Monday, October 9

Pushing the Plow

There is no time like the present, as they say.

It helps to realize the present is a gift indeed. The point of power is NOW, as Seth once said.

Today and yesterday I've run into the much more mundane side of my eating plan (don't say diet). Coincidentally (is there such thing really?), I've also gotten some great advice spontaneously from a couple others just at the very time I needed it most, about how to deal with it all even when the chips are down. Not that we would dream of eating chips, hahaha. (Thanks you guys.)

I've always thought that the big things in life were the easier things. You know, give me the do-or-die challenges, I'll bleed for the cause, no problem. I was the kind of teen that casually read the whole textbook in the first two days, aced the tests through the term -- and nearly failed for a lack of homework points (in part caused by reading Robert Heinlein et al. through the rest of the course). I think in some respects this sums up my life in many ways. I love big jobs and big tests. It's the long term stuff that makes me groan.

The real work of life is the day in, day out, seemingly endless stick-to-it-ness that defines "persistence" and "consistency." Those things are so much harder. The dogged day-by-freakin-day of it. It doesn't matter if we're talking about working on an eating plan or working on building a boat, working on a talent/skill or working on being a good parent. The toughest works in life for me are not the gigantic challenges to courage, competence or creativity that come along sometimes, but the death by a million papercuts of getting up and 'dealing with' it, whatever IT is, every day ... by endless day.

I always admired pioneer women. I always wondered what was in it for them. Work insanely hard through childhood, marry young, have too many kids, be essentially a slave from dawn till dusk with the kids and house and farm and food and usually die in childbirth. Nothing against men, but I think if it had been up to men to be that stoic our whole civilization would have died out before it even began. The ability to do the long-term shouldering of the drudgery of daily life and still be wily in bed and happy at holidays and sweet for the little ones is a distinctive quality of humanity of either gender, but throughout history, women have really borne the pain of it, in more ways than one. Sometimes when I am whining about feeling like I spend all my daily minutes on kid, house, food, work, and have no time left for me, for "a life" as I call it, I think about what my life would have been like born 200 years sooner. Or even 100 years sooner. Or for that matter, even 50 years sooner! All in all, I guess I have it pretty easy.

When you turn off the volume from all the philosophy and all the hype and enthusiasm about anything, including the great enthusiasm many share (and thank goodness for that!) about a shared eating plan, you find yourself standing in the deep puddle of The Now. Every moment is a decision. To eat, not to eat. What to eat. Even how to eat. Every day is a new start; is the first day of the rest of your life. Every meal is a chance to confirm your intentions for yourself vs. undermine your own confidence. There is no such thing as history except in our heads. In the real world, it is always the NOW. Decision is always in your court, every moment.

And some days, the decision has to be just to keep on keeping on. Even when nothing is going right in your life or on your scale. Even when nothing sounds good, when you're out of half your ingredients, when you haven't time to cook a meal, when you're exhausted, when it would be so damn easy to walk right across the street and have Taco Bell or McDonalds instead. When you stand in front of your open refrigerator until your eyeballs are getting frostbite and still nothing looks or sounds good, but knowing that maybe for your metabolism, skipping meals packs on pounds, and you better find something no matter how uninspiring. Consider it body-parts in teamwork: you gotta get it down your throat for the sake of your thighs.

When you are not inspired, when the scale makes you want to cry, when your journal buddies are ignoring you, when it seems like the world keeps going around and every day you just have another day of the same damn foods you've been boring yourself into culinary comatose with... you just have to be stoic. We are the pioneers of the brand new territory of our own potential. We are the frontiersmen of what we CAN be, if we can focus not on what we fear we might be lost in eternally, but on what we dream we could be eventually, and we start by being that, acting as-if, right NOW.
Every decision in the Now wears a groove in our forever.

Every moment is now. Right now, reading this, you are in the NOW. The present is the only place where you can change your life: what awesome opportunity! This is your point of power, of decision, of inspiration -- and yes, sometimes, of putting your shoulder into it and plodding on another mile when you already feel like you're worn to the bone. Sometimes, just eating another freakin egg or salad feels like getting up at dawn to push the plow. But we don't have to look at the road behind or the years ahead. We don't have to look at every food we've had and will have. Narrow the focus to the present: life is only the small segment of momentary awareness we call the NOW.

If I can start at 482 pounds and some days be crazy-weary over food and want to hide my head about the scope of my journey, I think other people can start wherever they are and survive the down days too. We're a stoic sisterhood (and brotherhood) of people who've pushed the plow of eating-plan determination in the ever-present Now long enough to know it's worth it. I will make good decisions, because it's me in control of making them, because living in the present allows me to change my life.

Every good decision we make wears a neural pathway in favor of our tenacity, in favor of our determination. Every decision in the Now wears a groove in our forever. "Be here, now," as the Eastern sages say: every moment is now, and the now is always.

I'll push the plow another day.

There is no time like the present... and the present is a gift indeed.

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