Tuesday, December 29, 2009

New Beginnings

I've read a couple of things recently which have helped me get my head a little straighter, so I thought I'd share them here.

First, I read a post recently about how New Year's is just an arbitrary day set aside to commemorate the fact that the earth has gone around the sun yet another time. It could have been February 15, or July 22. So what's the big deal? It seems we humans need an excuse to analyze our lives and determine what is needed so that we can do some self improvement. We innately know that our human condition requires progress.

Whether we accomplish this needed progress is quite another matter...as we all know! Which brings me to the other thing I read recently that really helped me.

Monkeys are really good at swinging on trees. They do it all day long. They would be quite unhappy if they were in a restrictive environment that kept them from swinging on trees. Every once in a while a monkey slips from the branch he hopes to latch on to. This does not make him any less a monkey. Of course, if he slips often enough, he will not survive his sojourn in the jungle, so he knows the importance of grabbing the branch carefully and securely. He won't slip very often.
We too have words that define us. Some of us are vegetarians. Some are vegans, or raw vegans. Some of us have religious or race affiliations that define us. Few of us are just defined by the term "human". In the event that we are defined by our diet, i.e. a raw vegan, are we any less a raw vegan if we slip and eat some of the holiday offerings? Obviously, if we slip often enough, we, like the monkey, will not survive, and we know the importance of eating the right foods. Our lives are consumed by the need to line our habits up with our belief system. Our skins fit more comfortably (figuratively and literally) when we do.
Of course, this brings us to why we slip. Like the monkey, perhaps we get distracted and miss the next branch. Perhaps the branch is slippery and hard to grab hold of. Perhaps we misjudge how far away the next swing will be. Perhaps we just convince ourselves it isn't that important. My personal guess is that we are addicted to the societal brick walls that keep all of us from reaching our full potential. These deterents are intended to distract and addict us. It takes every effort we can make to overcome them.
I am reminded of the 12 step program taught in AA. Maybe some of you are familiar with it. Here are the first 3 steps. Most of us never get through these...
1. We admit we are powerless over the addictive substance and that our lives have become unmanageable because of it. (We really don't want to admit that we are addicted, do we? Seems too incredible that a food could control our lives... after all, aren't I a higher being and capable of being above that? This step truly is about humility.)
2. We come to believe that a Power greater than ourselves can restore us to sanity. (Again, the humility principle comes into play.)
3. We make a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understand Him. (Not as easy as it sounds...)
You can check this page out if this appeals to you (www.aa.org/en_pdfs/smf-121_en.pdf). I suspect you've probably decided I'm nuts for looking at food this way, but it is what it is for me. Without this belief system I am hopelessly mired in my addictions. For me, being a raw vegan is a very spiritual experience. I am convinced anything that distracts me from eating the foods I know are right for me is an effort on the part of the adversary to pull me away from the spirituality that will ultimately help me to fulfill my potential.
2009 has been an incredible year. We have made so many new friends this year through our work at the Beaver Street Market and at the East Palatka Farmer's Market. We would never have envisioned it having the effect on us that it has had. We are so grateful for each and every one of our contacts even if we have not had an effect in their lives. Each one has taught us something, even the ones that turn up their noses and walk quickly away. Of course, the ones that have actually become our friends have been sources of joy and fulfillment. I especially have to express my gratitude for Elizabeth who we have known for several years. She asked us why our weight had changed so much and as we explained our diet to her, she and her family embraced it. She knew too about Darius' trials and listened to how the raw vegan diet was helping him. What a blessing she is to us as she continues her journey with us!
The list is longer: the Knitschs who express their gratitude each and every week for the lovely produce we bring them (their words); the Mallory family who won a cooking contest by highlighting our organic produce; the Heekins whose children use their change to buy a carrot or tangerine when they come by; Brian who loves our ranch dressing; the sisters as we call them who are struggling to fully embrace the raw vegan lifestyle, Tatayana and Lourdes, our dear friends who struggle as well in other ways; Dee who so enthusiastically inspires us; Ed and Robert and Lisa, our newest friends, who are making remarkable health strides due to their change in habits. There are others: John and Richard and Jeanna and Mary and Rani and Kelley and Roxanne and Tesha and Kim and Gordon who share the message with anyone who will listen. It is so exciting to be in the company of any of these people. Thank you for coming into our lives. Of course, there are some who started out with us and have gone in other directions, and we appreciate them too. All have taught us something. Even the one-hit wonders are coming into my mind now, and I have special feelings of gratitude for them as well.
My biggest debt goes to Darius who lives his life day in and day out with complete faith in the inspiration given to us back in November of 2007. What's interesting about that is my first exposure to raw veganism was when he was a little boy of 18 months when his little brother was born. I was very sick at that time and became acquainted with a raw vegan, Darlene. She introduced me to green drinks and carrot juice which quickly got me on track. While Darius enjoyed his daily "gween dwink" and carrot juice, and a multitude of apples and bananas every day, my family as a whole was not very supportive of the raw vegan lifestyle, and I was sure I could never eat "all raw fruits and vegetables"; still, I knew there was something to it even if I could never do it. Little did I know what a part it would play in my later life (and his!).
May 2010 be a year of progress for all of us is my hope and prayer. It is a fun journey to do together...