Sunday, December 26, 2010
Big Freaking Deal
I think I'm fat. That's not a criticism or a put-down. It is, however, a statement of fact. An observation, if you will. When I look in the mirror, I see a fat girl. The truth is that no matter how many pounds I weigh, no matter what size may be printed on the tag inside my jeans, I always see a fat girl when I look into the mirror. My weight tends to yo-yo along with my eating habits. When I'm on a strictly vegetarian, mostly healthy (I try not to deprive myself of the things I strongly crave) eating pattern, I lose weight. I feel better and have more energy, so I exercise. I get out of the house and get lots of fresh air. I can fit the clothes that I want to fit and shopping is rarely a problem because I almost always find my size. And when I look into a mirror, I see a fat girl.
When I think to myself, "Well, some vegetarians eat chicken, right?" all in an effort to talk myself into eating a fried chicken wing or three, that usually leads to the consumption of some processed snack cake laden with high fructose corn syrup, various food dyes, and artificial preservatives. But no hydrogenated oils because, for goodness sake, I'm not trying to kill myself. After the snack cakes comes the fries and the chips and the I-don't-have-the-energy-to-cook-let's-just-go-to-McDonald's. I gain back the 15 pounds I lost and lose all the progress and energy I gained. And when I look into the mirror, I see a fat girl.
We're two paragraphs into this post, so by now you're probably thinking it's about my or women's or people's struggle with weight loss, discipline, and/or willpower. Sorry to disappoint those who wanted to join me at a pity party, but it's not.
I said all that to say, who cares? Why does it matter that I see a fat girl every time I look in the mirror regardless of my size? Why does it matter what I look like at all? That person in the mirror, fat or not, is not who I am. That reflection does not reflect the true me: the person that I am on the inside. The being that is important and powerful beyond her own understanding.
I am much more than the body in which I reside.
We all have heard the saying, "Don't sweat the small stuff." Usually when someone says this, they're trying to get you to realize that little issues or obstacles are just that in the grand scheme of things...little. That means that in ten minutes, hours, days, years from now, those "little" things will not even be a blip on your radar, so there's no reason to give them so much power and energy. Your attention is best left to focus on the "big" things.
What exactly are these "big" things? Family? Success? Fame? Fortune? Yes, those are all big things, but they're not the big thing. There's only one big thing that matters. It matters so much that how you treat it affects how all the other big things come into play. It's so important that it impacts your marriage or other intimate partnership. It's so strong that it can make or break your relationships with your children, siblings, friends and parents. It's compelling enough that it determines your ultimate success or failure. It is so infinite that it influences the whole world.
It's you. You are the big thing. I'm not speaking of your physical size. I'm talking about your presence, your power, the force within the physical being that towers above all things, big or small. You bring about your success! You raise happy, healthy, well-adjusted children! You determine the path that your life will take, and in doing so, unfold countless other paths before you.
Don't believe you're mighty enough to influence the whole world? Consider this:
You are depressed and angry as a result of having repeatedly tried and failed at something you really love doing. Your mood affects the way you treat your family; you yell at them all the time and beat them physically. Your children's spirits are broken and where they were once lively, vibrant little people, they are now sullen and afraid. As they grow older and begin to see freedom from your wrath in their future, they express interests in things that you don't think are wise. Knowing failure personally, you scoff at your son who wants to be an artist. You forbid him from living his dream and you make him go to a trade school where he can learn skills that will benefit him. He won't have to struggle like you did. You're only looking out for his best interest, but he resents you for it and begins to rebel. He rebels against you and everything you stand for. He even rejects beliefs he actually has just because those are beliefs that you hold yourself.
Then tragedy strikes and you die. Torn between hating you, loving you, and feeling guilty over not having made peace before you died, your son becomes even more rebellious. He gets kicked out of school and is painfully humiliated in the process. He starts to hang around with people who give his anger a voice. They make him feel like hatred is more than okay to express.
With you gone, he can now pursue his dream as an artist, but when he tries to get into art school, they tell him he is not good enough. Down, but not out, he tries his hand at architecture, only to discover that he needs the skills he would have learned had he not been expelled from trade school. He struggles as a painter for years, rejected a second time by art school and ends up homeless. Somewhere in the midst of his angry rebellion, he finds a group of people on whom to unleash his hatred after reading some pamphlets written by an anti-Semite. He begins to blame the Jewish community for many, if not all, of the world's problems.
Shortly thereafter, your son enlists in the army, fights in several wars, and becomes a decorated soldier. After an enemy attack, he is hospitalized for blindness and hysteria. Translation: your son is beginning to lose his mind. In the hospital, he comes to the conclusion that it is his duty to save the world from the Jewish. He is discharged from the army and becomes affiliated with an anti-Semitic political party. He develops into a highly effective speaker for his party, but some of the members find him overbearing and power-hungry. He tenders his resignation from the party, but then realizes that his leaving would cause it to collapse. He demands to be made its leader with unlimited powers. Reluctantly, to avoid the fall of their party, the members give in to his outrageous demands. Under his leadership, millions of people lose their lives just for being who they were born to be.
Unrealistic you say? I beg to differ. That is my abbreviated version of how 17 million people, six million of them Jewish, came to be tortured and killed during the reign of Adolf Hitler. Was the Holocaust his father's fault? Of course not. Hitler made his own decisions and his actions were his own. His father merely spilled the drop of water, that caused the ripple, that caused the wave, that destroyed millions of lives. He was powerful beyond his own understanding. And the whole world was changed because of it.
Yes, I know that I could have just as easily given a positive example of your infinite power, but I thought this one would pack the punch I meant to serve.
I ask you today to know your power. Know your worth. Know that you have the ability to change the world, for better or worse. You are huge; a big freaking deal and it has nothing to do with how many friends you have or the amount of money in your bank account or your physical attributes.
You are more than a man who deems himself a failure. You are so much more than the fat girl in the mirror.
Until next week,
Feed on love; subsist on peace.