It is strange how we create a routine out of the obligations of life. A pattern is shaped from necessity and reluctantly overlaid. Eight years ago my father died, and my mom asked me to come see her more often. At first it was every other week. Somewhere in there it became a weekly visit. Usually on a Saturday, I’d be up by 6am and on my way. The 2-hour drive a quiet pleasant meditation through lovely Ontario country-side. A stop for a coffee. Sometimes a pause for walk on a trail.
There is no way around this. I am large. Full on fat.
And I mean that in the nicest way possible.
I am corpulent. Disgusting. Rotund. Obese.
Go ahead judge me. Place me on the scales of social comment and weigh me down with your words. I can take it – after all I am a big boy. And I do mean big. Huge even. Go ahead snicker and snidely aside to your trim posse of the svelte.
The past year. Well really these past many years I have tried to lose some weight. I set reasonable achievable goals of 5 pounds this month. 2 kilos. And it does work. For a while. I have dropped 15 pounds some years starting from January and keeping on into September. Then October hits and it starts with the food fests – Thanksgiving, Halloween, and into Christmas. Food glorious food!
My bane however is a simple pastry. An easy to make and easy to eat flaky fold of delight. The apple turnover. Oh how do I love thee – let me count your flaky sheets of joy! Here are the food stats on a typical apple turnover.
Calories:400 Sodium:150 mg Total Fat: 16 g Sugar: 26 g
Nutritional value? minimal amounts of vitamin C and A. Not exactly a health food.
For the past ten years I have walked past a coffee shop on my way into work – and the smell of cinnamon and coffee has lured me in nearly every morning. Fresh baked goodness tickling my nose, tantalizing my tongue. Pavlovian zombie I slip inside. Grab a cup, fill it up. Add 1% milk to cool the hot black brew. Make a promise to only buy the coffee. Stand in the line that snakes past the pastry display. Resolve firm. Smell cinnamon. Eyes glance. See that delicate curve. Soft gleam of sugar. The seeping hot inner juices wanting to be set free.
Just. One. More. Time. Only. I surrender, slip one into the white paper bag. Quickly pay and rush out with my sweet sin firmly in hand.
I walk out with coffee and apple turnover. Back into the fresh air. Slip the pastry free of it coverings, and savour the first sweet flaky mouth filling bite. This is happiness. This is joy. This is guilt. Once more I have given into that wonderfully seductive pastry.
For years I justified that excess by not eating breakfast. After all breakfast is about 400 calories as well – so it is all a trade-off right? Except breakfast may contain other ingredients – many with real nutritional value and fibre. And a heck of a lot less sugar. But none are as sweet and as full of joy as my apple turnover.
This January I resolved to stop the pastry guilt trips of gluttony. This January I did the math – 400 fewer calories primarily from sugar and complex carbs times 5 is 2000 calories. Times 52 is 104,000 calories. And that is 29 pounds. That is of course the optimal count – let’s be conservative and say 20 pounds for the year.
And dollar-wise that was $1.50/day. $7.40/week. $390/year. Again let’s be conservative and say $300/year saved.
Here it is 6 months later in July, and I have managed to *mostly* avoid the lure of apple turnovers. I should be 10 pounds lighter given all else being constant. Weight check: Up 5 pounds. WTF!?
So I reviewed my food diary (as spotty as my record keeping is…) and the problem is of course that I didn’t really stop eating that 400 calories! As I mentioned I had already deluded myself into making apple turnovers a part of my (un)healthy breakfast. By eating breakfast at home – even if it was one piece of multi-grain toast with butter (or cream cheese) and a small serving of fruit – I was still eating at least 400 calories. A slice of multi-grain bread with butter is about 200 calories. A banana is about 100 calories. That breakfast is 20 grams of sugar and 8 grams of fat. Plus more fibre, and other nutrients. So plus on the better eating. Not so much on the caloric intake.
And here is the kicker – because I ate breakfast at home I was finding myself hungry by mid-morning and snacking. Now my snacks are reasonable on the healthy scale – being some combination of fruit/veggies/nuts/yogurt/water. BUT under my own “less healthy” eating pattern I never ate snacks.
Conclusion: Fat man FAIL.
This morning I walked past that coffee shop and walked into the tantalizing sinful aroma of sweet pastry sins. It was the best god-damn fricking pastry I have ever eaten. It was like going home for Christmas and finding out that Santa Claus is totally real. Cinnamon sugar fantastically awesomely real. In case you didn’t quite get that: I enjoyed that apple turnover like nothing before. I’d go all cliche on you and say it was better than sex – but since fat-men don’t have sex I wouldn’t really know!
Whew. That was good. Now if you’ll excuse me I think I need a smoke.
Babies have it all figured out – at its most basic life is simply this:
Eat; Rest; Excrete.
Take in; Ponder; Release.
Let in; Let be; Let go.
It is just that simple.
Of course the more we grow,
the more able we become,
the more we get distracted by the wonders of living and being alive.
And in our distraction we forget the essence of being:
For those that think we can go back to a “traditional conception of marriage” do you mean like this: 1769 – The American colonies, basing their regulations on English common law, decree: “The very being and legal existence of the woman is suspended during the marriage, or at least is incorporated into that of her husband under whose wing and protection she performs everything.”
Hello world – the very essence of marriage changed back when western/European nations began to expand the concept of persons. First by allowing one to be a person even if one didn’t have property (but still requiring a proof of penis). Then by expanding person-hood to non-whites (with a penis). And more recently waiving the penis clause – so that women could at last be persons too! All of those changes evolved from initially recognizing that one didn’t need to own property to be a person! Before those dramatic expansions of person-hood, marriage was all about an individual man’s person-hood and his acquisition of property and property rights. A wife was another piece of property – that elevated a man’s person-hood! A single man being less of a person.
