Saturday, September 27, 2008

Veg Out!

I guess you could say I've had the good karma of being raised vegetarian. To be specific, lacto-ovo vegetarian. I am grateful for this and it's something that I feel good about mentally as well as physically. I've never had the desire to try meat, it just doesn't appeal to me, and I don't ever intend on becoming a carnivore. This is just my personal upbringing and my personal choice. I have no judgements for anything anyone else chooses to eat or not eat but I do feel like it may be time for a little shift in my own diet, a shift towards veganism.

A couple of years ago, when I was still in school, I took an environmental studies class and my eyes were opened to all kinds of issues I was unaware of as well as a world of things I could do to make an impact! It was great! One of the outcomes of this was my own research and interest in veganism. I read, watched and listened to everything I could and once the information was there, the decision was easy. I was so touched by the profound impact a vegan lifestyle could have on animals, the environment and humanity that I broke down one day and cried for almost an hour for all the harm I was causing. This may seem a little dramatic, I know, but I was moved on a deep level. That same day I donated all my leather products to Goodwill, cleaned out the fridge and started my life as a vegan.

It wasn't one of those things that I had to force myself to do (at first), it was actually quite easy. I was inspired, motivated and self-righteous. I felt amazing inside and out, I found a whole community of support and it didn't hurt that my live-in boyfriend at the time was into it with me. I did this for a year and towards the end of that year I could feel my motivation fading. I just wasn't as into it as I was before, I was overloading my diet with soy and feeling imbalanced and all it took was some fancy French cheese to tip the scale. My French teacher at the time had brought it to class and I just decided then and there, "I want it".

Unfortunately, being the all-or-nothing type of girl I am, this day became the turning point for me... back into the world of dairy. I re-incorporated cheese, milk and other dairy products but eggs still grossed me out for a long time. Eventually I desensitized myself even more and started eating eggs again too! It's such a strange thing to consciously do what you know is [in a way] lazy and harmful but I did it and have never looked back... until now.

Last night I was on the phone with a Buddhist monk for over an hour, (trust me it's not my typical Friday night either). During our conversation I brought up the whole vegan thing, how I felt confused about the fact that I could feel so strongly about it at one point and so unmotivated at another and to make a long story short, I'm going to try the middle way! Instead of using my usual cold-[tofurkey] method I'm going to try something new. Oh, my god! Maybe I am changing with the season like I had hoped! On the suggestion of this monk I'm going to be veganish.

He suggested I start by devoting one meal a week to being vegan and slowly build from there. The idea isn't to build rapidly necessarily or with any timeline but just to build. Meaning; move forward and not back. I know it sounds simple enough but I never take this kind of approach to anything and I'm kind of excited to see where I end up! This morning I substituted the cream in my morning coffee with steamed soy, every other meal I've had has been "the usual" but I would like to have at least one fully vegan meal this week. I was even thinking of getting some friends together for a weekly vegan dinner! Then maybe 5 people would be eating a vegan meal instead of a non-vegan one and it'd be more fun as a group! I don't know where this will lead, but hopefully these actions will start to crate some kind of snowball in terms of health and well-being for myself and the world around me. It's these tiny things that can really make a difference!

This is always a good resource for info and if you have any of your own little tips for a better world I would love to hear some comments!

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Ennui, Mon Ami

A few days ago I started to write an essay on boredom. I did this as part of a greater effort towards self-realization and deeper understanding and because (apparently) I'm a dork and I like composing essays... My initial dilemma was feeling bored and noticing that the boredom was leading me to unhealthy behavior and an overall sense of disappointment in myself. Not wanting this to continue, I decided to (try) to get to the root of the issue. I researched the word itself, it's origins, boredom and depression, boredom as a theme in literature and I almost posted my findings as a blog. However, once I finished reading what I had written I realized it was boring! Why did I chose to think, read and write about boredom? Well, it's because my mind is obsessive and when an idea is rattling around in my brain (like that coin in the dryer) the only way to make it stop is to give it my full attention. Sometimes this means digging around in the socks but in this case I had to dig into the madness of my own head...

Rather than revisiting the initial impulse that drove me down this rabbit hole of research, I will, instead, share a few random realizations. I frequently go on little quests for knowledge or understanding regarding various topics and end up in a place completely different from where I began. This time no particular questions have been answered fully but there is a feeling of expansiveness and satisfaction that comes from the other things I've learned along the way. In the words of The Rolling Stones, "you can't always get what you want, but if you try sometimes, you might just find you get what you need".

Apparently, what I needed was the realization that at this point in time (for me) relief from suffering comes in the form of reading. When something is on my mind I start to see it everywhere, like feathers in the city; I never noticed them before and now I see them on the sidewalks and streets every day! The same is true of ideas or themes in life and literature. Sometimes I get the feeling that a book finds me rather than the other way around... One of my favorite things about reading is the way it's such an intimate connection with another person. Although, seemingly one-sided, it's a connection that is able to transcend physical and spacial relationships as well as time. Coming across an idea or feeling that someone else has expressed brings about a sensation of oneness for me.

