I’ve thought a lot about how to handle this blog post.
Do I lay a lot of information out, beforehand? Do I lay groundwork? Do I risk tipping my hand?
Or do I just dive in?
First off, do you know the term “thought experiment”? Even if you haven’t heard it, you’re likely to be able to tell what it means. But to start, here’s the first paragraph of the “official” definition from the online “Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.”
“Thought experiments are devices of the imagination used to investigate the nature of things. Thought experimenting often takes place when the method of variation is employed in entertaining imaginative suppositions. They are used for diverse reasons in a variety of areas, including economics, history, mathematics, philosophy, and physics. Most often thought experiments are communicated in narrative form, sometimes through media like a diagram. Thought experiments should be distinguished from thinking about experiments, from merely imagining any experiments to be conducted outside the imagination, and from psychological experiments with thoughts. They should also be distinguished from counterfactual reasoning in general, as they seem to require an experimental element.”
Anyway, I think I’ll just dive in….
I have this friend, see. Good friend. Smart friend. Beloved friend.
Pretty. Sensuous. Gentle.
But this friend has an addiction. This friend of mine, smart as she is, lives in a prison because of this addiction. She gets up in the morning, and in very short order the demon of the addiction is on her. She very quickly cannot function if she doesn’t get her hit. She becomes weak, queasy, light-headed, pained, and grumpy.
And no. I am NOT talking about coffee.
Nope. This would be a FAR less interesting thought experiment if I were aiming for easy prey.
Anyway, this friend is CERTAIN that this addiction is healthy, pleasurable, and fundamental to enjoyment of life. It’s not an addiction, she says. It’s just the way things are. It’s just who she is. It’s the sensible way to be, and life would be worse if she challenged her personal status quo.
So I’m all like…
“But I’ve broken this addiction, Babycakes. And I’m much happier, healthier, clearer, stronger, flush with free time, in no danger from missing my fix, and I even smell better because my body’s not dealing with all the chemical reactions of dealing with this drug all the time. And I swear to God I was more addicted than you, and more certain than you that I couldn’t change things.”
So she’s all like….
“Well I’m just different. I’m not you. And this is what I want and who I am.”
And then I’m all like….
“Of course. Your life belongs to you. I’m not trying to change you. I’m just assuming you like to learn and think outside the box and engage in debate about facts while doing the best possible job filtering out judgment.”
And then she’s all like….
“Um, OK. But I still feel like a mother bear with you trying to step between me and my cub.”
Which makes me all like….
“That’s a good analogy. I should write that down….”
So I wrote it down. And then I started pondering this post.
Do you want to be in the position my friend is in? Doesn’t it sound terrible? Would you love to be freed of that?
I suppose I should be honest: I still do this drug once a day. I love it. But… my body handles that small dose better. And while I do need it, the addiction is gone. I can go without with ease, even for multiple days. But I wouldn’t DREAM of going back to the prison she’s in, now that I’m out…
…of being obsessed with it all day long. Too many consequences.
Before I clear up the mystery here, let me describe how I first learned about this device I’m using on you. Some years ago, I remember the process of… putting clothes in the washing machine being described with odd technical language and without reference to clothes or the washing machine. Then I was asked if I could remember this long complicated process. And I couldn’t come close. It sounded impossibly complex.
But then when I was told it was just about washing clothes in the washing machine, I was all like “wow and now it’s easy” and stuff.
What am I talking about?
I’m talking about….
Yup. Good old fashioned food. We gotta eat three meals a day, right? We gotta keep our strength up, right? We gotta do what society says, right, and spend lots of money on food?
Well, I was a bigger food junkie than you. I was FAMOUS (Amos) for how much I could eat, and how fast. I’d inhale appetizers at parties, while others goggled, and then still out eat them at the main meal. Once I ate a whole large Pizza Hut pan pizza in one sitting, though the last 2 slices took me 40 minutes: I wasn’t quitting, though I looked pregnant afterward! Yet because of metabolism and exercise, I never got heavy….
I’m trying to get you to not dismiss me. It’d be very easy to dismiss me. You’re probably violently allergic to the idea of only having one meal a day, or even one meal every other day. But I want you to finish out the thought experiment with an open mind. I’m hoping you can do that. I’m hoping you know that the best learning is often in the most uncomfortable places.
Speaking of allergy, this whole improving alteration reminds me of a great news story I heard on NPR. Every listen to “Radio Lab”? Google it.
Anyway, they did a show once on what it turns out is VERY often the cure for allergies. It turns out that… the elimination of a low level hookworm presence in the intestines very often causes the immune system to rebel, causing allergies. Many, many people, by cultivating a low level of hookworm presence in their gut, find their horrible allergies just vanish.
Scary? Yes. As scary as going against appetite and eating much less than we’re told? Perhaps.
