Today is day five of The Cleanse and I’m feeling…fine? Ugh. I know. But fine really is the correct sentiment for and description of the bland roasted dandelion tea steeping next to me as I write. What I really want right now is a robust cup of coffee and a steak. It’s funny that I miss those things most. I thought that at this point in the process I’d be dying for pasta and cheese and wine. Though the ritual of sipping a hot beverage out of my favorite mug at my writing desk at 5am is still intact, the scent in the room is off. In place of the nutty, toasted, slightly bitter scent of my extra-dark roast, the air is filled with an earthy, after-the-rain, not as satisfying one.
During a cleanse or a fast, one’s senses become heightened–or mine have anyway–and things like aromas and music and angry voices behind me in the supermarket have become intense and glaring. Both Gina and I have written about change a lot on this blog. Heck, our very motivation for starting this thing was in preparation for the very big change to both of our lives (but more hers) that their move from Here to There was going to be, so it seems pretty fitting to be wrestling with new movements and shifts today, almost a year to the day that we said goodbye.
The slightly unpalatable tea I’m sipping has gotten me thinking about change this morning, but also about our ability as humans to adapt; to refine; to become different over time. The physical manifestation of our own redesign, so easily observed in the bodies of growing children and aging parents, has been more obvious to me this past week: in the way that my own body is reacting to this diet of raw food. The skin on my belly seems tighter, the perpetual circles under my eyes have lightened a bit and, after five nights of sugar-free, alcohol-free, caffeine-free sleep, I feel like I have the energy to swim to Italy. (Sigh.)
Less obvious, though, are the interior shifts that I detect when I investigate close enough; the changes in my heart and mind that are both subtle and earth shattering and the real incentives for embarking on this cleanse (and agreed to being 1/2 of this blog) in the first place. In changing the habits and patterns of my eating, I was hoping to expand and open up my soul a little bit, too; to push away whatever was blocking my writing and my thinking and my job finding. To pick through and recalibrate whatever ideas I’m holding onto about my age (as it relates to starting a new career) or my ability to make a living (as a woman and a mother) or my willingness to ask for help with either of those things.
Things can get a little tricky here. There’s a woo-woo path I could take: The way of The Law of Attraction, or karma, or the Power of Positive Thinking–as if me eating raw carrots instead of slaughtered cows will somehow open up the road to a job or a book deal. Sure, folks have suggested that possibility to me this week and, at times, I’d have liked to believe them. But I’ve burned enough sage and chanted enough sanskrit in my life to know that things aren’t that easy. (If I get a job offer by the end of the week, I’ll have to eat my words.) Sure, I believe in the principle of cause and effect and I am certain that there’s some natural order to the actions of our lives that we haven’t fully decoded but, there’s a vastly simpler (though longer and more circuitous) path to living a life of clarity and purpose that I’m subscribing to, and that is one of learning to pay attention to what’s going on inside of me and using THAT as my guide.
To be sure, eating nothing but raw food for five days has caused a bit of turmoil inside of me this past week. Turmoil that has not only caused some chaos in my intestines (enough said) but has also forced me to sit with discomfort and worry and regret without being able to dull it or dampen it with food or a drink. There’s an uncomfortable expansiveness that happens in your mind when you can’t rely on the post-meal glycemic languidness that follows eating a dish of carbs. All week I’ve noticed myself waiting for it after dinner and, when it didn’t come, getting agitated and nervous and afraid. I’ve become so alert and conscious at times that it has left me feeling confusingly unstable; until I realize that the feeling of being totally present is actually something to cultivate and not try to bury.
The thing is, presence isn’t always pretty. Yes I can smell the wonton gamy-ness of the river outside the window and taste the honeysuckle blossoms that are just beginning to bloom in the yard, but I also notice the dirt streaked windows and all those spiderwebs in the hall. Presence requires one to notice all the delicious stuff in life–all those things that we love–but also pay attention–real attention–to the ugly, fetid stuff that we do and say that might need some adjusting, too. It’s no wonder we eat so much cake.
This finding of presence this week leads me to tell you about a book (that Gina also mentioned next door). I’m thrilled to share the news that Stefan’s book (and music) are coming out soon! (See dates below.) The Considered Life speaks directly to taking hold of the thoughts that we have that are lucid and distinct and clear, and then implores us to stay with them, to ride them to their source and, when faced with one’s naked and trembling self, compels us into an intimacy with our deepest beliefs, our most reverent thoughts and all those horrifying realizations we’ve tried to run from for so long which, once accepted as our truth, leave us forever changed. After that, we have no other choice than to proceed back out into the world and live accordingly.
It’s the opposite of a self-help book; it’s a decision, a guide, a way of life. You should pick up a copy. On sale June 14th.