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'Outside the Loop'
A 40 Day Dietary Record

June 1 through July 10 2005

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Day 15 June 15
Second two weeks

A quiet stillness. The children are away. I have slept away my afternoon. The body rolls, with rippling of aches and unwinding joints, after a midday unscheduled sleep.

The noise of fears and un-pleasantries, the banter of my subconscious, kicks cans in my head. My little bad-boy brain rumbling, about this and that.

'The elephant in the room', 'the eight hundred pound guerilla' I have attempted to ignore, is caught off-guard in the corners of my eye. I see my own reflection, as I dress he appears, reflected in another mirror seen from behind, this enormous man.

He must weigh so much. I recognize him. His heavy breathing. His attempts to make light of a dark situation. A kind, though slightly neurotic sort, with an unpredictable mood and sardonic underpinning. Not exactly the sort to run a preschool or whistle while he worked.

I wonder how he crept inside my youthful self image. How could such a big man come to occupy such a little space without me not noticing? I am afraid to call out to him. Though, when I do, he seems so gentle.

A benevolent dictator generously smiling, while armed to the teeth for tactical maneuvering. I seem so tense, as if poised for some emotional war. So much baggage for such a weak willed man to carry. I would laugh at him, this me in the mirror, if I weren't so concerned I’d crumble from self incrimination.

Day 16 June 16
The Elephant in the Room

Why should anyone be so insecure, so unsure in himself surrounded by so many assets? Perhaps that is why we rotund have so much strapped to our bones, so much bulk built up around these strained internal organs. Some kind of buffoon's armor, a madman's attempt to shield against psychological demons.
How comical.
Yet I hate when you laugh...

A pathetic paradigm, no wonder this fatso is so uptight and bewildered. Locked in his own defenses, against a world which really loves him. Why would anyone want to be the fat man? Wouldn't I just rather undress from this costume of bolus, and join the human race?

I can't imagine what solace I had hoped to find hidden under all this dreadful weight, knowing how many years I may lose on this life... Knowing how painful a life my mother lead before her early death.

So many eyes each day saying how they disapprove, or simply in wonder at the mass I am. How much rejection can one man take, before he decides to join in, and pay the dues of normalcy?

And how I dread the thought of that, of being dethroned from the armored carrier I have come to call home. To walk among this suburban subterfuge of normalcy, the real world of 'every-day-ism' that surounds my palace of superiority, my psyche hurts. Inside myself, I feel shielded in delusions of grandeur, outside myself lurks a lumpen proletariat, reminding me of my own short-come-up-ins.

Cutting the apron string of self-importance, taking on the adult responsibility of proper self maintenance, and leaving the motherly love of life in oral deliverance.... Giving-up the luxurious tactile fulfilment of soft creamy submergence, for the cold shower smack-around of healthy living.

To jaw stoic meals and withstand mundane repetitive movements... how the thought of dieting, and its wicked sister strenuous activity, incites me to react. I want to run to the refrigerator, just at the thought of responsible eating... Just the notion of going to a gym hurls me back in bed. How much I hate even the rumination of a regenerative healthy alternative.

Day 17 June 17
Life Style Revolution

In my heart now, I am working with the premise that there is some way I can recreate myself, to become more physically active. That there is a simple and effective change, which will allow me to be fit for life.

In my head I am racked with doubt, and want to cry out doom and forboding. In my heart I cling to a hope. I can muster the chutzpah to make the right choices, despite the sacrifices it may entail, find the perseverance, to make it all work... To make me work out.

I live out, this mini-drama, every meal that I take, every day that slips by without any visible change. My heart reaches toward models of behavior that illustrate success, but inside a sinister skepticism keeps my jubilance at bay.

In the wee hours of dawn, when I take my children to the train station for their long commute to school, I see a man who walks down the long and precarious road from our mountain home. I worry for his safety as the cars whizz by, yet admire his gumption and initiative. Obviously he has bucked the assumption of car or bus, for the survival of his cardiovascular system.

