I’ve been trying a new modality for eating lately. The 5:2 diet, which I posted about previously. Basically, you do a soft fast (take in about 1/4 of your normal caloric intake) on two non-consecutive days each week. That’s it. The rest of the time all bets are off.
I got attracted to trying this out because of my fascination with habits and conditioning. I know I have lot of them around food and eating. It’s been a life-long battle (well, since I was 21 when I decided to do something about my poor relationship with food), and I know I still have a lot of digging to do there. This protocol seemed like a great way to bring those habits and conditioning into the light of conscious awareness.
I am in the midst of my third week, and Sunday was a fast day. I happen to love sushi. There is a corner “health” food store that stocks little trays of sushi made daily. Yummy stuff. So, on Monday I walked down there and got me a tray. Since this is the day after a fast, there’s a background of hunger that pervades most of the day (for me anyways.) I also happen to love chocolate, and this particular store sells some good varieties. I thought about that on the way to get my sushi. And then, I did not buy any. It was a very nonchalant decision. You see Monday is also the day I got to one of my regular games, and one of the two hosts cooks a yummy dinner. I did not want to interfere with relishing that, plus she sometimes makes desserts.
The thing that struck me was that there was no struggle in that. I am used to their being one. As I looked at what was making the difference, I realized that the culprits were permission and lack of a big deal. On this protocol I am trying literally no foods are off the list. Of course I also want to be healthy, and I could use to drop some pounds, but that’s not the point. The way I learned this diet came strongly with the idea of removing taboo from foods.
I have total permission to nom chocolate if I want to. Both from the protocol I have chosen, and from myself. And, suddenly chocolate has lost a lot of it’s attraction.
I think there might be a deep secret here. A thing (activity, item, experience, situation) is not a big deal unless you make a big deal out of it. When you make a big deal out of something, it’s a big deal. This insight, like many, seems simple when said. But, also like many insights, you don’t get it until you, yourself get it.
I am not saying that some things are not important. That’s a different issue. Justice is important. Health is important. Liberty is important. Love is important.
It’s just that when they become a big deal they take on an artificial weight that deforms their impact. Suddenly the injustice might seem insurmountable, and we give up the idea of standing against it. Suddenly the taboo sexual adventure becomes a big deal and we can’t get it out of our heads. Suddenly chocolate cake becomes a big deal, and we end up binging in secret to try to assert our freedom in some bizarre way. We become driven by these things because they are such a big deal.
I say, screw that. It’s not such a big deal. Nothing is. Not in that twisted and soul crushing way. Life is for living. Someday we all die. Before that point comes along there are things that happen. Some need handling. Being free of the “big deal” means I am more free to skillfully, and I daresay playfully, apply my experience towards their successful resolution. That way things get done, I have less stress, and it’s more fun along the way. I call that a win-win.
There’s an old adage, “There are two rules to life; Don’t sweat the small shit, and it’s all small shit.” Well, it may not all be small shit, but it’s also not a big deal.