Yesterday my partner and I were talking over lunch about my cycles of strictness and binging, when it comes to food. This is something I’ve come to see as a pathology in my behavior – particularly the binging part. If you’ve never seen me eat – I mean really eat (most people haven’t – Jeremy and my daughter may be the only people in this world who have ever been privy to this spectacle) – it’s quite the display.
Seriously, the level of gluttony I am capable of is striking.
When I am not binging (which is most of the time), I am also one of the strictest people I know when it comes to food choices.
As you can tell, the word “moderation” doesn’t resonate with me.
I love the idea of it, it seems like a stable and wise choice, and yet, in practice, I haven’t yet made my amends with it.
As we were talking, yet again, about binging and strictness, I heard myself saying something that I’ve been pondering ever since.
“Every religion I know of has a ritual fast,” I started, “a time of the year when we sacrifice the pleasures of the body for something higher, something other-worldly, a communion with the divine.”
There is something magical about fasting. That feeling of hunger can very easily springboard us into a bliss that is inaccessible when we are stuffed with food, heavy on this earth plane, bogged down in the physical.
When we are hungry, the colors look brighter, sounds are crisper. We feel more inspired.
And we all long for that transcendent experience, do we?
Perhaps this explains the popularity of intermittent fasting.
However, my mind turned to another, equal truth: “Every religion I know of also has their periods of feasting.”
And that period, for our contemporary culture in the United States (if we are not name just one), is the holiday season.
I spent my teenage years angry at all the gluttony that was happening around me, the apparent gluttony of the consumer culture, the irony that on Thanksgiving – the day when I most recall the bloodshed of the American indigenous – there is so much hoopla around eating.
As I mature (fingers crossed), I start to see the opposite truth that going too far in the direction of resisting earthly joys and pleasures is also a mistake, at least for me.
There is a sacredness in hunger, and there is a sacredness in the flesh. There is something pure about laughing around the table, something that doesn’t translate when I am counting the calories strictly.
There is something about enjoying the sense pleasures, together. And alone.
It is all a part of this wonderful experience of life.