What Do a Poet and a Dietary Cleanse Have in Common?
by Soul Places | Diane Ludeking
I started reading Crossing the Unknown Sea – Work as a Pilgrimage of Identity by poet David Whyte last week in order to shed more light on my fears about claiming a vocation. The thought of stepping back out into the working world sends my heart into a free fall and when I reach for the ripcord I find nothing but whistling wind and vanishing faith.
I also decided to start a cleanse on Monday to rid my body of the holidays and any questions I have about using food to depress myself. Coincidentally, David Whyte had a story in his book that resonated so clearly with me:
Whenever we are faced at last with a change for which we have looked for years, we must slip off the habituation of those same years and learn ourselves anew. I remember taking a friend, known for her grand and well-loved addictions, for a Japanese meal. She was amazed by the lightness and cleanliness of the food. “I feel so good,” she said as we left the restaurant, “just as good as I [felt] when I came in. This is so unusual for me with eating,” she said. “I always overdo it.” She went off to bed marveling at how light she felt. The next morning at breakfast, I asked how she had slept, and with a kind of sheepish horror she confessed that she had felt so good getting into bed that she had actually been unable to sleep, as if something still had to be done and she hadn’t quite got to it. She finally went to the pantry and pulled out the biggest, fattest bag of rustling Doritos she could find. Once she had taken them under the covers and consumed the whole lot, she felt normal enough to go to sleep.
Okay, so that story was not coincidentally in front of my eyes at the very time I was struggling with just such an idea. He goes on to explain my struggle:
There is a certain kind of heaviness and insulation we can grow used to. The body can feel strange when it inhabits the world in a lighter way, when it encounters a form of happiness or fulfillment for which it has had no apprenticeship. A lightness and litheness that gives us a sense of ease, movement and potential may bring things that have always been a struggle to us more easily, and scare us to death in the process. It may be that we felt that lightness years ago but failed in what we wanted and now the return of that possibility can be just too overwhelming.
David Whyte has shed much awareness on the subject of failure and enduring healthy life changes for me. My desire for a more healthy body and mind is germane to the task of bringing my unique gifts to the world. Now it is time to act with gentleness and patience as I acclimate to a new way of being in the world.