day 23 Imagine the Future

I’m not a foodie. I don’t adore good food prepared well. I don’t use cookbooks much. In writing these 30 days of blogs, I can’t write as a food writer does. I don’t have a lot of insights born of being a cook, and I’m not fascinated by trying out recipes. I’m an eater, and I write about that experience.

Yesterday, I almost didn’t write a blog, even though this is 30 days of Produce, meant to be posted daily through June. 

I was wiped out yesterday. Instead of embracing that, I fought it. I have posted in my office a quote from a competitive triathlete who said, “You don’t have to push past your limit - you just have to reach it more often.” I love that idea, but the reality of being at my limit was still upsetting. Instead of saying, “Great! My limit! Time to rest, and I’m sure I’ll be better tomorrow,” I felt fear. I imagined a future in which I was always this wiped out.

Physically, I was toast. My butt and calves were so tight, they ached. I had so little energy that I don’t know if I could have run if a bear were chasing me. So after lunch, instead of, oh, say, resting, I ate ice cream and cheese cake. For me, this is not a healing diet and does not lead me to health and happiness. 

You know we eat what we see, right?  After days of staring at cheese cake in the fridge (my fault - I brought it home and thought the guys would polish it off in a few days), I was tired enough that I stopped making choices with my long-term health in mind. Think of will power as similar to muscles. They are not infinitely powerful; they work hard and then they stop working and need to rest. They need both fuel and rest, and so does our willpower. One week of staring at cheese cake + an emotionally and physically rich yet draining weekend = my prefrontal cortex simply could not do its job for me. 

I almost didn’t write the blog but I did. I’m so glad I wrote when I was too empty to write. The most interesting things can come up when I think I have nothing to say. When I was emptied of all ideas, the idea came to me. Food has a spirit, and I’m not paying attention. 

Check out this website. According to this site, “Almonds are sacred to the gods Thoth, Hermes, and Mercury and are said to bring wisdom and prosperity by stimulating intuition and insight through the Third Eye Chakra. Magical wands are often made of almond wood.” 

I have no idea if this writer is making it all up, but it’s fascinating anyway. This morning I ate a handful of almonds, and I didn’t once think about my intuition or insight. I didn’t begin my meal with a prayer. I didn’t infuse my cooking with spirituality or my eating with spirituality. My breakfast was functional, mundane, though pleasurable. 

Maybe that’s what’s waiting for me. Maybe that’s what’s next: eating with spiritual intention, with expanded gratitude. I could be listening not just to my body and my emotions, not just to my spirit, but to the spirit of the food, too. 

That sounds challenging. That sounds, like, umm, way too deep. Even still, I can see that future. I can imagine that future in which honoring my spirit and honoring the spirit of the food becomes easy and constant. Maybe that’s where I start, with imagining. 

When I was a kid, I ate very few fruits and vegetables. I ate carrots, ice berg lettuce, and apples. That’s it. In college, I began to expand. Now, each year, I add new fruits and vegetables to my Like list. I don’t suppose 15 year old me could have imagined a future in which the bulk of what I would eat would be fruits and veggies. 30 year old me might not have imagined the breakfast I had today, kale and millet with olive tapenade followed by fruit, nuts, and coconut yogurt.

Maybe you can’t imagine, yet, meals with so many vegetables or snacks filled with fruit. Maybe you can’t imagine eating based on intuition, or emotions, or spirit, or desire, or function. It’s an interesting part of getting older. Instead of thinking I’ve seen it all and know it all, I’m much clearer that there are surprises in front of me and that, no, I haven’t gotten to my limit.