What Feeds You?

I woke up with morning with words in my head, not the usual song lyrics or dream remnant, but words without attachment to anything in particular.

“Even a rat will eventually stop pushing the lever that shocks him and will find the lever that feeds him.”

Damn.

I have mulled those words for hours now and the more I think about them, the more they apply.

On October 28, I started to get sick. I had a tickle in the back of my throat and felt low energy. I rarely get sick, so when I do, it is a sign to me that something is up. By the night of the 29th when I had a major event planned. I was full on into head cold and was sort of here and not here. I also stepped in a very deep, rocky hole and twisted my hip, back, and knee, plus skinned up my foot and shin. None of this was coming together well. The event was great and no complaints there except for our sweat lodge burning down. Whoever left it last did not put out the candle and sometime in the night, it caught and smoldered to the ground. We are thrilled no one was injured and the mountain top did not burn down, but we mourn its loss, plus the many prayer ties inside, plus the painted dipper gourd we used, plus the sacred sweetgrass braid that belonged to a Native American elder who is now passed. Eric is getting the materials together to build another and one of our circle members is contributing some blankets.

I know I wrote about these things before, but in retrospect, they have greater significance than when I was merely reporting them before. In his wonderful book Life Strategies, Dr. Phil McGraw gives one of many life facts: “People do what works.” For any behavior, a person gets a payoff or they would not do it. A person must make a concerted, directed, conscious effort to override the need for payoff and look to long term benefits in order to achieve beyond that natural predilection. As Eric has often pointed out to me, I am not a person who tends to move beyond that immediate payoff point. I like to see results for my actions because I hate wasted energy and wasted action. When I don’t see results, I give up.

I should amend that to say that if I don’t see results from something I do not enjoy doing, I give up. If I enjoy what I am doing, I will keep at it well past the dead horse has been utterly beaten and will take any measures necessary to resist admitting that what I am doing is not working.

Even when something works, if it isn’t fun, I will hide from it after a certain point, much like that rat up there in the picture. My brain says, “OK, enough of that,” and starts looking for a way out.

After my recent illness passed, I never got around to feeling better again. I still have a slight case of the sniffles, but the heavy head and coughing and runny nose is past. The “sick,” however, stuck around and I did not regain my energy. I feel slow and sick and sluggish. I never feel rested and my vibrancy is gone. I don’t like that.

At first, I thought I still had shrapnel of the virus left in my body causing my symptoms and sure, that is likely part of it. In retrospect, however, I know that I comforted myself with foods I knew were not just “not good” for me, but were outright “bad” for me. I completely overdid on the sugar as comfort and when I was doing it, it did not feel like I was overdoing, but when I look back, I can see that I took in a LOT of sugar items. I have been off of refined sugar for months and my body did not respond well to all that poison going into it.

In addition to diet and exercise (a whole other story), I can see how the words from my sleep apply to other areas of my life as well. My goal for the week is to purge my body and hit the reset button, to purge my life of behaviors that hurt me and pursue the ones that “feed” me, in body, mind, and spirit.

No more hiding and no more excuses. Time to get busy living or get busy dying. Our 50s seem to be the decade when the rubber hits the road in that respect.

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