Saturday, February 02, 2013

Internal Dialogue

There's a scene near the end of the movie The Jungle Book.  We come across a quartet of vultures -- who share a remarkable resemblance with a certain mop top boy band of the era.  One of them keeps asking, "Whacha wanna do?"  To which another answers, "I dunno, whachu wanna do?"  They go back and forth like this for a while until they realize the futility of this circular conversation.

I'm on Day Two of my juice fast.  (I know that some of the other folks at church are starting today, or don't plan to start until Sunday or Monday, but I started yesterday.  It's easier if Day One is actually on the 1st of the month.  Easier to keep track.)

Anyway, this is Day Two.  And inside my head there's been a fairly constant dialogue.  "Wacha wanna do?"  I keep asking myself.  "Eat."  I reply.  "No, seriously," I'll say, "what do you want to do?  "Eat." comes the reply.  "Eat.  That.  Now."

This is not surprising.  Never before in human history have we had so much access to so much food.  Or, at least, food-like stuff.  In truth, many of us are hardly ever eating actual food most of the time, so perhaps it's more accurate to say that never before in human history have we had so much access to so many calories.

The Standard American (processed) Diet is calorie rich and nutrient poor.  We are capable of consuming incredible amounts of calories while hardly getting any of the nutrients our bodies need.  In fact, this is one of the explanations for our current obesity epidemic -- that even though we're eating more than enough calories to fuel our body's functioning our bodies keep crying out for the nutrients they need.  This causes us to eat more food, and the food-stuff most readily to hand is the same stuff that didn't give us what we needed in the first place.

And so the activity of eating becomes nearly completely removed from the function of eating -- giving the body the nutrients it needs to live.  Instead, eating becomes a comfort.  Or a reward.  Or an escape from boredom.  Or an escape into boredom.  Or a self-medication to reduce stress.  Or anger.  Or depression.  Or . . .

So it's Day Two of the juice fast.  And I'm getting all of the nutrients my body needs.  And my digestive system is beginning to relax a bit from its usual overworked state.  And the toxins are beginning to be dislodged from the places they've taken up residence in my system.  And all of that is to the good, but I've also stopped trying to escape my boredom, or my feelings, or my whatever it is I've been escaping through eating.

And this is one of the benefits of a fast -- whether it's a fresh vegetable and fruit juice fast, or a FaceBook fast, or a fast from media.  One of the benefits of a fast is that it separates out a behavior from the myriad of meanings we've superimposed on it so that we can once again engage it for its own purpose. After a period of withdrawal from these activities we can see them again for what they really are -- I eat to fuel my body; I go on FaceBook to connect with friends; I . . . 

Of course, all of those things I've been trying to avoid or deny will begin to come more clearly into focus.  While this is uncomfortable, to say the least, it also provides me with an opportunity to devise new ways of coping with them.  Because, as I already know, eating is not the best way to deal with my emotions.

In the meantime, though I'm going to keep asking myself, "whacha wanna do?"

And while my habituated answer is "eat," at least for today I'm going to answer instead, in the words of Joe Cross:  Juice On!

In Gassho,

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Anonymous said...

Your tenacity always amazes me, Erik!


Marc Goldberg said...

funny. I logged on to tell you "juice on". I don't think we got to the part in the movie fri. where he said it before the video tanked (but I plagiarize stuff all the time by forgetting it and deluding myself that the idea was mine).

Regardless, juice on my Reverend