Just thinking out loud, here.
Who are these people who get to stay home and do what they want? Do nothing but work out all day and call the rest of us obese because we can't get into the clothes we wore in high school? More on this in a moment.
This is about the twentieth time this month I've gone into a men's room to hear some guy puking. What time is it? Nine AM. Why is a grown man puking into a toilet at nine AM? It's not a hangover. It's not the flu--nobody around here looks sick.
The grown man is puking up his breakfast. If he was a girl, they'd call it bulimia. But because he's a grown man, they call it "staying in shape".
It has never once occurred to me to puke up my breakfast to avoid excess calories. Mostly, what occurs to me is eating less, which I will tend to do if I start feeling fat, which I do on occasion. I think about what I eat always, and I always have. Lots of time, while I'm thinking, I'm eating anyway, making up little silent rationalizations about why Snickers bars are healthful if consumed rarely, but in large quantities.
I go to the gym, and I'm mostly the same. I've been the same human body configuration for most of my adult life. When I started lifting weights, I started gaining weight and I was thinking I should eat less until someone said to me, "muscle weighs more than fat," the logic of which did not escape me. This is the logic of the Snickers bar, which the M&M Mars company wants to make sure I comprehend.
It is also the logic of beer. Just thinking out loud.
Beer, of course, is a self-limiting pastime. Though, bad beer may not be. As far as I can tell, the Budweiser people have invented a concoction that will not be regurgitated under any circumstances. Bud is consumed by big guys and college students. The college students may be seen hanging out of the shotgun window of daddy's car trying to keep the stomach contents off the paint. Do you realize what hydrochloric acid and undigested pizza does to the sheen of an Acura?
But it's not the Budweiser that did it to the college student. It was the half bottle of Captain Morgan, a beverage designed by Satan himself to assure one remembers that the other side of an alcohol high is covered with razor blades and broken glass. It's the spiced rum they're puking up. The Southern Comfort. The peach schnapps. The Baileys Irish Crème and Merlot cocktails. There--we have plenty of empirical evidence that Budweiser is generally too terrible a brew to be puked. Anyway, who could drink enough Budweiser to get sick? To me Budweiser tastes sort of like fizzy seawater without the fishy aftertaste. Yum. I couldn't possibly get drunk on Budweiser, because long before that happened, I'd get the hell out of Texas.
Can you imagine a crew of 250+ pound American males, decked out in fully certified pro sport team regalia, pausing to poke their fingers down their throats before ascending the ramp to the upper deck? They won't puke up their Budweiser, either. So Bud cannot be puked. There. I've proven it scientifically, another successful gedanken experiment in the spirit of Einstein and special relativity.
So something is wrong with America and weight and having too much and what we do to have less of it and I know what it is. It's that we eat massive quantities of foodstuffs. Most of us eat as much as 1.3 Europeans and 1.8 Africans. Where did I get this data? I don't remember the source. It was probably on a Qantas airlines flight. One of those foreign airlines where alcohol is free and everyone is jittery from nicotine withdrawal. But you believe me, don't you?
This is going through my head. Angry stuff now.
Anger is a totally wasted emotion. What good is being angry at someone? What does it achieve that being forceful and rational couldn't better achieve? Anger begets anger begets anger. I've been slighted. I've been offended. I've been injured. I've been insulted. I've been I've been I've been.
What if you simply refused? Wouldn't it be a demonstration of ultimate power and infinite control over one's life if one could never be angered?
I do my best never to show anger at work. I didn't know what was happening until one day one of my employees said--everyone listens to you because you never get mad. That made me happy. I thought it was all going to waste.
The other thing I noticed, having been on the ice, is that panic is dangerous. Fear-driven panic subtracts you from your grasp on the environment. I felt this on the ice. Times when I became afraid things happened to me. The stuff happening to me added anger to my fear until I stopped making decisions, and simply reacted. It must be how animals deal with their surroundings. Simply react. Instinct.
Reacting instinctually makes you a part of the earth. A movable piece of sand blowing around in a hurricane. You become detritus.
When I was able to hold down my fear and keep my brain engaged, I found ways out of everything. No matter how hopeless it seemed, there was always somewhere to wedge a finger. And I'd have never seen it if I was simply reacting.
It came to me because once, when I was scared of freezing, I noticed the mountaineers reacting calmly and working their gear. Resetting the tent lines which were already set appropriately. Doing things that seemed nonsensical and futile in light of the storm around us. And then I realized they were keeping their minds engaged, knowing that sooner or later something would arise that would give them the opportunity to get out of the situation. Eventually--always--opportunity presented itself. And the millisecond it did, they were there. And they got us out, as was their job.
