Sunday Morning ~ Look Without Eating
Maso sadya. ~ Eyes do not eat.
~ Chewa proverb
February 21, 2021
I wonder what it is like to spend forty days alone in the desert, thinking, deciding what to do with your life, no distractions aside from the scorpions and snakes. I wonder if you’d look at a cactus, (if, indeed, it is the kind of desert with cacti) and appreciate it’s beauty, wonder how it survives with so little water, how it can make such a beautiful flower or nectar with so little to sustain it. I wonder if you’d ponder these things. I wonder if you’d walk or just sit. How much water would it take for you to have the energy to walk? Would there be a hallucinatory period when things became clear and you’d know exactly how to play the cards you’d been dealt? What would it be like to have no friends to call, no one to bounce things off of, no one to ask sage advice? Would it be terrifying, or just sad? Or maybe I’m projecting. Would it be tranquil, or just a relief?
I’ve never been able to get myself to meditate. I never really learned a technique but also never tried too hard. Many times I’d decide to sit myself down, committing to spend time every day learning to quiet my mind. I’d always give up within a few days then feel like a failure and a quitter. I can’t seem to sit still or find the sweet spot of harmony. I can be contemplative but I think that’s a different thing.
Remember you are dust and to dust you shall return. I wonder if this is what you’d think about if you spent forty days alone in the desert? Who are we and what are we doing here in our temporary non-dust state? I wonder if you’d consider what role you’re supposed to play? That question seems to imply a pre-determined fate, which makes me wonder… If the instructions for our responsibilities as humans are really so unclear that one needs to spend forty days in a desert without food, maybe we should reframe our thinking.
When I want to make decisions about life, I usually walk. So far, it hasn’t failed me. I walk wherever I am, doesn’t matter. I just like to keep moving. If I were to walk in a desert, however, this would be the time of year I’d prefer. Indecision is uncomfortable for me. It makes me want to walk. I wonder how far I could walk if I didn’t eat or drink. How far does one go with the fasting thing? The rules are a bit fuzzy and open to interpretation. I get hungry quickly but I’m sure I could overcome that sometime within the forty days. At some point though it would probably feel better to just sit. But then the bones in my butt would get sore on the hard dry ground. Or maybe I’d sit on a rock so my knees would be at a comfortable angle. Or maybe I wouldn’t care by then.
How would I mark the end of forty days? By the angle of the sun? By the amount of water I had left in my flask? Or by some internal clock that dings with the message, “Time to get to work!” Would I then get out there and organize? Would I point out all the injustices? Or open up possibilities to those who never believed they had any? Would I dope slap some anarchists or leave them to their own immolation? Does meditation and fasting give you energy for all this? I wonder if I’d wander out of the desert, staggering, resigned to play the cards I’d been handed, roll up the rags on my arms, point out a few things that could be done better, and try to make good on my new insights and resolutions.
After forty days where do you even start with nourishing yourself? Would one crave chocolate and good wine? An orange off an ancient tree? Or maybe, one would find a lap for their head and someone to listen to tales of forty days in the desert, a cloth with sweetened water dripping into their mouth.
In my leadership class in college the professor told us that every answer is inside us. Finding yourself in a situation with no one to consult should not feel lonely or frightening. The answer is within, you only need to learn to tap into it.
It’s all in the reframing.
Know deprivation as well as abundance. Then look but don’t eat.
Love to all,