Sunday, January 25, 2015

Living on Tic-Tacs and Applause

"Let life happen to you. 
Believe me, life is in the right: always."
-Rainer Maria Rilke

A couple years ago, I had the chance to see Sherie Rene Scott perform "Piece of Meat" at 54 Below (located below the former of Studio 54 in Manhattan).  The show tells the story of how Scott, a committed vegetarian, succumbs to intense cravings for meat.  Through her one-woman cabaret, she tells the story of being torn between her guilt and her desire to experience carnal pleasure.  In the end, she says, "Everything in life comes down to three things: What do I hang on to, what do I let go of, and when?"

Here I am with my favorite uncle and my New York cousins at 54 Below 

At one point in her performance, Scott is describing life in New York City where she convinced herself that she could live "on Tic-Tacs and applause."  While I don't care for Tic-Tacs, and don't get much applause, I understood exactly what she meant.

There was a time in my life when I clung to the highs.  I honestly believed I could receive sufficient nourishment from sunshine, infatuation, and chocolate-covered almonds.  In its initial stages, it was wonderful.  I was newly in love, I could see a new and attractive life opening up to me, I was energized.  At, what felt like, my high point I weighed 110 pounds (I am almost 5'9").  I wasn't dieting, I just didn't feel the need to eat.  I was also constantly on the go.  I was too wired to fall asleep or stay asleep.  I thought, "this is great!  The secret to weight-loss is to just keep yourself on a high."  I put a bit of effort into turning my pale skin tan, straightening my curly hair, and never having a dull moment.  It was lovely.

And then I met the ground.
My new relationship abruptly ended.  Winter came, the coldest in over 100 years.  I began to gain weight.  I came into an embattled relationship with my body and life.  I kept striving harder and harder to bring the highs back.  I increased my exercise.  I filled every waking moment with busy activity.  But the more I tried, the more exhausted I became.

Eventually (and this was no easy feat) I began to accept the ground.  I put down my weapons against reality.  I watched my weight gain with a sense of curiosity rather than defeat.  I learned to sit still for moments of everyday.  I stayed home a lot.  I welcomed the night, sleep, and winter.  I began to eat regular meals.  And, like magic, I found the alchemy I had been seeking.

When I finally stopped struggling with reality, it became my dear friend and teacher.  I could wake up to the lessons that were being offered to me- beautiful lessons about self-care, empowerment, and allowing rather than manipulating an abundant life.  I am still learning to do this.  I make mistakes everyday.  I have many preferences, but I know that the more I cling to them, the more unhappy I will be.  When I can bow down to what is, I become wise, at peace, and am carried by the mystery.

Probably my favorite verse of the Tao says "success is as dangerous as failure.  Hope is as hollow as fear. ... Whether you go up the ladder or down it, your position is shaky.  When you stand with your two feet on the ground, you will always keep your balance." I am trying to remember this.  The whole reason the ground is there is to offer its support to us.  It is a welcome source of stability in an uncertain world, and it is difficult to be in touch with when you are subsisting on applause.

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