This rebel on the narrow highway reminds me daily of the power of initiative, our fundamental autonomous nature, which grants us the inevitable right to take life by the balls, and create our own rules for survival. So clearly the path of least resistance is fraught with hazards, and, in the end, it will be the path of highest integrity which will win out.

Though few choose this high road, I must, or pay the consequence. What I am asking myself to do is nothing short of reinventing myself. Clearly any stop-gap measure will only service eventual failure, when old patterns move to bury my successes. I need to watchfully plan, eyes wide open, knowing all too well my weaknesses.

I need a master plan, designed for a troublesome child in a very large body... a willful brat that does not take well to education and discipline, who loves languishing in slothful inactivity, while guiltily hiding his gluttony with a confessional-style diary.

If I insist on writing myself out of my mental box, beyond the bars of my own limitations, I must write a flawless constitution with binding arbitration. To be an arbitrator between the realities of my weaker nature and the aspirations of my soul. A constitutionalist with the foresight of our forefathers, and the
tactical brilliance of a spiritual master, in establishing a creed with longevity.

If I insist on talking myself out of this fix, it must be to give myself a good talking to, and fix fast the foundation of my future. Anything short of success is a prayer rug for some Goddess of failure. I must call on all my powers, to find whatever it will take, to make my transition into healthy living absolute.

If I am to pray, it must be without these cynical loop-holes of a lapsed believer, but with the mad commitment of a man with his head on the chopping block. Pray as a man with no intention to perpetuate martyrdom. Not as a sacrificial lamb for the sophist causes of market consumerism or self-destructive neurosis, but as a proud revolutionary.

When I pray, my words must circle back and hit me right in my third-eye, pop me into full-consciousness... upper hook me into taking action. The prayers need to work. They must represent a proactive commitment to why I want God to intercede into what is intrinsically my responsibility.
Day 18 June 18

"Being in that place is like a 'valley' energy. You are relaxed and open, you are green, full of life, radiant, but you are not going to do anything, you are not trying to impress anyone, you just are. And that 'just are', that is-ness, as it is called, or Tathata, Suchness - is the power of true life."
Michael Barnett from "With It"

Waking in the morning so often feels like rising from a battle, a lost battle, in which all of one's strategic short-comings come back in a flash of self-incrimination.

It is difficult to believe that the earth, humanness, is a perfection upon itself. Yet this is the very state of Satori that so many of us have experienced, so many of us claim to be the very foundation of our aspirations, our theological linchpin.

If one logically follows through with the premise of many of the world religions, there appears this notion of perfection in goodness, a God essence, that must be by definition, and experiential referencing from states of bliss, perfection.

A dieter, on the other hand, works from the premise of imperfection. There is something wrong in the way the body is in the moment, and in the way the body has been maintained. There is even an imperfection that extends into the future, with the assumption of failure. To move the psychological perspective of the dieter from imperfection, feeling a failure, to a knowing in the moment of perfection, is a subtle and crucial step.

The dieter needs to experientially comprehend that when a dieter is dieting, that this is a state of perfection. To be conscious of an ill and to be moving towards a solution, with ones mind and body united in the struggle, life is as it should be.

I believe, because the dieter often has failed in the past, there is a lack of faith in both the self and the process. And this lack of faith creates in the action of dieting a general disbelief, undermining the possibility for a peaceful acceptance of the inevitable challenges. The dieter becomes his own worse enemy.

When we help someone else, if we have compassion for them, we recognize, however they are in the moment, they are still worth helping. We move to solve their immediate problems. We find joyful perfection in this act of charity, because we believe in the process, the potential. We know the bliss of giving.

It is with this same compassion, in which we lend a stranger a hand, that the dieter must help oneself. Whatever hard feelings and disappointments we have with our own weaknesses and past failings must be overcome. We need to compassionately look at ourselves with a loving heart of forgiveness and the firm hand of a caring parent.

To endlessly judge and belittle is counterproductive. To help but assume the other hopeless is futile. There needs to be an inner faith in the inherent beauty and potential of the self to make dieting effective. One needs to like the dieter, despite all past transgressions.

So often the obese are filled with self-loathing. So often we no longer trust ourselves to do the right thing and sense some fundamental flaw in our character which corrupts our aspirations. For us to recognize the subtle genius in our longing for perfection, the brilliance in our small unsteady steps against a torrent of doubt and despair, is a miraculous beginning, worthy of respect.

Compassionate recognition and acceptance of an often unlovable self, this giant step of self-respect for the dieter, may be, for many of us, the toughest step of all.

Day 19 June 19
Getting Real

Another wonderful lecturer on LamRim.com Internet Radio and I am reminded in choosing goals within my goals. To avoid 'pie-in-the-sky' aspirations, like 'instant enlightenment' verses 'daily practice' or as in my case 'quick-fix sexy-thinness' verses 'simple healthy living'.

If I may borrow Buddhist termonology, it is in the beginning better to avoid negative karmic activity, and then later as I mature use positive karma to fill-out my self education. Better to avoid the most flagrant abuses of my health from moment to moment, before initiating any highfalutin diet plan.

A good looking plan designed to fail is a psychological trick we all have tried before. A plan which I know is pragmatically impossible is a sophisticated way to be bad 'while looking good'... A technique I use all too often in my life.

While I may aspire toward saintly activity, such as fasting or performing some demanding physical challenge, practically speaking, I need more work in moderating 'unpleasant' characteristics, by mastering the small moments. The fasts and pilgrimages of my youth do more to feed my ego now than provide clues for daily survival as a middle-age parent.

I need to learn ways to fix the little details in my present home life. What to eat when hunger strikes. How to be prepared for energy drops during the day. How to get physical activity spread through out a car and computer-centric lifestyle. How to confront my adverseness to exercise with joyful alternatives. How to use my energy for good instead of outbreaks of anger.

Anything too showy is just that, just for show. Counteracting sloth and mindless consumption, within my every day world of home and work, should prevail over any showy display of virtuous sacrifice.

Obviously I have a very high opinion of myself. I line myself up on the upper rungs of any social step-ladder, whether as a teacher, lover, friend, or spiritual seeker. So when I envision a diet, I imagine some pure state of denial and spiritual courage. I imagine myself as a Jain Saint fasting to death or as a rugged tanned climber on the foothills of Everest.

Clearly, this is a silly delusion and an immature self-image, fanned by an unbridled ego. Or to put it another way, I am a middle-age homeowner trying to lose weight, while maintaining his family's middle class life style. 'Get real!' Skip the fad diets and theatrics of sacrifice, and just do the right thing, day by day, moment by moment.

The real work in deiting is in the details. Where we find him, our old friend, the devil.

Day 20 June 20

I wake in the early evening feeling I needed to get to work. What time did I fall asleep? My days broken like old pottery on the walk way. Work pulls me back into the rhythm, an erratic beat, like an errant heart.

Moderation, the 'Middle Way' of Buddha, a reassuring harbor in the storm of the mind. Food is fuel and so can incite mayhem in the world of dreams. Over-eaters are riot provocateurs, terrorists armed with toxic fatty tissue strapped to our chest.

One of the first steps to dieting is creating normalcy. When in the manic state of over-eating the organs vacuum up all accessible food, drawing in the debris of chemicals and impurities rabid in most modern food products.

Careful reflection on the actual ingredients employed in just one day's oral intake sets the score straight. From fluoride water in the morning, sweetened or salted or chemically preserved enhancers all day long, come sleep and we are drugged and dowsed completely in mind-altering debris.

Modern man is under siege.

Moderating our daily menu, by embracing simplicity, and retracing our steps back into a different time, perhaps this can save us. Our biology was developed in a simpler era. Not so long ago, when all foods were organic, when modification meant cooking with herbal spices, the choices were different.

Longevity has come with refrigeration of food stock and the discoveries of miracle medications. Longevity has brought the potential for countless marriages, and the inevitable witness of the natural out-come of our indiscretions. We now will live long enough to reap the rewards of our inproprities.

While our ancestors lived hard and died young, tumbling from the arms of their mothers into a life of labor, child rearing, and then death by forty, we will linger to ninety. We will see the cigarettes we smoked and the cream-puffs we consumed in the bloody stool of our bedpans. We will wobble with walkers into the sunset, our drips being pulled behind us, like symbolic umbilicus to our surrogate mother modern medicine.

Therefore we must answer the challenges of our time, the onslaught of consumer-targeted profiteers and disingenuous professionals, and educate ourselves in the basics. We are being asked to be ronin, masterless samurai, warriors against a hostile food culture that wishes to lead us into a life of chemical dependency.

Training is everything in our struggle to survive with dignity, and to die into deliverance. Onward into our later years, we must be armed with wisdom and disciplined in the way of weight-watching. May the force be with us, before regrets will us into a despairingly long demise.

Day 21 June 21
Captured in the Moment

If others are like me, then I suppose many people wonder what all the constant talk of meditation is all about. How could something so simple and so accessible be so transformational, be so essential? And why too, if meditating is so miraculous, why aren't Asian cultures more advanced? After all, they have been meditating for thousands of years.

And while I love my whining voice that grants me permission to avoid all meditative moments... Allowing me to lean back with a cappuccino and slip into more comfortable thoughts... I must confess, I know why people meditate. I know too why I don't.

Meditation is seldom easy and often painful. I am not only referring here to the cross-legged straight back sort, which is decidedly better for you and so predictably more awkward for fatso-types. But even the Americanized straight back chair variety, where physical pain has been minimalized for the culturally infirm.

While it is true meditation sessions are often awkward eternities for the unfit, the real culprit is being left alone and fully awake. I am absolutely convinced being alone in the moment, to witness first hand the inconsistencies, the normalcies, the petty simplicity, of our humdrum lives is hardest part of reflective silence.

Yes, I know again I am whining and leaning back into my thoughts, yet it must be said. Meditation is unbearable, for the very reasons it is successful. Just as exercise reminds me of all that I have neglected to do. Just as moderating my eating reminds me of how much a slave I am to my desires.

Each time I try and climb a staircase, my body feels the aches in my joints and the fury of an over taxed heart. Every day as I stoop to pick up something from the floor, I here the warning messages of a million ardent coaches chastising me to try, more often and harder. When I meditate, or even try to meditate, I see again the unbridled fury of a consciousness content on being intoxicated.

Meditation wants me to calm my beloved wild horses and sit among their dung. Meditation asks for nothing except an acceptance of what I have left undone, to witness my neglected fears and pent up frustrations, and settle in to the heat of awareness. I find it all so unbearable, and so run from the zabuton with the same ferocity as my son avoids the dishes.

If I could avoid this moment, as I avoid facing my food addictions and my aversion to exercise, I probably would. But meditative awareness keeps calling. Like with the cry of our new born, we know we have had our fun and now must take full responsibility for our choices. I know what needs to be done, and meditation is an essential part of the holy trilogy of dieting.

Day 22 June 22
A triology of Solutions

Moderation, awareness, and practice, as an acronym and a slogan, my treasure MAP to blissful moments. As unpleasant as the act of meditating may be for me, what choice do I have? Besides the same old wrong choices that have brought me here. I hate the thought, and feel tired just considering the task, but this is where I am right now. Either I take my life in hand or my health will continue to dissolve into death.

I watch daily now in my fifties, as diabetes, arthritis, gout, cholesterol build-up, a fatty liver, depression, fatigue, and a gamet of other obese man symptoms steal away my liberties. I have begun the ritual of accumilating debilitating symptoms and dragging them to a clinic where I dutifully dictate them all to a doctor.

