Friday, December 6, 2013

There Is Never Enough Ice Cream.

Marc Maron made this statement in the opening of a recent episode his WTF podcast.  To be clear, this was not a comment on ice cream, per se.
We are, most of us anyway, are in possession of a broken heart, a fractured mind, a damaged soul, or some combination of the three.
Obviously, when a thing breaks, the natural urge is to seek repair.  To apply a bandage.  Unlike a broken bone, there are injuries that never heal and necessitate ongoing care.
How we medicate speaks volumes about our suffering.  Alcohol.  Marijuana.  Cocaine.  Heroine.  Crystal meth.  Pills.  Food.  Sugar.  Prolonged exercise.  Sex.  Excessive blogging (srsly).  We all have something.
Here is a test.  Does your treatment of choice continue to give off good feelings long after the treatment has concluded?  Or, are you already seeking the next fix before the current one has worn off?
The latter fits for most drug addicts and alcoholics.  Sex addicts and chronic masturbaters also experience a quick fall from the euphoria.
Maron is a addict, fourteen years sober.  No drugs.  No booze.  His only vices - too much coffee, nicotine lozenges, masturbation (who among us hasn’t?), and food.  The mind of an addict will always find a way to mediate, even when choosing to close off former avenues.
He discussed research about the mind and its receptors and how ice cream connects to us.  I love ice cream.  I hate the way my teeth feel after I eat it, enough to say never again.  There is always a next time.  It seems so minor, so trivial, yet I have not been able to turn off that want.
The research, stripped down for the purpose of this post, showed that ice cream is never as good as the first time.  Every time we consume it afterward is in pursuit of the rush from that first time.  And it is never as good.  That is because during that first time we are still pure to the experience, it is all new to us, to our receptors.
You don’t yet know that you need it.  You can really leave it if you’ve never taken it.
For some people the receptors don’t receive properly, and the experience is a one-off.  For others the pursuit lasts a lifetime.  Countless hours, years even, chasing the ghost of that first time.
What science showed, that the mind never really accepts, is that the next time will never be as good as the first time.  Because even if it is, we believe it can be better still.  What was once mind blowing is now meh.  This is why the addict od’s, the alcoholic drowns, and even why some marriages fail.  The next time is no longer good enough and the pursuit cannot end.
After that first bowl or cone, there never is enough ice cream.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

all i've got is time

some lessons need to be learned again and again to stick.  other lessons just stick.  put them into practice and they stay with you.

we talk about "making" time and managing time and losing time like we actually control time.  in reality we only control what we do with the time allotted to us.

most people rush through life.  work is to be endured and finished as soon as possible.  relationships are seldom given the time necessary to grow and flourish, or to wither and die naturally.  we try to reduce the alphabet to two letters, getting from A to Z without any of those other extraneous symbols in between.

it all reminds me of running a 5k.  the distance takes time to cover, from start to finish, but it is done soon.  most distance races are meant to be run as quickly as possible, and this one is no exception.  never does the 5k racer say "my, that was a beautiful course".  there is simply no time to take in the scenery.

on the other hand, an ultra marathon is another story.  to finish, for most entrants, the race is about management.  of time, nourishment, physicality, mentality.  you have a lot of time.  you have all sorts of time.  with all that time you have a lot of time to think.

there are pressing matters to be dealt with in the moment.  there are other matters that may be shelved for a bit, to be dealt with at a latter stage of the event.  some matters must be dealt with, whether in the moment or eventually.

other matters, though, simply fall away never to be considered again.  no worry, no bluster, no bluff.  they simply fall away.

that is one lesson that will stay with me, from my days as an ultramarathoner.  it is a lesson i employ every day.  if something is bothering me, a thought that takes hold of me like some rabid dog, i try to set it aside.  shelf it, so to speak.  if i stay present moment, focused on actual tasks, that rabid dog will succumb and die a nature, timely, death.  in most cases i am happy to let it slip away.

i do not face that dog everyday, but i am getting better at facing it down.