Last week, I wrote about a few simple thoughts I’ve had over this last month regarding my experiment with vegetarianism. I must say, out of the long list of things that I am attempting to accomplish this year (which by the way, I have crested the 6-month mark) this past month has been on of the most profound ones from a learning and experiential perspective.
In the last post, I talked about conviction. Not only in regards to the reasons that people decide to forego meat as a lifestyle, but what role strong moral or logical beliefs have on how we interpret and act on the world around us.
Today, I want to talk about another lesson learned in the month of September: The Joys of Simplicity.
First, let me tell you a bit about some of my experiences with simplicity during my recent trip to Charleston, SC.
As I had mentioned and asked on Facebook, prior to my trip, I was seriously considering altering my vegetarian plan (and some might call it cheating … myself included) to include fish and seafood (called “pescatarianism” – normally a stepping stone from meat-eating to vegetarianism, but not considered by “true vegetarians” to be an authentic vegetarian lifestyle). The truth being that I wanted to sample some of the various foods in town, especially after hearing of some of the varieties of seafood available. Cravings are a topic (and lesson learned) for another week.
My colleagues were very gracious, often asking me if a restaurant was going to be suitable for my recently adopted lifestyle choice. It was honestly very sweet, and an authentic demonstration of their sensitivity to the real difficulty I was having with the choice that week. That being said, I didn’t really have the same dilemma that they did when staring at the menus. My selections were much more limited. Considering the lack of meat, or items cooked in a stock made from animal protein, my menu was unequivocally much smaller than theirs. While I will admit that at first it was troubling,
at the same time, it was rather freeing.
– – –
When I started this month of being meat-free, I got quite a deal feedback and comment from friends and family. My mother (bless her heart) was worried of my cholesterol, when she heard I would probably be eating more eggs for breakfast (and for the record, I had a complete blood work done just 6 months ago, and my cholesterol – the bad kind – was just fine).
My wife, on the other hand, wondered if instead of dying from lack of meat, would perish from boredom of my limited palette.
You see, my eating, while it had been without meat, had also becoming increasingly simple:
My breakfast consisted typically of 1-2 eggs or some greek yogurt, flavored with fruit.
My lunch was often a vegetable (simple or starch), a simple sugar (fruit like an apple, banana, grapes, or pineapple), and a protein source (almost always either some type of cheese or a slice of whole wheat bread with peanut butter).
Snacks consisted of fruits, raw vegetables, or nuts, and dinner was often the side dishes prepared for the family (the wife and children ate the meat).
Once again, something that people might have considered a burden …
… felt oddly freeing …
– – –
I’ve been trying to make sense of this sensation this feeling. That by my self-confining of diet, and increased planning, my overall diet was greatly simplified.
Even so, by decreasing my options, the last month has felt the most freeing.
Granted, for the last several months, my eating habits have changed. I notice it even more as I look back over our families eight years as a family. There was a time (though Summer swears against it) that we ate hamburger helper … or flaked mashed potatoes, or “meals in a freezer box”. That isn’t the case really anymore. Summer, as the edible compass of the family, has helped reshape how we look at foods, and granted (as I have mentioned before) I don’t know if I am ready to forgo meat as a whole at the moment, we sure understand the difference between fresh and/or organic and heavily processed meat foodstuffs.
Now don’t misunderstand me. This is not a post about how you are eating wrongly or a post about me sharing horrible facts about random additives to food. That, honestly isn’t the point. There are many more important things in life to spend time thinking about.
And that is the point.
In the process of simplification, an interesting thing happened. When I wasn’t concerned with what I should or should not eat (as I had spent very little time planning and committing to a simplified diet), and my energy wasn’t focused on the moral dilemmas of eating things that were going to mess up my weight loss plans or specific dietary plans for my vegetarian month, I found pockets of time to spend on other things. I have moved at a much faster pace through my next book in my list in the last two weeks.
Is that a likely link? Maybe not, but it isn’t an impossible one and it is a link that lends itself to a common principles that have made good common sense the whole world over:
Simplicity leads to clarity.
Think about it.
The simplest beliefs are often the clearest, and the ones that are held the most tightly. The ones that are the most meaningful.
The simple life allows for flexibility, malleability, the capability to respond more easily to unexpected changes.
People … very powerful and influential people … ones with resources sometimes incalculable … will take vacations, sabbaticals, leaves of absence … forgoing the conveniences of life, simplifying there’s for a time, for a specific purpose.
I seem to also remember a certain person who once suggested to us to look to the birds, noticing that each of their needs are cared for, and calling for us to wonder why we worry about anything in the first place. We have so many things that give us more and more information … to formulate worries beyond our wildest imaginations.
So, if you were to take something from this rambling, open-ended, disjointed post, let it be this:
Look for areas to simplify your life, and weigh the cost of doing so. Sometimes chains don’t look like chains … until you take them off.