Der Mensch ist was er isst, said Feuerbach, and he was right about that, as he was, alas, about so much else. One is what one eats, and as the Christmas goodies start to pile up on the family groaning board, I fear that I have taken one step closer to becoming Santa Claus again this past year and am poised to take another.
Fair spouse adopted different habits of eating a couple of years ago, inspired by brother-in-law Daniel, and looks like a “dem fine woman,” to quote Lewis’s The Magician’s Nephew. Her daily different choices amounted to something—or, rather, less than the something to which my daily different choices amount.
I’m too fat. No, no, that’s very kind of you but I know what I’m talking about: I used to not be fat, so I know what that’s like, and this ain’t it. Why am I fat? Because, yes, my metabolism has become more efficient (what a deceptively benign way of saying I need fewer calories now, right when I have acquired the connoisseurship to really put ’em to good use), because I sit in a car for a long commute through Vancouver instead of walking to and from a Winnipeg bus, and because I work out less than I used to ([insert convincing reason for that here]).
Middle-aged body + sedentary lifestyle + undiminished ingestion of food and drink = Falstaff (to keep things Christmassy). Yikes.
The computer people say, “Garbage in, garbage out.”
I say, “Garbage in, garbage in.”
I apparently have decided I want to stay fat. I prefer, in a general but sincere way, not to be overweight. Yet if one analyzes my actual habits of consumption, it is clear that I intend to do nothing about my fatness because I am doing nothing about my fatness. Same food, same amounts, same result.
The pattern holds true in my intellectual life, or emotional life, or spiritual life. I am what I eat. My mind is what I feed it. My various emotions will shrink or swell as I cater to them. And my spirit will become more noble or more nasty precisely according to the diet it’s on.
Proverbs 1 reminds us that Wisdom seeks us out, longs to instruct and inform us, wants us to be her lifelong companion, and will gladly feed us from her table. But if we choose to ignore her, day by day, and seek other company instead, when the crunch of calamity comes, she will not be found.
If I dine at Folly’s kitchen every day, I become made of foolishness. If I ingest stupidity or vulgarity or sentimentality or vanity or escapism all the time, I become stupid, vulgar, sentimental, vain or disengaged.
So here’s to eating better in 2013, starting today . . . as I spy a foil-wrapped package of chocolates across the room.
If you’re quiet, you can hear: It’s singing to me, and I need to stop typing now and find a mast to which to lash myself.
Or I should do as Odysseus made his sailors do, and stuff something better into my head instead.