Do you? Lately (and by “lately,” I mean: always), I’ve marveled at people who not only want to be healthy, but who take the necessary steps to get there. It’s this second bit that always astonishes me, because of course anything I can’t do *must* be astonishing.
So. Let’s say you had a chronic autoimmune disease with treatments that are arguably worse than the disease, though it’s a close call, and since both—the disease and the treatment—could kill you over time with varying degrees of probability, you often find yourself hunched over your keyboard at night, typing madly. Let’s say one thing that could actually help came in the form of lifestyle change. Wouldn’t you do it? Wouldn’t any sane person do it?
I’m talking about . . . cooking.
The other night, in rare deference to the “no gluten, no dairy, no sugar, no legumes, no anything store bought or toxic in a 21st Century kind of way” diet I’m supposed to be on, I made honey-glazed pork chops with rice and green beans. This was the most elaborate meal I have made in at least a year, and I hated every second of it. The grease from the chops went everywhere. The counter was a mess. The rice vinegar I had to buy especially for this dish seemed to have expired or does it always smell that rancid? I overcooked the beans. And the chops. Oh, and the rice. The recipe told me to “make the glaze while the pork chops rest.” Nanu, nanu. I probably used 5 dishes for one person—Mess! Inefficient! Multiple utensils. It took 45 minutes to prepare, 3 minutes to eat (I eat incredibly fast because I don’t like food, remember?) and another 25 minutes to clean up. 70 minutes of joyless work for 3 minutes of joyless eating. That’s 73 minutes I could have been doing something else I actually care about. But wait, why don’t I care? Remember the hideous autoimmune condition that is being placated by my efforts?
This is what I’m talking about—the mindset of a normal person who takes *pleasure* in or at least endures the 73 minutes because they are keeping her out of the hospital and maybe even galvanizing her best life! Blah.
If I restate things as: “I want to be well but can’t seem to take the necessary steps to get there,” the natural takeaway might be: well, maybe you don’t want to be well. Or: maybe you DO want to be well, but you want something else MORE.
But is that really true? What traditionally stops people from venturing anything is fear—of failure or success—but couldn’t there be something else at play here? Whatever I come up with doesn’t seem right. The impulse to self-destruct is stronger than the will to thrive. Nah (maybe?). How will I explain my isolation if I can’t blame it on my body? Nah. Resentment of being in this position is so intense, it’s subverting any effort to change things? Nah (maybe?) And so on.
People are so messed up! What I mean is, these interrogations of self might appear navel-gazing (they are!), but really they just proxy for thinking about the insoluble and the humane. Though of course if anyone wants to tell me what the hell is wrong with me, I won’t say no.