After a series of blood tests, heart and organ examinations, and a bit more exposure to x-rays, he or she prescribes a battery of medications, for gout, high blood pressure, pain, inflammation, or preserving erection. And then again before leaving, as a parting shot across my bow, I am told to lose weight.

by a doctor, who has said eat right and exercise, along with stop smoking, and/or drinking, to the last thousand middle-age patients that have sheepishly entered and sat for consultation. And we always know we should, and most often we don't listen, because some how we feel this life we are living is out of our hands.

Somehow we have come to think that the tread mill we are treading is an absolute. That our choices are few and the differences insignificant. If we ever dared to get off this darn conveyor-belt, all hell would break loose, and we'd tumble into some hell of inconvenience and discomfort.

So instead we let pain and infirmary give us the break we deserve but can't ask for. We force ourselves into moderation and obedience by allowing symptoms to bury us in a nest of nastiness. We become walking road maps of subtle self-destruction. Trophy cabinets of self abuse, we stand hobbled with lower back pain and swollen ankles. We share stories of pace-makers, stint operations, and gout attacks with relish. Like veterans of colonial wars, we share our stories of the body.

We are haunted by the sins of sloth and gluttony we have committed. Done for the false glory of a self-indulgent ego, and servitude to this unreliable master. We seek penitence in our prideful boasting. We are a big bulging bundle of inconsistencies. Like bad boys in the playground, we take pride in the way we have damaged and abused so much in our small world. When all along, all we wanted was to be loved and held by absentee parents, and to be seen for who we are.

And now, as adults, we have come to understand, our job has always been to provide that love, our own task to pay attention. The discipline we craved, and fought so hard against, was always meant to be self-administered from a compassionate self-loving mindfulness.

Day 23 June 23
Anxiety and the Obese

Lucinda Bassett created a successful and lucrative lecturing career, from first overcoming her own phobia and then from teaching others how they too can learn to cope. She proved by example how to prosper, despite an onslaught of neurotic symptoms.

Her neurosis was called Agoraphobia, also
known now as panic or anxiety attacks... an experience of intense anxiety, disproportionate to the actual dangers inherent in our lives. Perhaps many of us have tasted these symptoms from time to time, when we get carried away over little things until we have worked ourselves into a frenzy.

Bassett studied her illness. She learned the source of her panic attacks and proceeded to learn as much as she could about coping. She began taking control of her life. She now runs a profitable program, cognitive behavioral in nature, to teach what she has learned.

Her organization teachs clients to recognize behaviors and reactions and offers tools to change those negative anxiety producing habits, strategies which help to alleviate neurotic symptoms and calm fear. While listening to her recordings, I saw in myself how a mini-panic-attack in the beginning swirls into an obsession.

At first I feel overwhelming hopelessness in curbing my appetite and preventing my over-eating, and then deep guilt for being this way. Yet I feel I MUST eat, and finish absolutely everything on my plate. I experience this when I try to regulate my eating. Others must find this laughabe but this comical calamity is real for me.

I see this unnecessary 'over-reaction' in much of my daily activities... buffoonery gone ballistic. I could learn much from a good anxiety maintenance program. I wonder now how many similar stories there are in the life of the chronically obese with those prone to anxiety attacks and depression. Perhaps too we can share solutions.

I recall as a child how amusing it was watching my mother's absolute terror of bridges, mountain roads, airplanes, amusement parks rides, etc. Her little tornados of panic, which we loved to tease her through.

Later I saw how I too might panic in claustrophobic situations. Experientially a suffocating feeling comes over me and I feel my fears building exponentially. My sisters too have developed similar anxieties over the years. But of course, when these fears became our own, we no longer find them funny.

Thankfully my siblings and I never been completely debilitated by these little fears. Occasionally we become the stick-in-the-mud when our nervous fears prevent us from joining in on the fun. But we have all managed to cope.

Often, though, I see where I exaggerate the risks inherent in my simple daily tasks, and how I over-compensate, with unnecessary anxiety. My children have become my barometer. When they sense my building pressure, they tell me not to relax, asking me to completely check out my options before working up to a tizzy.

