Day 339

1PM:

I thought that the concept of the Uncarved Block

“According to Lao-tse [author of the oldest existing book of Tao-ism], the more man interfered with the natural balance produced and governed by the universal laws, the further away the harmony retreated into the distance.  The more forcing, the more trouble. … Everything had its own nature already within it, which could not be violated without causing difficulties.  When abstract and arbitrary rules were imposed from the outside, struggle was inevitable.  Only then did life become sour” (Hoff, 4).

“The essence of the principle of the Uncarved Block is that things [and people] in their original simplicity contain their own natural power, power that is easily spoiled and lost when that simplicity is changed … ‘things in their natural state’” (10-11).

“When you discard arrogance, complexity, and a few other things that get in the way, sooner or later you will discover that simple, childlike, and mysterious secret known to those of the Uncarved Block: Life is Fun” (20).

“When we learn to work with our own Inner Nature, and with the natural laws operating around us … then we work with the natural order of things and operate on the principle of minimal effort.  Since the natural world follows that principle, it does not make mistakes.  Mistakes are made – or imagined – by man, the creature with the overloaded Brain who separates himself from the supporting network of natural laws by interfering and trying too hard” (69-70).

…spoke to disruptions in sex, in emotion, in fatigue signals being the result of my disruptions in hunger.  By automating hunger, I disautomated the things of which the universe takes care.  I created difficulties and struggle and sourness and spoilage and overload and separation by messing with hunger.

It does not appear that that’s the case.  Based on our mistakes learnings, the disruptions in my hunger appear the same as the disruptions in sex, emotion, fatigue, gentleness.  The disruptions in all these appear to be because of difficulties and struggle and sourness and spoilage and overload and separation brought on by me messing with the “a lot / too much” principle.  They’ve been caused by me walking a very fine line between taking on a lot and taking on too much, probably on the latter side much more often than I’d like to admit.

My Uncarved Block is buried in black gook.  Our road of recovery, the path to reclaiming healthy, is about washing and scraping and chipping away that blackness surrounding my ME.

Day 300

4AM:

I haven’t thought about this much, but I’m sure the thought has crossed my mind once or twice.  I run a breakfast program at my school, serving 150-200 students a day, so my philosophy runs counter to what a lot of teachers practice about eating in class.  My current batch of grade tens haven’t gotten used to eating throughout the day so that they aren’t hungry after 225 minutes of class straight, very often with a gym class in there somewhere.

I had my first Master’s class last night.  I ate before and came home hungry.  More than hungry though, I was tired.  I ate what I thought would be enough and given the quantity, I thought it would be.

I woke up an hour and a half ago.  I have not made it back to sleep.  I think I am hungry.  I have promised myself that I want to rest now, so I will not be getting up to grab something (even a drink of some sort).  I am exhausted, but I cannot even sleep because I am hungry.  Not famished, but it proves that in not eating enough throughout the day yesterday – being too busy to listen to my nature and act as my Uncarved Block – I could not make it through the night without being woken up and kept up by HUNGER.

I will lay in bed, tire my eyes and hopefully get to sleep soon.  I will wake up tired.  I will wake up and (hopefully) be strong enough to eat more, having not eaten enough the day before, if that is what my nature dictates.  I will wake up and (hopefully) listen to that nature throughout the day.  I will wake up and not forget.  I will wake up and not forget that if sleeping is difficult when you are hungry, imagine how hard learning can be?

Day 271

6PM:

Additions from friends, friends I have that are aware and well-intentioned and who care:

Workout Friend said something to me on the first day of this five-day resting experiment that he cannot let himself get exhausted because of the people he has that count on him to be strong and capable, a provider and a comfort.  I wish I had that same pull, or that I had a bad enough crash to convince me I cannot do that, or that I had an experience where I didn’t have to be everything (as I said to First Department Head today, there is a certain amount that needs to get done, and until I am bolstered, it will fall on me, I will take it on).  I am too stupid to fall down.  I should have before.  I should have this month!  Hopefully, this new resting structure will allow me to be strong and capable, a provider and a comfort, with all of my ability and heart and soul, so that I will never have to test how far…

I do have the ability to grow, to learn.  Mentor Mom and Old Work Wife told me that today, that I seem better with myself.  And I am, this is a more me version of me than they have ever seen.  I am far from the Uncarved Block, but we shall get there some day.  For example, I had a Skinny Vanilla Latte today – something I have not had since going vegan.  I haven’t, even though the foam is like tasting adult marshmallows, because the soy milk they use at Starbucks is sweetened.  However, because of testing my limits last week with grandmother’s lovely (but extremely sugary) soy milk delivery, I was able to enjoy a Soy Skinny Vanilla Latte (side note: seriously that expensive!!!).  I will keep growing, keep moving along this path of recovery: I made a choice today to not do the vacuuming.  I wanted to respect that two-a-day element of resting.  I wanted instead to make food for my wife to have while I was away, so I will trust what she said, that she would do what I couldn’t.  I trusted myself to be strong enough to not do it all and I will believe in her that she will tap into the strength she has inside.  If anyone knows how strong penguins can be…

…it is one fuelled by a Soy Skinny Vanilla Latte, a 5-ish mile run and the care of friends.

