This I Believe

Joe - Iowa City, Iowa
Entered on January 13, 2009
Age Group: 30 - 50

Used to be, when I wanted lunch, I’d buy it. A Burrito and a Coke. A few slices of pizza. Whatever. On my way home from work, maybe I’d stop for a candy bar. I’d eat dinner before I was even hungry for it. I rarely allowed myself to feel the pangs of hunger. I gave in to most of my urges, nagging little things. I rarely held them off.

All of these little urges, before the diet, I’d satisfy. These little hooks in the day. They pulled me along. Through one day. Two days. A week. A month.

I have always been sure that there are more important things. Bigger, more important things that pull me through the years. A greater purpose, you might call it. But now, having been on a cleansing diet for the past ten days and denying myself the comfort of satisfying every urge, I doubt it.

I no longer look forward to meals. Who looks forward to eating a bowl of oatmeal sans milk and butter and sugar? I can’t have a cigarette. Cigarettes are against the rules. And alcohol is out. Having very little to look forward to, I am sliding to a halt. Once the NFL season is over, there will be no more hooks. I will simply cease to have any desire to move forward.

You’d think that being a father would be one of those “more important things” I mentioned earlier. A greater purpose in life. So, I proved the cash so my kids can eat and then go out with their friends, leaving the garage door open when they go. I guess that’s important.

“It’s the little things,” people say. “It’s the little things in life.”

I think what this means is we’re supposed to appreciate the little things. And, I suppose, what better way to learn to appreciate the little things (the slice of rhubarb pie, the cup of coffee) than to give them up?

Having given them up, for only ten days now, I’m fearful that these little things might be all I have. That my life to this point has been no different from the life of a worm. Consuming. Excreting. Consuming. Excreting. Eventually I will be found on the sidewalk after a rain, shriveling in the sun.

The occasional film. The sunshine. The smell of fresh cut grass. The slice of rhubarb pie. These are the things given to me. These are the “little things.” Right? Shouldn’t I enjoy them?

Yes. I think I should.

And if I do enjoy them . . . then what? What will make way for those nebulous “more important things” I mentioned? Those mysterious “greater purposes?” What exactly are they, by the way?

It’s the 21-day cleansing diet, the gluten-free, dairy-free, meat-free, sugar-free diet, that has forced me to this realization: I don’t know what the bigger things are. I do believe, however, that I’m hungry for something other than food. I believe, in fact, that I’m starving for it.