Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Cereal's like the future

I feel alone and overwhelmed by the enormousness of this indefinite time frame known as "the future". Even if I am perfectly happy, thinking about the future can turn me into a whirling dervish. This is why I do yoga, to calm my mind. This is why I stay as busy as possible, to keep myself in control. If I have a task at hand, then I can put my energy into that task. My mind is developing remarkable work-arounds to my distraction efforts. I'll all of a sudden be walking down the street, finishing doing something or thinking about something, and next in the cue is always, always thinking about the future. "Hi self, Glad you took care of buying milk at the corner store. Now back to the matter at hand: the future." "Good thing you worked out what you are going to say to Sleepy's when you have to call them again to straighten out your bill. Time to think about the future, again." And so it goes.

The funny thing about the future is that no matter how well you have it figured out, it just keeps coming. No such thing as a future tourniquet. If the future is coming, and it always is, then I'm worrying.

When I think about people from history that have exhibited calm, even in the face of great adversity, I think of the Dalai Lama, of Ghandi, and of Abraham Lincoln. It's no wonder then that Mr. Lincoln would have said, ""The best thing about the future is that it comes only one day at a time." So even if I am worried about 5 years down the line, next year, or next week, I only have to deal with it one small piece, a day, at a time.

The task of the future is too heavy, too much to bear today. Of course it is - I am one person, in one moment of time. I started to think about all the things I'll do repetitively for the rest of my life and what it would be like to do them all in one moment. Let's take how many bowls of cereal I'm going to eat between now and the day I die. I am hoping to live to be an ancient woman - my palm reader, Miss Susan, says this is highly likely. Let's assume she is correct on that count. I also love cereal. I mean, really love cereal. If I could find a way to justify eating it for every meal, I would. So if I live 60 more years, that's roughly 3000 weeks. If I eat about 4 bowls of cereal a week, that's 12,000 bowls. Well, if ate all of those bowls RIGHT NOW, I'd probably die, or be very, very ill. Anything taken in such massive amounts is not good for us, and thinking about the future is no exception.

What Mr. Lincoln was saying is what we hear dietitians saying all of the time: the key is moderation. Take the future in tiny pieces, a bit at a time. Spoonful by delicious spoonful.

The above picture can be found at

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