A chain of events, which included at one point the incorporation of input from a blogger, hardly ever known as Captain Angsty-Brains, lead me to read ‘Kamikaze Cowboy’ by Dirk Benedict.
This has become important, because it gives me something to talk about. My life at present derives of working rather hard on a project that has maybe a 20% chance of panning out and equalling a pay-day, but I’m doing it anyway. Also, I’m having a romance that for reasons of jinxing, and personal space, etc., I don’t wish to disclose to anyone I know. That means big portions of those things taking up my attention revolve around stuff I can’t really talk about to family and friends.
That really only left me with the thin conversational fodder of ‘books-I’m-reading’ and my new geek passion, BSG. So why not combine the two! Dirk Benedict was the original Starbuck from the first Battlestar Galactica series. Allegedly, Benedict cured his own prostrate cancer through diet and the practice of macrobiotic principles, and then he wrote about it in his book, ‘Confessions of a Kamikaze Cowboy‘.
Kinda neat, huh?
After looking into macrobiotics a bit, it looks very much like a list of foods one would derive no enjoyment whatsoever out of eating. If you enjoy cheetos, soda pop, ice-cream, juicy steaks, blueberry muffins, or any flavors at all that don’t fall in the muted gray-scale of gastronomic experience, then macrobiotics looks almost as fun as oral surgery.
But there were a few things that hooked me in the book. Benedict claims that following the macrobiotic principles works because you don’t feel any cravings. His explanation is that cravings do not derive from a lack of will power, but rather like any addictive behavior, they stem directly from chemical reactions in the body.
I don’t wanna get into the ying and yang business cus my grasp of that is sketchy, to say the least, but in westernized culture so many of our foods are so *excessive*- excessive fat, excessive animal flesh, excessive sugar, excessive salt, that the body gets put on a yo-yo course, constantly trying to balance itself, and this is what produces the cravings.
For example, he says that for every portion of animal protein, the body needs 7 portions of carbohydrate. So what’s a real quick way to balance a big meat eating day?
Pepsi, anyone? Is a sugary donut sounding good about now? Something made of refined flour and coated with sugar is going to hit you *hard* with any kind of carb intake the body desires. Of course then you have a spike in the blood sugar, and your body needs a whole bunch of other stuff to regulate those responses.
And on and on, in an endless cycle from one pole to the other of diet extreme.
I’m not a nutritionist, but this makes sense to me. The other thing that spoke to me was this one line, likely paraphrased as the book has moved on to other hands. He says, ‘There’s precious little food in our food nowadays.’
Makes you think. What value are you getting out of what you consume in a day? Are you deriving balanced energy and nutrition from your food, or getting stop-gap spurts of energy and a lot of chemicals, free-radicals and carcinogens to boot? How much of it becomes waste product, how much of it goes into fat storage?
And most of all: How do you feel?
That’s the weirdest question of all for me. I ask people that several times a week, and I’m asked in return. I’m pretty good about striving for an honest answer, and that answer is generally representative of my emotional state.
But physically? Try this: Stand still for a moment, just stand, in the center of a room and try not to focus on any of the millions of things that you usually do. Don’t think about recreation, relationships, work or who won the Phillies game, just strive for a moment of physical awareness.
When I tried this, it was really weird. I became aware of my joints, first. That my fingers are a little stiff, that my left knee is just every so slightly uncomfortable. I felt my back muscles, what was tight and what wasn’t. I became aware of my breathing, whether it was clear or congested, how my head felt, the actual pull of gravity. I became aware of the beating of my heart.
In truth, I’m okay, but I’ve been better. I could feel better than this. I don’t feel great.
The mind is a remarkable thing in that, it has the ability to actually make us unaware of our physical state most of the time. Unless you are ill or injured enough to have extreme physical discomfort, most of what happens in your body takes place unconsciously. You are able to focus on whatever you want to think about, and minor discomfort might not even pierce your awareness for hours, days, weeks at a time. It’s kind of strange that you can inhabit a body and be that disconnected from it. It’s kind of amazing that the average American probably doesn’t have any idea how they feel, physically, 9/10ths of the time.
And so, I’m trying this out. Not because I really think I can stick to it, or for any other reason, particularly, except curiosity. Will this safe guard my health? There’s no guarantees, but the evidence seems to be that healthier eating improves your chances of making it into old age. Can I make it one week eating this shit without buying a crate of cupcakes and a big gulp Slurpee?
Probably not, but what’s the hurt in trying? I’ll say that, after a couple days of macrobiotic eating, I do feel remarkably un-hungry, most of the time. And energy’s pretty high. And cooking this shit into some kind of edible form does present a challenge, which I need, so we’ll see how it goes.
And, of course, it gives me something to talk about.
For the curious, some macrobiotic resources:
1. The book
2. The food list (run away! run away!)