Anger and fear subtract the human soul from the process of living. I consider these reactions sinful.
Yesterday I heard the most horrible thing. My daughter wanted to bring a friend home from school to do homework, and as is customary, my wife talked to the other child's mother to make sure everyone knew what was going on.
It turned out this child was in foster care, and the foster mother explained to my wife that the child had been raped by her natural father, and had been infected with numerous STDs as a result, and was sickly.
Remember what I said above about being angry and fearful? The first thing that came to my mind was that if ever met that father, I would find a way to smash his jaw, as a small token of my opinion about what he'd done to the institution of fatherhood. Because my own daughter had to be subjected to the very idea of the results of the horrors he'd inflicted, I wanted the ability to hurt him.
Now, this man is in jail, and in jail even prisoners need a system of self-governance. And in this system people who have been imprisoned for crimes against children tend to find themselves at the bottom of a very awful list. I can only hope so, in this person's case. And I don't even know who this man is. I don't know his name or his circumstance. I only know that the mere thought of him brought me some pain, and so I want to retaliate.
I mean, I consider myself a reasonably liberal individual. But in this case, I would probably adopt a very right-wing posture of revenge. For this man, I would join the Fox News bandwagon of venom and hatred. No forgiveness. And you know, God informs me the position of no forgiveness will impede my progress into heaven. There is no part of revenge that is Christlike, or Buddahlike, or Zenlike, or Godlike. It's pure Sun Tzu. Strike unexpectedly. Kill them all.
Oh well. I have some yang to go with my yin. Bring on the no spin zone.
When I was without work, I spent a lot of time at the gym. I did a lot of mountain biking. I got a sample of "la dolce vita". What it would be like to live without having to actually "work".
I hated it. Nearly every minute. The only parts I liked were the ones I spent hanging out at bars and getting drunk with other out of work people. Then I realized that was the death spiral. When you're in a bar at 2PM, swilling your third Sierra Nevada, commiserating with strangers about how your professional life has just gone into the toilet--that's how it starts. It ends with either death or rehab.
Thank ye gods I hated myself so much during those times that I managed to snap out of it. Were it not for a continuous, deep, intense self-loathing -- I might be under a highway overpass now, panhandling, considering that fatal walk out to the median in the middle of the night.
It used to be I thought I wanted to retire at 40. Be a man of leisure by no later than the time I hit 50. Now I realize that would kill me.
Leisure = death.
I must work to live. This pain I feel having my hours taken from me in the name of making a living--this must continue until I die. Otherwise, I will simply self-destruct.
I do not want free time. I want a quest, a purpose, and an odyssey to become my life.
Everything good I see in the world comes from the people in it.
The immense beauty I found in Antarctica was dwarved by the open hearts of the ice people there.
The pain of my childhood was soothed by my parents and siblings. My friends shepharded me though life, and they still do. I cannot live without other people. If I was the last human left on earth, there would be no reason for me to persist. I believe in the words of The Ghost of Christmas Past to Ebernezer Scrooge, "mankind was your business.'
Mankind is my business. I am not a God. I am not a ghost. I am a material object and I can find no reason for any physical principle or breathing being other than the maintenance of the human race and the living creatures of the universe. Mankind is the only business.
If a tree falls in a forest, and there's nobody around to hear it, it didn't happen.
I've been thinking about A.A.Milne recently. About Pooh Bear and Christopher Robin. About how Christopher Robin died, somewhat still pissed off over his father turning him into "THE" Christopher Robin. How he could never shake it. How he wound up in WWII, wounded in combat twice. Seeing the worst in mankind and becoming bitter about it.
Christopher Robin and Winnie the Pooh never contemplated war together. The innocence Milne captured--he captured knowing combat himself. He was a veteran of WWI.
Christopher Robin died with a plate in his head and a piece of shrapnel in his leg. What would Pooh have said to that? Eeyore? What does a "Welcome Home Soldier" party look like in the Thousand Acre Wood? Do they tie yellow ribbons there?
Yet, a man who has lived through the horrors of trench warfare can still come home and conjure such tenderness that captures the hearts of hundreds of millions over decades. It can still happen. There is still goodness in this world.
And I think to myself, what greater gift could a father give to his own children and theirs, than to create such a mythology for them? To provide them a safe haven inside their own minds? A place of peace and innocence where they could go when they heard about friends who had been raped by their fathers, where they could retreat from hangovers and the anger of people who refuse to be content, or who are driven to intolerance by belief in different gods.
What greater gift?
How can I do that? I need to try.