So, if I haven't bored you too much already I will return, for a moment, to that original topic and then digress a little more by way of quotes. Here are a few things that have sparked my interest lately and created a feeling of connection:

I read that Goethe referred to boredom as "the sorest evil, the heaviest disease", so we agree that it's rather a negative thing... When I was researching boredom and depression this idea of "disease" came around a few times. I found a Dostoevsky quote in an article saying that "excessive consciousness is a disease" and that its "direct inevitable product is inertia" and "boredom". This points not to the boredom but rather the consciousness itself. I feel like there's always a paradox at the bottom of everything and in this case, the idea that excessive consciousness can lead to inertia and boredom is almost depressing in and of itself! I have often thought that thinking too much can feel like a kind of torture. When becoming overwhelmed by the mind there does come a point where any kind of action starts to seem less and less possible.

All of this also brings me back to the idea of the self vs. the awareness of the self. It's something most people are familiar with, it comes up a lot in meditation and it's something I think about frequently because I'm often aware of the split between myself and my awareness. Because of this I sometimes feel like two people! As I've been reading "Tropic of Cancer" by Henry Miller I've come across this theme a few times already. I'm not finished with the book yet but what's grabbing me at the moment are the themes of aloneness and detachment as well as transcendence from [what we know as] reality, freeing oneself from the constraints of the mind and excepting the truth of basic physical activities; eating, drinking, sex, etc...

Here are some random quotes that stood out for me so far and today, that's where I'll end this. With all of this exploration I can feel myself heading towards inertia so it's time to ease up on the thinking for the moment. These words will jingle on, for now, as the pennies in the dryer of my mind:

"It is not difficult to be alone if you are poor and a failure. An artist is always alone - if he is an artist. No, what the artist needs is loneliness" p. 66

"On the meridian of time there is no injustice: there is only the poetry of motion creating the illusion of truth and drama" p. 96

"It seemed to me the great calamity had already manifested itself, that I could be no more truly alone than than at this very moment" p. 98

"I am only spiritually dead. Physically I am alive. Morally I am free. The world which I have departed is a menagerie. The dawn is breaking on a new world, a jungle world in which the lean spirits roam with sharp claws. If I am a hyena I am a lean hungry one: I go forth to fatten myself" p. 99

"It's like I'm two people, and one of them is watching me all the time. I get so goddamned mad at myself that I could kill myself... and in a way, that's what I do every time I have an orgasm. For one second like I obliterate myself" p. 130

Saturday, September 13, 2008

It's Here

At first the feeling is hard to identify.
Something has shifted.
Something is different.
It's hard to mark the actual moment it happens...
But for me it has happened today:
Fall is here.

There's that slight chill in the air, a few brown leaves and I've had the urge to buy apple butter twice in the past week. As someone who grew up on the east coast, it's hard to tell when fall comes around here. The landscape doesn't go through the same kind of dramatic transformation, the weather hardly changes and since I'm between college and [hopefully] grad school, there's no new semester to mark the end of summer. Life goes on as usual, work continues as always and time passes.

Yet, there is something happening, I can feel it. Maybe it's just some kind of internal clock or the result of having the same schedule for so many years but once again it's time for a change. It won't be new notebooks and pencils or a new schedule, it won't involve preparations for a cold snowy winter and it won't even mean new fall clothes, (I'm way to broke for that)... But something will change! There is a sense of possibility.

Fall is marked, in a way, by death. All of my fiery summer energy will shift. Pieces of me may shrivel and drop and then I'll sit bare and quiet for the winter. I will meditate, read, write and wait. I am not a patient person by nature but there's always a chance to change and maybe, just maybe I can change a little with the season.

I'm ready for something new,
so here I go,
I'm stepping up to the edge of summer,
closing my eyes,
taking a deep breath in
and letting myself fall...

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Oh yeah, THAT'S what I do!

Today (in most ways) is like any other day in my work week. There was a meeting this morning, a few text messages between myself and my roommate, some online chatting with the other 9-5ers, coffee, coffee, coffee... and this heat!

This heat is getting to my head. Despite the fact that I grew up in humid Virginia, ever since I've lived here I've become a weather wimp. I'm spoiled by our great weather so this past week, (in this heat) I find myself melting and my mind drifting! Dizzy, fuzzy and overwhelmed by boredom and lack of sleep my mind starts its usual mischief; I start daydreaming, fantasizing, staring out the window, pondering my existence, worrying about things, laughing to myself, and then the impulsiveness starts to kick in: How can I do something to affect my state of being? Who can I call? Who can I text? Why didn't that guy ever call me back? What should my next tattoo be? When should I start thinking about moving again? And on and on...

Just when I think I'll be stuck in this rut all day something out of the ordinary happens! A little message in my inbox! Yay! I got it! I have an audition. And my whole body snaps out of the funk, just like that. I have something to work towards now. I have less than a week to get my shit together, brush up my pieces, print out some headshots and resumes, and prepare for my little show. Because that's how I look at auditions these days. It's a chance to perform. A chance to say something and a chance to do a one person show for an intimate audience where the pressure is on but ultimately the outcome is out of my control. It's a chance to do what I love for five minutes. A rush. And I remember who I am again. Everything else momentarily fades into the background and this little project takes center stage. I have an audition, and right now, that's all that I want to think about.