Thursday, May 16, 2013

Three Months

It's three months now.

I have become the world's most boring person. In the morning I weigh myself and measure my waist, and enter the numbers in a spreadsheet; in the evening I conscientiously fill out my food journal. When I wake up I lie in bed for a while, solemnly considering my shopping and exercise plans for the day. I have become a self-contained system, a zero-sum human being: all my energy is subsumed in my own maintenance. I feel a bit lonely, a bit ridiculous. Stupid thing to be doing with my time. Was it for this?

The hardest part of all this is realizing that – while many of the constituent parts of fixing how I eat and exercise are in fact easier than I expected – in aggregate, it is simply a large and never-ending project. The most damaging of all my many damaging fantasies about this was that, if I only succeeded, it would become easy and automatic. At some point, I thought, the boat would hydroplane. It does not: at least, it does not within three months. It simply goes on thrusting through the water. It requires a lot of energy. Period. This is not going to change.

Why do I keep doing it? Sheer cussedness, for one thing. But also, in this as in so many other areas of my life, I am tired of living beyond my means, tired of the ominous sense that I am only getting along by storing up trouble for myself. I want a pay-as-I-go life, not an indebted one. So far this is – just barely – worth it. I like getting stronger, quicker, livelier. I like being unashamed.

But it also makes me feel old, vulnerable, ordinary, mortal.

I will learn what everything costs, says Dorothea Brooke. Well, it all costs quite a bit.


NT said...

Life: it's just one damned thing after another—or more accurately, it's often the same damn thing after another.

Personally, I resent how washing dishes NEVER ENDS. Come on! What is that?! You wash them, and then a few hours later THEY HAVE TO BE WASHED AGAIN.

I am not being sarcastic or facetious. This is something that perpetually bugs me. You'd think at my ripe age I'd have gotten over this, but I honestly haven't. Yup, I'm that much of an overgrown kid.

Beth said...

NT: that's funny. For me it's the laundry... Dale, wishing you fortitude. I am embarked on a concerted effort to stay off statins by losing some weight and eating more carefully. I'm determined to do this now rather than later, and yet, frankly, the dominant emotion is that I feel pissed off. So I need to get over it, and also to get the habit ingrained. I do believe they will; a few years ago I changed my sugar habits completely and while it was hard at first, it did get easier and eventually, just routine.

mm said...

Oh God, can I relate to this. You are not alone, dear Dale. Not the weight per se but the food.

I tell myself that foodwise I am laying the physical foundations of the next chapter of my life. And they'd better be solid or I'm sunk. I eat only the foods I'm supposed to and I take my probiotics and then it's all down to faith. Hopefully the guidelines will become more relaxed in time but I'm pretty sure today's eating "rules" will be the bedrock of my future diet. And that's OK. It has to be.

Sabine said...

Congratulations to three months! You are doing a good thing here and why should it not get easier eventually??? Of course it will.
As for the same damned thing after another, obviously there's the dishes and the laundry but weeding and cutting the lawn, agh, come to think of it: cutting my toe nails, it never ends.
Keep it up, you already enjoy looking after yourself - secretly.

Murr Brewster said...

A good friend says she finally conquered her snacking obsession, easily (says she), by stopping every time she got a notion to eat some crap and thinking: it's not hunger, so what am I feeding? And it always came down to some sort of stress or anxiety, however minor; and she allowed herself to feel that instead, and moved on. I haven't tried this, but I'm willing to believe it might be useful. Even possible, in a world without ice cream.

Phil Plasma said...

If you were the world's most boring person, you'd not have so many people replying to your posts.

I've heard it takes doing the same thing 21 days in a row to make it become a habit; I've never put this to the test, so I don't know if it is true (for me).

With respect to why you keep doing it, eventually such things can become so much a part of routine we can't recall what it is like to not be doing it.

Bella said...

I think going to a hypnotist to plant something in the subconscious mind so its automatic would be the solution! I quit smoking that way cold turkey and haven't looked back after 10 years! I didn't even have a physiological crave, and like you I need to lose a few pounds but constantly journaling everything is such a time buster for me! ugh.

marly youmans said...

Don't we all have trouble with the routines of life? Most of us are not monks who find grace in everything.

Dorothea paid a very high price for what she learned along the way, but all the same I've always loved her fate, which was not at all the fate of Mary Ann Cross, who in the form of George Eliot recognized that even the beautiful and the fine do not always find recognition: "Her finely touched spirit had still its fine issues, though they were not widely visible. Her full nature, like that river of which Cyrus broke the strength, spent itself in channels which had no great name on the earth. But the effect of her being on those around her was incalculably diffusive: for the growing good of the world is partly dependent on unhistoric acts; and that things are not so ill with you and me as they might have been, is half owing to the number who lived faithfully a hidden life, and rest in unvisited tombs."

So there you go: we can all be "incalculably diffusive." We can be true to the "unhistoric acts" which are our calling. I can think of many people who live "faithfully a hidden life," and my life is better for them.

Also, I have a very strong belief that a life that approaches tedium in its normalcy and regular schedule is a very fruitful life for a poet, once he/she has sown the wild, free oats of youth and suffered their consequences!

Dale said...

Thank you all!

NT, yes, dishes are my bete noire too. I have even begun to contemplate a dishwasher.

Beth, now the laundry, it all gets done as part of my work: as a massage therapist, basically you have laundry running all the time, and you barely notice your own clothes amongst the linens :-)

MM, yes, it gets more urgent! :-) xo

Sabine, you're right, it will get easier. But just on a linear scale, I think, like everything gets easier. I won't suddenly be lifted to a new state of being! Which I was sort of led to expect.

Murr, yes, I've found that somewhat helpful, some of the time.

Phil, yes! I've heard 100 days, too. Either way I should be there :-) And it's true, habit does pull with me now as often as it pulls against me.

Bella, yes, the sheer outlay of time! Though the tools are pretty good now. I use to track my food (although I pay no attention to their diet recommendations, which are drastic), and it really doesn't take long at all. 5 minutes at the end of the day.

Marly, yes! And the funny thing is that obscurity of that sort is in fact what I am looking for. Like Merton, I feel that my mission is to achieve a completely ordinary life.

marly said...

It's a question, isn't it, whether becoming what we call "ordinary" and then fruitful as a result is a destruction of "the ordinary life" or some kind of simple, natural grace given to it.