karaokegal (karaokegal) wrote,

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Essay-Looking for God at 16th and Valencia

Some recent musings on my own short-comings.

Warnings: Spirituality, God, 12 Steps, Recovery. (Apologies to my atheist friends. This will probably not be your cup of Chai.)

As part of my recovery from compulsive overeating, I’ve set intentions to eliminate behaviors related to my binge-eating that go beyond the binging itself.

The first and hardest was making a commitment to always having both sitz bones (sounds so much nicer than ass-cheeks) in contact with a chair when food or beverage is going into my mouth. Long after I’d technically stopped binging, I was still eating standing up in the kitchen. Shoving food in like a feral animal, or at the very least like someone who felt she still needed to hide the act of eating itself. There was a lot of eating with my fingers, directly out of measuring cups. Also nibbles while preparing food for the next day. All sorts of sneaky, compulsive behavior that didn’t feel like abstinence, even if it was the dumpster-diving food binges of yesteryear. (Or one day before August 25, 2014.)

After getting my bum down, I then had to tackle the need to read, write, email, check Twitter, Tumbler, LJ, Facebook, Dreamwidth, play Bejeweled, play Cubis Gold, watch YouTube videos, or any other fucking thing that would distract me from the act of eating. When I was in my disease, the distraction was a way of staying in denial about how much food I was shoveling in. In diet mode, which is of course also a form of my disease, and in early recovery, a way to fend off the fear of NOT ENOUGH!

I always carried a copy of the New Yorker in my pocket-book, often next to my binge-food stash, back in the day. I couldn’t even have brunch with my husband, sans distractions. I’m pretty sure he started carrying his sketch book to brunch in self-defense; since I couldn’t be counted on to actually talk to him while we were eating. Instead I’d bury myself in Talk of the Town or an Anthony Lane movie review. Sometimes I’d read TO him, but I just couldn’t stand the thought of giving full mindfulness to food. Much as I once couldn’t face the idea of meditation, because it would leave me alone with my thoughts. (EEEEEK!)

My current practice (completely arbitrary and self-imposed) eliminates ALL the above-mentioned items. The lap-top is OFF and the IPhone cannot be doing anything that requires me to look at it or touch it. No reading material is permitted. However, since I’m still on the journey and not a perfect being and I still kind of hate being alone with the act of eating, I do allow listening to either music or podcasts.

Yoga has led me to Kirtan (sacred chanting). Thus I found out about Krishna Das, who I hadn’t heard of before, but then I found out he was associated with Ram Dass, who I had heard of at least vaguely. I mentioned this to Hubby, who was shocked that I’d never read “Be Here Now” and set about getting me a copy, which to be honest, I still haven’t finished. Now I referenced both of them and Bhagavan Das, fairly frequently, and in my typical small-reference pool, life in a bubble way, act somewhat superior and shocked when someone hasn’t heard of these guys. (Mind you, I’m lately finding myself rather gutted by the number of people I interact with who have no idea who Bryan Ferry is and never heard of Roxy Music.) If you talk about Maharaji, many people think you mean the Maharishi, or Meyer Baba, or just start backing away slowly. And that’s before they even know that I chant Hare Krishna on a regular basis.

The < a href=http://beherenownetwork.com/> Be Here Now Network</a> has a podcast called Ram Dass Here and Now, mostly featuring talks he’s giving over the years also The Krishna Das Pilgrim Heart Hour, which is all Q&A from his workshops and which is alternately (and sometimes simultaneously) deeply moving and fucking hilarious. You can take the Jewish boy off Long Island, but the snark remains. So KD and RD tend to be my lunchtime companions as I’m drinking Bulletproof Tea and keeping my tuchus down while drinking it before I get up and put myself together for work.

The other day I was listening to THIS ONE: https://www.ramdass.org/ep-107-true-revolution/
(There’s a long introduction, which includes spoilers of the talk itself. The actual content starts at about the 14 minute mark.) For those not interested in listening, probably most of you, the gist is these two ideas: 1. Everywhere you look, you see what you’re looking for. 2. When you’re looking for God, all you see is God.

Whoah! It was beautiful. It made me want to be the kind of person who sees God, or at least Good, instead of the negativistic bitch I feel I inherently am.

I got to 16th and Valencia on my way to the BART Station to go to work. Crowded. Noisy. Construction going on. Traffic everywhere. A large, slow-moving woman was trying to hail a cab, which was making a turn from Valencia onto 16th. The driver didn’t see her and it seemed unlikely she would get that taxi or any other. And what was my compassionate, spiritual, looking for God response to this?

I said out loud, “Good luck with that!”

Meanwhile, a fellow member of the throng, seeing that same situation, went out of his way to whistle down the cab and make sure the woman got across the street and into it safely. I got to see God there, but more acutely felt the lack of it in me.

The next day I listened to the same podcast and took the same walk to the BART station. This time I was panhandled as I crossed Valencia. The street person asked if I had a dollar. As it happened, I did. I gave it to him and was prepared to go about my visit feeling all spiritual and probably a bit self-righteous for not just ignoring the suffering around me. However, I actually had two dollars in my pocket and when I paid my street tax, the gentleman in need saw the other one. He started demanding I give him both, because he needed five dollars. (I think he was using the line about the bus, but that might have been my own imagining.)

He got very loud and moved toward me in what I perceived as a threatening manner. And (wait for it…) I started arguing with him. I was annoyed that he was not playing by the rules. I know very well that anyone who is out there is desperate and probably mentally ill as well. Yet I chose to debate the particulars of the interaction.

“You asked for a dollar and you got a dollar!”

What did I expect; an apology? “Oh, you’re right. Sorry about that. I ended up running away and screaming out the most ludicrous thing possible: “Look for God!”

I was really shaken up by the whole thing, but most of all by another failure of seeing God on my part

In the BART station, I gave the other dollar to a busking violin player, with the thought that at least he’d “earned” it and then some change to another panhandler down on the platform, who was polite and soft-spoken, interrupting his conversation with the voices just long enough to ask me for spare change and accepting it graciously.

Clearly my spiritual development has a long way to go and my character defects are still looming large. Step six is looming large. But at least I’m still eating sitting down. Now I need to let go of the podcasts, but I’m definitely not there yet.

Tags: blog, essay, journal, personal, recovery

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