Even though I’m 45 years old, I have homework.
And I give it to myself.
My homework this year is writing a daily essay on love. Specifically, I am doing one missive per day from How to Love by Thich Nhat Hahn.
I’m on day 60.
Today’s essay, which I finished mere seconds ago, feels like perfect timing.
Especially the day after Thanksgiving.
So, two things.
First, we have an an opportunity to practice reverence when we consume, rather than gobbling, hoarding, grabbing, or snagging.
And second, we can expand the idea of consume to mean so much more than food.
My homework today was to write an essay on What Love Needs to Survive (page 75 in How to Love).
Here, Thich Nhat Hahn explains that Love needs nourishment from four specific sources.
Not just nourishment, but conscious consumption.
One source, you’ll guess, is food.
The other three are:
- the nourishment we consume with our senses
- that what motivates and drives us is nourishing
- what we allow into our consciousness is either nourishing, depleting, or “empty calories”.
So, raise your hand if your Thanksgiving experience included a heapin’ helpin’ from those three sources!
Anyone, anyone? Beuller?…
But seriously, I bet many of you sat down at a gloriously set table where you’d be happy with a bag of microwave popcorn because it was such a feast for the eyes.
Or you drove around all day delivering meals to homebound folks, or keeping company with beings who needed it (plant, animal, mineral)
Or you read inspiring perspectives on the colonial nature of Thanksgiving and how white people can work to heal the damage we’ve caused.
Maybe those things happened.
And if so, I tip my hat to you.
But the vast majority of people (maybe not the people reading this, but most Americans) pigged out, survived awkward family dynamics, then checked out in front on the TV in hopes that their too-full belly and frazzled nervous system will eventually recover.
As it happens, this behavior is not What Love Needs to Survive.
It’s the opposite.
Being checked out, eating because you can, swallowing and metabolizing uncomfortable family dynamics, zoning out and watching TV are not exactly food for the soul.
So, whatever. Sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do, as they say.
And, that was yesterday.
So what about today?
How can you exalt consumption? Make it holy, divine?
How can you curate what enters your body, mind, and spirit?
Standing in line at Best Buy to gobble up cheap TV’s?
Burning up your keyboard snorting deals via online sales?
Grabbing the last slice of pumpkin pie before anyone else gets it?
Not the folks reading this Arche-telegram. That shit will simply not do.
Let’s start how we usually do in my classes, with the senses.
What deliciousness can you offer your eyes, ears, nose, mouth, and skin today?
What deliciousness does your spirit crave? Goodwill? Safety? Understanding? Love?
And what about your awareness. What could you drizzle into your consciousness that will leave your mind better for having known it (I recently learned that Octopuses have estrogen, so there’s that).
You really are what you eat.
And you eat with your mind, your heart, and your spirit.
If you feel like a train wreck, and all you’ve done is “eat” the news, election drama, or over-polished social media posts, is it any wonder?
Like the kid who’s like, my tummy hurts, and we find out that she’s just eaten 10 cupcakes, a bag of Doritos, and 3 Cokes. We’re like yeah, ya think?
You gotta take responsibility for what you are consuming and how it makes you feel.
So, consciously pepper your mind with something beautiful after watching too much upsetting political news.
Offer your senses something wonderful, in the tender yet fiercely protective way you’d make sure your children or your pets get meals every day.
On a day like Black Friday, reclaim the idea of “consumer holiday”.
Redefine it to mean a day of celebrating the ways you nourish Love! Your beloved Self!
Choose some new things to consume.
Curate your consumption.
You are what you eat!
love & self love,