For most of my adult life, I struggled with how eating often seemed to make me feel worse. I loved the food and the taste, but I’m very attentive to my body, and I felt a drop off, a distortion, a heaviness, unless I ate perfectly light and healthy stuff. The sound I always imagined my body making, after eating like that (like I felt I had to), was the sound you hear so often in the film “The Empire Strikes Back.” It’s the sound the hyperdrive makes when Han and Chewy try to activate it, but it’s broken.
I could tell certain foods were worse for me. Pigging out on, say, cheddar cheese and Wheat Thins was a dynamite that made me feel comatose for hours, for example.
Oh all right. I’ll show you the Wheat Thins too.
So I ate better, but the problem didn’t go away. My body kept hinting I should be going against the, uh, grain. But it made no sense.
Anyway, over the course of years, I started eating less often. I cut out lunch. Then I had just a smoothie for breakfast. Then I had just a bite of hummus for breakfast. Then I had just the contents of an herbal tea bag for breakfast.
Then I had nothing.
And you know what? My body got used to it. I didn’t suffer terribly. My body was all like “OK. So this is the deal? Well OK then. I guess it’s like exercise. I’ll adapt and learn to like it.”
I admit that part of my problem turned out to be sensitivities to sugar, wheat and dairy (not yogurt, which is awesome because of the beneficial bacteria), but not all of it. And BOY did I not want to admit wheat was a problem. I mean… it’s EVERYwhere. And so tasty! I mean… pizza? Sure I can cook my own using awesome white spelt flour, but who doesn’t love Pizza Hut?
I suspect that pretty much everyone has sensitivities to these things. Research is pointing that way. But MANY people, like me, refuse to consider them as culprits for physical and mental issues.
Fatigue. Digestion. Cloudy mind.
We tell ourselves “That’s just life,” or “That’s just how my body works.”
Side note: I’m wondering if I should vary where I put the images. Is it repetitive for them to be centered all the time? Let’s try a military march!
How was that?
Actually, it makes sense to me to use the military analogy. I look back on that “every four hours” craving for food, which I couldn’t function well through unless I was obsessed with something, like a hard time in the military. The relief at being free is so immense. I tell you. I just drink water all day, feeling clear, clean, great and never tired. I still love food, and the “fast” of the day helps me enjoy dinner more. It builds appreciation. And again, it’s so much cheaper, and there’s no danger of going off the rails if food isn’t available. Life get’s a lot simpler.
I suppose I really dove into i more when I happened to find some new research online about how maybe we’re evolved to eat just one meal a day, and for dinner. It makes evolutionary sense, after all. Think about it. Before “Civilization,” what creature could survive if, when hungry, it couldn’t function? Actually, what makes sense is HIGHER functionality when hungry. That’s how you’d survive hunger. And that’s just how I feel.
I don’t get tired in the afternoon. I don’t need coffee to function. And I know it’s safer to be conventionally wrong than unconventionally right, but I just want to give these facts about my experience. At least others, who have the right to live however they want, can maybe learn about new possibilities.
There are a lot of books about “the fasting state” and how good it is for you. Your body goes into a sort of defensive posture, more resistant to disease, and clearer. There’s a lot of evidence to suggest that people who live like this live longer.
Let me see if I can find some books for you….
Now, I’m not out to sell anything. I just want to help.
And I didn’t come to where I am by following some fad. As much as I love food and to eat lots and often… my body, which I pay VERY close attention to… just kept telling me this was what it wanted.
And it was right. It took me years to believe it, but it was right.
Did I mention that body odor is much less of a problem? With much less chemical reactions going on in the body, there’s a lot less smell. It’s striking, really. My body being in that clear, defensive state just helps prevent odor. Strange.
I suppose I’ll wrap it up. You probably already think I’m nuts, but that’s OK as long as you go with walnuts. Walnuts are AWESOME and make my body feel so good. Tasty dry roasted peanuts? Ugh….
Hopefully you’ve at least learned of some interesting new possibilities. Have you?
Follow my lead! Wipe that all-too-common, sad, tragic “I can’t stop doing what I feel like doing even if it’s all negative….” look off your face! People usually wear that look when they know they should exercise more, not just for their benefit, but for the benefit of EVERYone who cares about them. Alas….
Then go out and find some hookworm larvae to rub on your feet and cure those allergies.
Bridget (Jones) challenged me with another blog topic. Watching paint dry. So I spent 8 hours yesterday in front of a sheetrock wall I’d just slathered in fresh, white, oil-based paint. And now I’m going to tell you all about it.
Excited? Me too. I’m all tingly. It might be the lingering effects of the fumes?
I’m doing fine. Relaxation sets in. I’m certain this will all be a meditative, transcendent Zen joy. I have perfect posture and in the background I have an album playing on my computer. It’s “Thunderstorm.” It’s my old reading and writing reliable album and isn’t AC/DC’s sequel to “Thunderstruck” but rather a real thunderstorm. I’m looking forward to the frogs at the end.
