It’s been a whirlwind summer, yet my time back at school and in front of a computer have returned. Gone are the carefree days of shuttling my son around to city pools, the cut rate aquarium with birds and lizards, and the park with the splash pad and dozens of gleefully screaming children. Gone are the times of waking up with the boy, eating a leisurely breakfast in front of Paw Patrol or Sesame Street, I with my coffee and Garrett with his beloved chocolate milk, desperately tilting his sippy cup back in an effort to drink faster. Gone are the days of meeting my wife for lunch at The Coop for sandwiches and beer and kombucha.
Alas, summer is truly over.
I did have one experience this summer that I felt like sharing, especially because it’s one that was a long time in the making. I’m constantly amazed at how immature I can be, even for someone who calls himself an “old guy” (when he really isn’t). However, I am grateful for any personal growth I can effect. In the not-too-distant past, wifey and I watched a documentary called “Cowspiracy.” With a title that awful, it had to be good. In said documentary, the narrator (a pretty monotone dude for film narration) outlined the many ways in which the beef industry is destroying civilization (cows are the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions, are some of the largest drains on the world’s potable water supply, diets high in red meat can kill you and worse, the cruelty of the beef and meat industries toward animals and surrounding communities, etc.). It affected me greatly, but really only because it confirmed things I already knew. For a while, I’ve had inklings and glimmering, vague notions about how disgusting it is to eat meat that has been treated like a new car or an alarm clock, processed on an assembly line rife with “accidents.” I haven’t bought ground beef in the longest time, but the reminder of human flesh and bovine feces winding up in what we eat was needed.
It affected me a lot, yet I did little (if anything) to change my habits. I continued the mantra of “I should eat less red meat, fewer animal products, more plants,” but really only paid it lip service. This summer, wifey and I had the pleasure of listening to that same monotone narrator in another awfully titled documentary, “What the Health?!” To make a long story short, many doctor’s attested to the fact that a plant-based diet is not only necessary for our continued health and survival, but what humans were actually designed to do. I know that one-sentence description probably doesn’t have you sold, but after seeing this film and reminding myself of those notions I’d begun to consider from the last documentary, I was pretty well done for.
I’m sure everyone is familiar with the metaphor of the cave, finally emerging from it and being unable to return to the former, darker, more ignorant way of life. When we meet with a notion that challenges our own, we can either justify the bejeezus out of our current habits and shoot down the new idea (denial ain’t just a river in Egypt, baby), or we can admit that the new way is right, better (whatever you want to call it), accept it, and change the way we conduct ourselves moving forward.
It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done, but I can’t shut my eyes and I’m compelled to make some pretty drastic changes to my life. It’s exciting and terrifying, but here’s the real reason for this post and the thing I’m proud of myself for doing: I did not go into denial. I did not bury my head in the sand because it would be convenient and delicious to continue eating all of the meat, dairy and animal products that I want. Shit, I was living in a vaguely paleo state before, which meant five eggs a day, bacon and sausage whenever I wanted, and chicken breast was the new carrot sticks.
This is not easy.
What aspects of your life do you live in denial about? Are their changes you could make to improve your health? Are their practices you currently engage in that you find unethical, but are so socially acceptable that you feel no impetus to change? Has there been something nagging at your conscience for years and you’ve been too timid to make the change? It’d be nice to hear someone else ramble on for a change, so light ’em if you got ’em, folks!
And, before we part, I thought I’d share the one real saving grace with these life changes: