Recently, I have embarked on the game changing experiment of neither dieting nor running. I have absolutely no way of telling if it’s a success or not. On the one hand, I’ve gained eight pounds in what feels like a nanosecond. On the other…meh. I’m not so worked up about it.
Keep in mind, I have been on diet pretty much steadily since elementary school. I think I was all of six years old before it was brought violently to my attention that what I thought of as my unobtrusive and inoffensive body was, to some, unacceptable. Add to that my general awkwardness and a lack of any sort of coolness genes, my tendency to attempt to befriend my teachers rather than my classmates, and a truly devastating home perm and you have the recipe for one amazingly dorky kid. If life were like the movies, specifically The Breakfast Club, I would have been Anthony Michael Hall for sure. Only fat.
As such, for the entirety of my adult life I have thought about, worried about, obsessed about my weight roughly every third thought. Jesus Louise, can you imagine how devastatingly wise I would be at this point, if I hadn’t wasted fully a third of my brain power counting calories? I would be like…um…someone smart enough not to fall for this BS, that’s for damn sure.
But I read something in the past few months that has changed my fundamental way of being. I’ve been working my way through every word ever put down by Buddhist teacher Cheri Huber, especially this gem, “What if none of your issues mean anything?”
Lightening bolts like this are so specific, so I’m sure you are scratching your head and thinking, “so what?” But to me? BAM! Mind officially blown. I actually ran outside, gesturing wildly to Hubby and yelled, “It doesn’t mean anything!!!! Nothing means anything!!!!” And when he did not immediately come back with the one appropriate response, which would have been to toss his shovel to the ground, and yell, “Oh, my god! I see it now!” I scampered back into the house to continue pacing the floor and talking to myself like a maniac.
I’m a gal who prescribes meaning to everything. I was a jumpy, anxious kid and got real good at scanning folks’ faces in order to figure out if trouble was a’brewing. Maybe it’s a by-product of coming from the Mid-West. We are a traditionally taciturn folk; “You should know how I feel” covers everything from “I adore you” to “I’ve filed for divorce and set your truck on fire.” Every kid from here knows the furious sideways glance that means your parents aren’t going to say anything in front of your grandma/the store clerk/ your teacher, but you are going to get it when you get home, and how.
Because of this I’ve spent decades making sure that the tone of my voice, my facial expressions, and my actions all line up to either express what I am not saying, or hide my unpleasant reactions. In this kind of scenario, how could my weight NOT mean anything? Everything I do means something, what I wear, how I present myself, the way I greet people…The possibility that we can just -snip- sever the ties between meaning and, well, everything, causes such a wave of relief that I’m liable to fall straight to the ground, inert, my muscles unable to function without the decades of tension that have supported them like Gepetto’s strings.
I float through my days, chanting my inner mantra, “It doesn’t mean a thing. Not a thing.” Spilling the coffee doesn’t mean I’m a dope or a perennial klutz or signal the emerging symptoms of Parkinson’s. Being late doesn’t mean I’m irresponsible or disrespectful, it means I couldn’t find my keys…which does not, by the way, signify that I am developing Alzheimer’s disease. Again, to you this probably isn’t a great revelation, but to me it’s the heavens parting and the trill of an angel’s chorus.
And it isn’t just me, it’s YOU. Any of you that I come into contact with everyday. Cut me off in traffic? Whatever, dude. I draw no assumptions about your sense of entitlement or the state of your declining eyesight. (What? I’m new at this.) Peace to you, my brother. I tell you what, these days I am one blissed-out hippie.
So. Eight pounds. Gain ’em or lose ’em, it means nothing. Hardly even worth contemplating. See how very forgiving of myself I am? My pants, decidedly less so. But they aren’t as enlightened as I am. Obviously.