Day 250

6PM (+ some late night readings):

So, let’s talk about where we are:

  • One week in to this next stage of recovery, of reclaiming healthy
  • Eating breakfast, lunch and dinner
  • Having difficulty eating snacks or eating breakfast or lunch on time (not a “should,” but because I am ignoring hunger signals in favour of eating later)
  • Still worrying a little about portion sizes, but not as much as I thought I would and when I do think about it, it is not as disordered as I think it might be (i.e. having two components at each meal, like a salad and oatmeal or pasta and fruit bowl)
  • Cooking meals is a bit of a struggle, especially when I do ignore my hunger signals in favour of eating later (which was always the case when I let myself get too hungry/too weak), but doing major cooks-for-the-week when I wasn’t hungry and having my wife cook meals the first couple of days and Mom pitching in all helped
  • The voice of the blackness has shifted to:
    1. “You feel that you are getting fatter, you see that your stomach is less defined”
    2. “You shouldn’t eat that much, you shouldn’t eat that soon, you shouldn’t be hungry yet”
  • I have had glasses of wine in the last few nights, none of which was for calorie recovery, and as such, was relaxing and enjoyable (Saturday night, the second glass was for quieting the blackness, if only for a little bit – and guess what, it didn’t work)
  • I tried coffee yesterday and while it did kick my appetite for a little while, the impact later was that I was hungrier, like I had skipped ahead from Mile 2 to Mile 5 on the hunger trail without having to feel the Miles in between (but feeling just as hungry at Mile 5 as I would have otherwise)
  • Using the tools of recovery to keep from going crazy – exercise in moderation, leaning on my support system to talk, reading – but at times of weakness, the blackness still screams through

One of those tools provided some advice about the next steps on the path of recovery, to be used for the coming days and weeks and months of reclaiming healthy: The Tao of Pooh by Benjamin Hoff (or at least, the parts that speak to this – there is more that I will refer to in the coming days, I am sure).

“According to Lao-tse [author of the oldest existing book of Tao-ism], the more man interfered with the natural balance produced and governed by the universal laws, the further away the harmony retreated into the distance.  The more forcing, the more trouble. … Everything had its own nature already within it, which could not be violated without causing difficulties.  When abstract and arbitrary rules were imposed from the outside, struggle was inevitable.  Only then did life become sour” (4).

“The essence of the principle of the Uncarved Block is that things [and people] in their original simplicity contain their own natural power, power that is easily spoiled and lost when that simplicity is changed … ‘things in their natural state'” (10-11).

“When you discard arrogance, complexity, and a few other things that get in the way, sooner or later you will discover that simple, childlike, and mysterious secret known to those of the Uncarved Block: Life is Fun” (20).

“When we learn to work with our own Inner Nature, and with the natural laws operating around us … then we work with the natural order of things and operate on the principle of minimal effort.  Since the natural world follows that principle, it does not make mistakes.  Mistakes are made – or imagined – by man, the creature with the overloaded Brain who separates himself from the supporting network of natural laws by interfering and trying too hard.  Not like Pooh, the most effortless Bear we’ve ever seen.  ‘Just how do you do it Pooh?’  ‘Do what?’ asked Pooh.  ‘Become so Effortless.’  ‘I don’t do much of anything,’ he said.  ‘But all those things of yours get done.’  ‘They just sort of happen,’ he said.  ‘Wait a minute.  That reminds me of something from the Tao Te Ching … “Tao does not do, but nothing is not done.” … It means that Tao doesn’t force or interfere with things, but lets them work in their own way, to produce results naturally.  Then whatever needs to be done is done'” (69-70).

My interpretation: a quiet mind, a mind at peace goes with the flow of the river, of nature; for me, this means eating when I am hungry and not eating when I am not – listening to my nature – because when I interfere with this nature, that’s when interference happens to me.  If I ignore my hunger, it makes me feel distressed, amplifies those ghosts of self-harm and makes me more vulnerable to the blackness (as was the case on Friday, when emotions got a hold of me and I cried, often and a lot).  If I restrict during the day, it leads to desires to binge at night (or at least, as was the case Saturday and yesterday, leads to much-too-derailing confusion about not feeling physically hungry at 8PM; derailing because the what ifs start, stemming from the unpredictability and uncertainty, which is probably a less physical but just as loud and telling a sign of hunger – it is just less certain for my re-learning hunger/reclaiming healthy brain).  A little interference by me against my nature, a little interference in return from the universe.  No interference by me against my nature, my body will figure things out.  It will tell me if I am hungrier today, if I ate less yesterday.  It will tell me if I am less hungry today, if I ate more yesterday.  My nature will tell me if my physiology will require more food, if it is going through things that mean it needs more nourishment or if it doesn’t need as much that day. Trying to interfere with something natural – controlling the river – that’s the too many/bold lines that caused my colour to struggle against these lines over the past month.  Don’t get me wrong, because it is not time to throw everything out (the proverbial baby with the bath water).  The harsher lines (yes, interference) were needed before to counteract the even larger disruptions of the blackness and disordered behaviour, but it is only because these latter disruptions were interfering with my soul – now, they are not needed to the same degree.  This is not an immediate call to Zen or to find my inner Uncarved Block (the proverbial running before I can walk – or even roll over by myself, as the case may be), just a step on the path a few ahead of where we are.  For now, the harsher lines caused my vividness to suffer and the friction of that struggle threw the blackness into the front seat and me into the darkness. So going with the flow of the river, means no distress, no bingeing, no hurtful thoughts, just peace?  Accepting my nature with food, listening to my nature, will lead to realigning my nature with the other things (sex, love, sadness, rock and roll)?

For a Bear of Very Little Brain, you are a wise one Pooh Bear.  There is serenity in knowing that the thing that gave you comfort at age 3 still has the power to do so a quarter of a century later.