There’s a book I have been reading for the past two years, slowly incorporating it into my life, one page at a time, as if each new version of the sentence “Cancer is everywhere” will motivate me to live the day without any self-destructive habit or aim for self-destruction or habitual consumptive patterns worth eliminating.
The book is entitled Eat To Live, written by Dr. Joel Fuhrman (I keep thinking his name is “David”, probably because I keep assuming he is (like me) Jewish and I do not know where this favorable assumption came from but it makes me believe him more so, in person, if you ask me about this book, I will call the author Dr. David Fuhrman but, please note, his name is Joel).
Eat to Live is wonderful, full of crazy information supporting Fuhrman’s Nutritarian Diet, a word and method of eating he invented which defines the health benefits of limiting yourself to foods that are highly nutritious (i.e. they have a high nutritional value per caloric measure). If you have trouble constructing a diet for yourself that feels good and makes sense, I recommend this book. Good luck reading it as it is very dense and kind of annoying but it is truly helpful.
After two years of reading it, slowly cutting the information into my diet, I finish the book today and I sit in wonderment: The only reason why Fuhrman’s diet is not widespread is because it advocates a lifestyle almost completely void of the pleasures most people seek.
A Nutritarian Christmas looks like this: All vegetables, nothing cooked in oil and at the end of the meal, you can congratulate your celebratory family and religious occasion with a tablespoon of flax seeds and the sensual aroma of gingerbread emanating from a candle, positioned in front of each attendee at the table for full effect and optimal holiday disappointment.
Nobody really knows this about me but I pray daily and most of the time I offer devotion to the day, I want to dedicate this day to the creation of the world and my miraculous fitting into it. Everything I do, everything I act on, I want to commit to further strengthening the goodness of the world.
And then by 4 pm I’m usually a bit drunk.
Sometimes I’ll bake a cake just so I can eat a bite of it and then I throw it away.
Currently I have a fixation on gummy bears but I hate gummy bears so I buy some and then eat some and then hate them and then I don’t know what to do.
I’ve refrained from purity because it takes too long.
The day is long. Time is usually on our side and when I say “our” I include those of us who live alone, are yet to turn thirty (still me), we are single and we keep speaking about our goals as if we obsess over them but, when Time pats us on the back and says DO IT NOW we get worried and we hunt for pleasure in other things.
The opportunities for engagement are plentiful but frightening. If I write something down, I will have written it down and then what? I will know what I think. What if everything I think is garbage? What if I think something that I cannot articulate fully and so I am therefore a failure and now I have proof that I am a failure because I tried but it didn’t work…I’m going to hide my face in my dog’s belly and ask him why he loves me.
The momentary distraction of pleasure is way easier than the pursuit of our purest intentions.
It is terrifying to acknowledge our intentions.
A couple weeks ago I began an experiment I called “The Deafening”.
It hasn’t been too interesting but I estimated that if I removed external noise from my surroundings I would have to face my thoughts more frequently and, in having to face my thoughts, I would strengthen my work, working from the specifics of pain or anxiety that I had been trying so hard to avoid by continuously watching television.
I have not really succeeded in the eradication of noise completely but, in review, the notes so far look like this:
Day 1, 12/11: No TV, No sugar, Meditation, no pain, no fatigue Such a great mood; Yoga; Tanya; pitch progress
Day 2, 12/12:No TV, No Sugar, Yoga, Meditation, no fatigue, no pain, no depression; Proofreading in the morning and I smiled and I smiled and they smiled back
Day 3, 12/13: No TV, No Sugar, No Yoga, Meditation, No fatigue, No pain: Discussed goals with Tara, worked closing, closed properly, promise fulfilled
……We jump ahead until:
Day 7, 12/17: TV, Sugar, No Yoga, One Meditation, Depression, Fatigue, Pain, wake the body up, trying to wake the body up
Day 8, 12/18: TV, Sugar, No Yoga, One Meditation, Depression, Fatigue, Pain, No notes
Day 9, 12/19: I don’t know everything and also: I just want to lie on the floor for a long time, and also death and also sadness and obsessions related to those things, ok
Day 10, 12/20: No notes
Day 11, 12/21: Meditated from bed, no real goals, can’t remember why
Day 11, 12/22: I loved waking up but I was afraid to move, became busy, found love, awoke awoke awoke, alcohol, TV
DAY 11, 12/23: Slept in, no idea how to return to the day, feelings of loss, feelings of blame, need to reorganize but what to reorganize and I have forgotten why silence was so important to me because right now it fucking sucks
DAY 12, 12/24: Everything fine. Destruction is fun. TV all day. Smoked five cigarettes for the first time in forever. Sugar because why not. Big meal with a bottle of wine because ok. Everything is ok. Just play the day in pleasure. Just play the day in pleasure. Just pleasure. Just fine.
This month has been weird and weirder.
I knew I needed clarity.
I quit my job and then had to work that job for three weeks. Within those weeks I had no patience for anything, I spent all my time looking forward to the time when I could just sit still.
My body is in so much pain from the anxiety of reservation: “I cannot start this now because I have to wait until I have time to complete it in one sitting”. I have been waiting to do things and I have no idea what those things even are because there are so many of them, I am just tingling with a misunderstanding of time, I am clueless as to the now, I am hoping and in hoping I am exhausting my nerves.
I just turned the TV off. I walked my dog this morning, came inside and turned it on. It was on all day yesterday. I was going to work in front of the TV. I was not going to watch it but the habit of it’s conversation, the fictional realm of Over There that exists in my home when that TV is on, helps. I don’t know how but it helps.
I turn it on and then I get nervous to turn it off: What if I cannot handle the silence? What if I become bored with my work? What if I just hate what I’m doing and then I have to sit there in the realization that I hate it?
It’s off now.
I turned it off.
I have to admit that part of the reason why I like to keep it on is because my dog lies on the couch and I like to sit beside him.
It is just pleasure. I seek pleasure and in solitude, the solitude of a single Jewish woman on Christmas, it is hard to fine so I find little ways of administrating it for minutes at a time and I hope it lingers.
Dr. Fuhrman states “make a sacred promise to yourself that you will eat with nutritional priority”. Ok. Eat basics. Spinach is just spinach. It does not need to be “dressed”, it does not need to be ruined. Just eat the spinach. Move back to working. If you need more spinach, there is always more spinach and then, there is always more work.
If life is any more complicated than that, I finally understand, it is because I am trying too hard to do much more than Live.
The whole city is seemingly spending time with their families right now and I am spending time with myself. The whole city is indulging for the sake of unity and I have indulged for the sake of aloneness. I am not making up for anything. I am just stretching existence to include pleasure so that reality cannot be demonstrably basic and therefore frightening: How can I fail when it is so easy to just succeed? I don’t know and so I default to: How can I fail if I do not even try?
I have eaten today. I cooked both meals. They were fine, a little bit too much oil for Dr. Fuhrman’s liking but fine.
There is the opportunity for purity in everything I do, everything I consume or choose not to consume. Everything I turn on or choose not to turn on. To find purity, I do one thing at a time. I sit with my dog, no TV. I eat a meal, no distraction. I lay on the floor if I need to, just lying there.
If people I love appear, be with the people I love.
Go back home.
Sit back down.
Return to the simplicity of engagement.
Day 13, 12/25: TV, no sugar, plenty of vegetables, meditation, no real pleasure, no real loss, just a commitment, a “sacred” commitment to Live, to Eat to Live, to Work to Live, substantially