Day 24 June 24
The Nuance of Neurosis

I sense there is a 'not-so-subtle' correlation here... A logical king pin to my explosive anger over petty things which threaten my authority, my fear of confinement in small or crowded places, my morbid dislike of exercise, and my obsessive lust for feeling stuffed.

It is as if these are all pieces of a puzzle and, once I begin to take control of my life, start self-mastering my various faults, a cathartic whole will emerge. Then I wonder, isn't this just more of the same 'anal retentive' control-freak jive speak?

This professed faith in some future 'silver bullet' solution could be a psychological device to buy more time, so that I may continue to enjoy my vices... to save me the trouble of actually practicing what I preach.

It is apparently amusing for me to find these mental loops and dance around them in my head, yet invariably I have faith in this process of research. I feel by maintaining a vigil of attentiveness I will find my solutions.

Since everyday I must contend with my fat reflection In the dresser mirror. It is me who suffers the huffing and puffing as I climb up the stairs, arriving in my classroom, there infront of my students, dishevelled and out of breath. I am the one aching and snorting when I do my housework, like an old pregnant cow. It will be my pauses which will become pregnant, when I finally learn to watch what I eat, when I remember how to dance again.

It will be the me I now only envision, feeling healthy and trim as I enthusiastically volunteer to jog around the block with my kids, to walk gleefully down the hill to the store, and high step back with vigor. I want to believe all this is not just manic-depressant hyperbole. When I feel these exhilarations to be physical again, I need to believe that there is a formula to follow. A life pattern which will help me maintain a happy relationship with exercise and creative physical expression.

My task then is to keep at it. Digest my Napoleon Hill and Lucinda Bassett audios and keep reaching out for more. Perhaps in this lust for insight I can fall through my window, into an experiential breakthrough.

It is true, at this moment of time, while I am still locked within my obese form, this is all just manic bull. But in time, I believe it will be grist to whole grain truths. I envision myself becoming one with this quest, an expert of decisive action leading my reluctant form upward to greater heights and smaller scale numbers.

My aspirations are so trivial in the greater scheme of things, yet so monumental in scope. A playful whirlwind now provoked by insignificant angry moments relinquished to a predisposition for joy. I want to be fun again. I want to laugh deeply again, feeling my body shake and my heart warm with innocence.

There is such a bright playful lilt sung in the corners of my stoic universe. Just there on the periphery I can hear the happy tones of the children, feel the winged birds encircling my stone image, calling it back to the warm sunlit days of animated movement.

Day 25 June 25
Lost in Labor

Blessed by a day free, free to focus on my home, I again could lose myself in the joy of working hard. Though now I ache, it is a pleasant discomfort, a taut muscular soreness.

There is always so many options, so many wonderful options, to do on weekends. But for the home owner there is a special need to make the nest just right... To forego the delicious distractions of going out and staying in, to clean.

A home needs to be a focal point of human activity, either as a retreat from the street or a dynamic family center. Otherwise it will become a stone around our necks in a whirlpool of chores. Today was one of those rare days where I could retreat into the tasks of home maintenance and truly enjoy the leisure of satisfying labor.

Fortunately I am an easy boss when getting myself to perform. Dishes, laundry, making bread, trimming hedges, all glide together in happy unison when the pressure is off and the kids are away.

I wonder if life could be this way more often.

A friend made a suggestion made before. To promote exercise on a regular basis, why not get a dog?

As a family that travels extensively, perhaps this is a foolish notion. Yet it is undeniable how much happiness our cat Emmy has brought into our lives. Also I feel guilty that my children have never experienced the joy of being owned by a dog.

So with my quest for pleasurable leisure, activities that will help me exercise, I am now considering letting a dog enter an already busy life. In the hope, this will make walking a regular part of my daily activity... a gentle loving nudge to get out the door and get my body to move more.

