything you’ve taught me. This one’s for you, man.