Thursday, December 20, 2007

Fear and Loathing in the Bardo

I thrive on deadlines. I have deadlines for the classes I teach at Middle Tennessee State University, for the columns I write for Spirituality & Health Magazine (in print and on-line), for the essays and seasonal booklets I write for the Scarritt-Bennett Center, and for the books I contract to write. I need these deadlines to keep me motivated and on track. Without them I would spend most of my time thinking of what to say rather than actually saying anything.

But there is one deadline that is a killer for me: New Year’s. New Year’s is the day lots of people use to measure how far along they are in their life journeys, and to judge the quality of that journey as well. But for me New Year’s is the day I start new diets.

I usually realize I am fifty pounds overweight around December 15th. I check back and realize that I had made a commitment to lose those pounds last January, and berate myself for not keeping my promise to myself. It isn’t the only promise I have broken this year, but it is the only one that hangs over my belt. Then I rededicate myself to losing the weight by this time next year. Which leaves me with about two weeks in the bardo.

The bardo is what Tibetan Buddhists call the state between your last life and your next. In the Tibetan tradition you are to spend your forty days in the bardo trying to get enlightened. My version of the bardo is slightly different. In my understanding the bardo is a karma and calorie free zone between diets. Here is how I figure it:

Since I failed to keep to the diet I committed to last January 1st, and since I am going to start a new diet this coming January Ist, I might as well use the two weeks between now and then to enjoy everything I had been eating without enjoyment. I mean what is the point of sticking to the old diet—I already failed at that one. And you cannot start a new diet in January if you start eating as if you were already on that diet in December. Right? So I might as well eat whatever the hell I want to eat and not worry about.

And besides, I know that the easiest weight to lose is the most recent weight you have gained, so in order to kick-start my new diet, it would behoove me to gain a few pounds now so I can quickly drop them then, and thus give myself the psychological boost I will need to erase the extra weight I am carrying right now.

This makes sense to me, and probably to every other compulsive overeater and food addict out there reading this. If it doesn’t make sense to you, mazal tov! If you feel compelled to write me and try to help me lose some weight, please don’t. Take yourself out for ice cream instead.

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