(An aside here – one reason birth certificates indicated sex and race was so one’s legal status to own property could be verified. Since we don’t legally limit property in that way anymore – the sex and race data bits aren’t really required for any legal purpose. We are just so used to recording it that we continue to check the boxes…okay back to the original ramble…)
Once marriage became about the voluntary union of two persons – and society continued to confer special economic and social status on that union – it was inevitable that the rules would be challenged, changed, and expanded.
Nice to see our governments finally catching up to the democratic will of the people – even if it does takes 9 ancient humans in black robes to declare reality has shifted.
The reality is governments don’t change. It is the will of the people that changes governments.
So in sum total what did all that mean? Nothing really. The world continues as it did yesterday. Only with slightly more wisdom, slightly greater clarity, and just as much hubris. You may continue with your normal lives and forget I said anything at all!
Life is a journey. A long walk on the clock that ticks and tocks the pacing of each step. One foot, two foot. Red foot, blue foot. Down gravel roads, over hills, through the grass until long and at last we reach the final cliff of destiny. We stand in stunned realization that we wandered long and hard and far only to end up here staring at one final sunset, moon-rise, star-sky or whatever otherwise; then step off the cliff as we die. What lies beyond we don’t know – and really do we even care?
In starting that first paragraph I had a horrible realization – and then realized that life is simply a series of horrible realizations. Here are my ten core horrible realizations plus one :
10) Nothing you do matters. Yeah you can tell me that it does, but really stop and think about it. Everything is ephemeral, and the digital world is even more ephemeral. What I just wrote and posted will float for one mill-second on the pond scum called the internet, and then bloop down into the undertow. Gone into the search optimization of page 3. Name one thing that you have done that will be here in 100 years. Congratulations you – my good human – are a freak.
9) Everything you do has been done before. Horatio there is nothing new under the sun – you just haven’t dreamt about it yet! We are simply rinse, recycle, repeat. Yes it looks all shiny and new after the rinse cycle – but really? Been there; done that; and bought the postcards. autumn, winter, spring, summer – down we forget as up we grew.
8) There are only 7 plots. That is it. All stories can be told by using those 7 plots. All lives are lived mixing and matching those 7 plot lines. And then we are buried in one and six-feet under the rest. Headstone marking the epitaph that says “here lies one who was born, wondered, wandered, loved, lost, cried and died.”
7) No matter what you have it will be lost. Do you remember saving up for that special something whatzit whozit wonderous dodad dingus phenomenon on om mahna mahna. Can you tell me where it is now? And how special is it now? Okay you saved it and put it on a shelf and still have it – well wasn’t that a hell of a lot of fun? Why not just take a picture it will last long… OH wait no it won’t!
6) Whatever you remember is wrong. Ever have that conversation with someone about that really cool shared experience and realize that maybe you really weren’t at the same event after all? If you thought digital was ephemeral – just stop and think about thoughts. Fleeting flitting ephemeral memory forever. The beauty of memory is that it does fade – so all that pain and living and bleeding becomes happy bubblegum and rainbows. Eventually.
5) Nature is relentless. We eco-conscious, green-eyed with wonder and longing for the “natural world” of another time and place – forget that the real nature of nature is harsh, cruel, wild and oh so very hungry. Go on go. Get back to nature and live with the wolves. I dare ya. Final score? Wolves 1; You? Dinner.
4) People are selfish assholes. By design of course – it is how we survive. How we succeed, move ahead, accumulate, control, possess, thrive. It is the heart and soul of ambition. And without ambition we would all still be dealing with Number 5 above – and watching the wolves eat our children as they slip from womb to doom. Oh you say in gleeful chortle to prove me wrong – what about the human quality of altruism and charity? Yeah right. You really think that is all self-less and without a Machiavellian underpinning? I’ll scratch your back – and OH! Oh now I own you! Altruism is just the gateway to guilty long-term manipulation.
3) No one really cares about you – for you. Oh sure they bring you flowers, and offer tokens of appreciation, and say sweet savory words of delight. All designed to make your heart grow three size too big and kill you from congestive heart failure. Or make you drop your pants so you can satisfy some itch that exists in their own pants. “Oh sweetie you are so wonderful, here I brought you flowers which will now die and never produce offspring – and OH speaking of offspring lets get naked and plant some seeds of our own!” OH that heady rush of oxytocin makes me do and say things I will regret in due course!
2) No matter what you have it will never be enough. Again by design. Our genetic makeup is programmed by cycles of feast and famine. As we have modified the world and the cycles of the world we haven’t modified our own internal drives to adjust to the eternal western feast of plentiful food, plentiful entertainment, plentiful sex, plentiful pleasure, plentiful plentiful! So we are ever enticed to gorge on what is spread before us – consuming and consummating through our every waking hour! The only thing we don’t get enough of is sleep and contemplation. Maybe if we indulged in those activities the world would be different? Fuck that – pass me a beer and let’s get naked!
1) It is all meaningless. Yes you heard me – none of this means anything. We may give it meaning, lend it meaning, imbue it with meaning. But in the end all we each experience is this cold reality: We are born and we move inevitably toward death. Everything else is optional. So go ahead – go enjoy the options!
Remember this final horrible realization:
0) There are no good choices and no bad choices – there are only choices and then there are consequences. No matter what – ANY choice you make is YOUR choice, and you have to accept both the pleasure and the pain of that choice. For as long as you shall live – for richer or for poorer. In sickness or in health. Until death sets you free.