sunday thought: binge & purge

08/08/2010 § Leave a comment

I remember someone saying how enlightening it was that life moved in waves. At times, there were periods when everything went wrong — the darkness — followed by spurts of everything coming together — the light. For years, people have tried to create sayings and aphorisms, catch-phrases and proverbs to explain this phenomenon, providing light at the end of others’ dark tunnels.

The funny thing is you do not realize how deep a well is until you emerge from its mouth. You can get lost in the shadows of despair, or whatever, and feel aimless as your eyes repeatedly fail to adjust. Yet, for some reason, you seem to find the ladder. Perhaps your ascend will be slow, perhaps you will fall off a rung or remember that you forgot your cat at the bottom, choosing to go back and retrieve her. Usually, it does not matter because the dark is always the same.

Finally, like Plato’s popularized cave metaphor, we see the light. We are momentarily blinded as our eyes adjust. We see vibrant colours and images of pretty birds, we see trees blowing in the breeze and black currant bushes ripe for picking. What we see is nature. What we see is freedom.

Then, what?  We go back.

We are vulnerable creatures because we are so removed from nature. As a friend once said, “the reason that our brains are so fucking awesome is because we basically suck as animals. We are bipedal, we have no fur, we have shitty claws. Right now, if we went back into the wild, we would surely die.” It’s terrifying to think.

Today, I came home from work and decided to crack open Nietzsche’s Twilight of the Idols. His sinister approach and cynical view of life is lighthearted and reassuring. Basically, throughout pages and pages of quips that he came up with right before he went insane, he tells us that we are nothing but animals, so get over ourselves. I do not doubt that Kurt Vonnegut read the same words and gently chuckled “hi ho.”

On Friday night, for the first time in a long time, I decided to head to book club. It beckoned me, like a beacon of light in times of dark reading. Beforehand, I decided to purchase a few tall cans for my roommate and I to share. We drank them all. I left him half-drunk on our backyard balcony and rode to Yonge & St. Clair. I gave hugs to all whom I had not seen in months and popped cube after cube of cheese and crumb after crumb of cracker into my mouth. My belly expanded with every overindulgence that I could cram into my body. I was full-up-to-here, yet I could not quite put my finger on my inclination towards excess.

As Nietzsche points out, luxury and decadence is usually a marker of a society on the decline, the binge before the purge. Later, when the society crumbles, most will blame over-consumption as the cause for the catastrophic collapse when, according to Nietzsche, the over indulgence was actually a consequence of decay, as though the society inherently knew it was headed towards disaster. So, everyone seized the day. That comment made me think about what my friend said — perhaps our bipedal, claw-, or hair-lessness was not the cause, but the consequence of our amazing brains.

I can honestly say that Friday night I was not in the best head space. Perhaps I could feel a sniffle coming or intuitively foresaw the busy weeks ahead. Whatever it was, on Saturday evening I paid attention to it, asserted it, had a nap and walked away from it. If I had forced fed my brain anything else, I would have been on the verge of purging, well, something.

Instead, I ate tacos in the park with the golden sun setting against the green-leafed trees, sky blue with pockets of puffy cotton and thought:

This is nature, this is freedom, this is life. Get over my self.

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