Day 26 June 26

When the doctor suggested I had Hypertension, I assumed he meant I was very tense. I already knew I was uptight, so this didn't phase me. It got a bit more scarey when after a 'google' I realized this is a category of cardiovascular disease. I generally do not consider myself to have heart trouble, after all, I always cry at the movies. I do wake up each morning with poor circulation in my fingers and feet. But that would suggest I have hyper-untension.

I was prescribed blood pressure medicine and a nurse friend promises to get me a gadget which I can wear on my wrist, to monitor my 'Been Bad' numbers. Keeping track of circulation is no longer just the headache of magazine advertisers. I now have a mystical relationship with the magical systolic 140 and diastolic 90. Ask your Numerologist for details.

According to th National Institute of Health "Lifestyle changes may reduce high blood pressure, including weight loss, exercise, and dietary adjustments." Where have I heard this before...

"Lifestyle changes that may help control high blood pressure:

  • Lose weight if you are overweight. Excess weight adds to strain on the heart. In some cases, weight loss may be the only treatment needed.

  • Exercise to help your heart.

  • Adjust your diet as needed. Decrease fat and sodium -- salt, MSG, and baking soda all contain sodium. Increase fruits, vegetables, and fiber."
Yes, I've heard it all before, but what will it take for suggested lifestyle to merge with the actual? For now, I continue to watch my behavior to get-a-handle on where I go wrong.

I can make this all right. Feeling alright is both my goal and the name of the game. Goodness is in the feeling, good choices producing good results, to feel good more often.
Day 27 June 27
Depression and Anger

It comes like a wave. Usually I am tired and feeling guilty about being tired. I feel or see myself being grumpy. I see myself use the expressions my dad would use when he was distracted, feeling annoyed yet not completely expressing it. And then, almost out of left field, an explosion of anger.

Something was eating me. A deep disappointment... too many expectations... as if coming off a manic high of confidence... an edgy wish to keep pushing on but not having the energy. Then pop, four letter words and attack on whoever is pushing my buttons... but they were just being playful... or curious... or restless... or into their own world and were not expecting my fury.

And it simmers... seeking justification... finding it in the expression of disappointment in others... alienating family, friends, students, strangers. The stomach is taut, acidic, the shoulders tight, like the jaw, bound and ready for a fight. But the world never wanted a fight. I was the one who was angry. I was the one insane with my own issues, bubbling behind the scene.

The childish misbehavior is not forgivable for a man in his fifties, just as it wasn't worth forgiving in the past cesspool of similar events. People try, they try because I am not always this way. Only my children and closest friends know of my madness. Only in my low points does it appear. But low points can come at anytime. My emotions a crapshoot.

So a good day has been spoiled and this makes everyone sad.

Day 28 June 28
Active with Joy

I am climbing out of sleep, a long enough length to measure a bit of overtime on the clock of dormant dreams. Joy is being lost in playful relevance, a trick of the body being actively tolerated despite the discomforts... With the mind acting as cheerleader, "Come on you old cow, keep up now."

When did I stiffen into a board? When did I get this aversion to bending, squatting, walking... this dis-ease of dis-comfort? Wasn't it only a couple of years ago I was... Oh, never mind... What do I intend to do about it today? Surely even old cows can be made limber.

If I had complete freedom... Don't I already?... Freedom is a feeling, a confirmation, an exhilarated sense of well being.

Alriight then, what then would it take to feel completely free again?

Less concern with the material objects that surround me. A security that I have what I need when ever I will need it. Not always so preoccupied with the maintenance and cleaning of so many 'things'. Having only what is relevant to the moment in front of me, and not being disturbed by the rest.

Are you saying then, you want to free yourself from the responsibilities of the homeowner and live again as a monk, carrying only what you feel essential?

No and yes. In the spirit of a monk, a minimalist's sensibility, because this is ecologically sustainable, yet with the multi-tasking skill of family father, leading with finesse, taking on the responsibility of ownership with delight and abounding enthusiasm. To be brave enough, to feel the responsibilities of freedom and yet carry that weight with a dignified exuberance. Leadership by example, following my ethos with humility and grace.

I want to continue to do what I do, just do it so much better.

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