Am I cheating? Should I be watching paint dry with sound-deadening earplugs, to maximize focus? I’m not sure. And I wonder if watching paint dry during a thunderstorm will prevent the paint from drying.
I tell myself it’s the fumes. But it’s better to be safe than sorry. So, using my computer remote, I turn off the “music.” Then I unpocket my earplugs and plug my ears.
I’ve promised myself to stay sitting in my chair for the whole 8 hours. I wonder if I should’ve brought beer and a toilet.
It occurs to me that I seem to be staring into a white abyss. And the abyss seems to be staring back into me. I give the abyss the finger and, perhaps offended a how I’m breaking the established “staring contest” rules, it stops staring into me.
I laugh at it. “Ha ha!” It grumbles and tries to walk away. But it’s a wall, and it can’t move.
I breathe in more fumes. The abyss, pouting and ignoring me, begins to look like a void. Then it starts to appear like a fissure. Next it almost seems like a chasm.
I reach for a beer. Then I realize I didn’t bring any. So I breathe deep. Again.
I start to feel like I’m covered with fur.
I think I see a flea on me. I have to pee. I want some tea. The flea becomes a bee and charges like a fee.
I hiss at it, smacking it with a paw, claws out. I cut my leg. I lick the cut.
I start talking to the paint.
“Are you ever going to dry?
It talks back.
“What do YOU think, artistic type person?”
I frown and furrow my brow.
“I don’t think you’re ever going to dry. I think this will be like watching a pot ant waiting for it to boil.”
“I’m just paint. Do you really think I’m here to torture you”
I examine the nooks and crannies in the wall. Some of the tack holes got filled with paint. Some didn’t. A previous occupant left a perplexing forehead dent 8 feet up. A ragged, diagonal crack runs from the ceiling to a point four feet down, toward the mouse hole with the trap and the dried peanut butter.
“The Devil is in the details,” I reply.
I begin to think that the escapade I’m engaged in is a lot like the escapade of life.
I take another intoxicating oil-based breath, just to be sure I’m on the right track. My brain tingles and I become more convinced that I am right.
What is the meaning of life, the philosophers ask. To wait for your life to dry out, no philosophers reply, all the while looking for meaning where there is none. The more time goes on, the more you sense that you are on a futile course. So you engage in hedonism. And then maybe you remember that your children are in other rooms, with half-painted or even unpainted walls, so you think about that, for variety, or maybe get up and go help, thinking about how your line could just go on painting new rooms for all eternity and so feel that there is always purpose because the job is never done.
“Go get me a beer,” I tell the abyss.
“Go get one yourself,” it replies. “What am I? Your slave?”
I roll my eyes.
“I wish you were hotter,” I say to the white wall.
“Don’t look at me. I didn’t paint myself.”
“But I’m here to look at you. That’s my purpose.”
“Again. Whose fault is that?”
I contemplate turning around and staring at the wall behind me. It has a window. It has a poster of a woman. But I don’t want to cheat, or quit. I’m too close to the end.
I look down at my lap.
“That would be cheating too,” the white wall says.
I sigh, look up, and glare.
I start to think about the sky.
It could be the fresh air that goes with it. The white paint starts looking a whole lot like the World’s thickest and most uniform cloud bank. I search it for traces of grey, because rain would be interesting.
That makes me think of my “Thunderstorm” album. But I resist.
“If I were hot,” the abyss offers, “perhaps I would dry faster?”
“Don’t look at me,” I reply. “I’m not ready to set my house on fire.”
“You might? Later?”
“If there’s a torch at the end of my rope.”
I’m almost done. I can tell because I keep stealing glances at the wall clock with its irregular hands. I start to wonder if human beings are just apes with deformed brains. I want a banana.
“I won’t be dry in time,” the white wall says.
“I don’t care,” I reply. “I never meant to watch paint dry all the way.”
My back hurts. My butt hurts. I’ve got twenty minutes to go and I need to pee. With ten minutes to go I need to drop a load too. Then I start to see little George W. Bush monsters crawling on the wall. It baffles me because, while he’s a suitable monster, the wall’s not red. But next I see little Barack Obama monsters replace the others and crawl the wall themselves. I’m even more baffled because I know I’m not racist and because the wall’s not blue.
“Five minutes,” the abyss says. “But don’t count your chickens.”
I see chickens then. They look tasty. I picture myself keeling over at the end of the time, landing with a “thunk” on the floor, and going to sleep.
“Time!” the abyss cries. “Nice knowing you.”
I stand up, creaking.
I feel dizzy, but wobble to the bathroom, groaning.
I sit down on the john, going. And that leaves me staring at the wall opposite.
“You know,” I croak, “that wall could really use a fresh coat of paint.”