Molly Katzen’s cookbook The Enchanted Broccoli Forrest started it all. As a newly minted vegan, I bought the cookbook to learn how to feed myself. While the recipes were helpful, the cookbook helped me understand the healing power of food and experience the joy of cooking.
Then came Sally Fallon and her seminal work, Nourishing Traditions. After that came Blue Zones by Dan Buettner. Each of these, part cookbook and part life primer, emphasized the power of food to connect our bodies and our minds; to connect our physical and mental health; to connect us to ourselves and to each other. Each book added to my education and had me redoubling my efforts to stay active, healthy, and connected.
But lately, with each new scientific study and health breakthrough that is released, I find myself falling farther and farther behind, like I am barely keeping my health above water as I try to consistently implement:
the dirty dozen and the clean fifteen
gluten free eating
sympathetic and parasympathetic states
heart rate convergence
lowering my metabolic age
pre and pro biotics for gut health
consistent glucose levels
a positive and supportive friend group
I tried to keep up. I thought I was keeping up. Until yesterday, when I melted down.
I was running out of time trying to get it all in and I was overwhelmed. All I could think of were the words of Henry David Thoreau,
Our life is frittered away by detail. Simplify, simplify, simplify!
But these were all very important details. How was I supposed to simplify them? Is sleep more important than supplements? Is intermittent fasting more beneficial than anti-inflammatory foods? Could I aim for greater efficiency by habit stacking these activities and trying to accomplish several at once? Could I come up with some type of rotation? Were there “nice to haves” that I could drop off the list?
I was spinning. Is it possible to simultaneously have too much of a good thing and miss the proverbial boat? What was I missing?
Though it takes a while, once I get past the details and gain perspective, asking myself the larger questions, invariably the answer becomes obvious. A black swan.
A black swan is an unpredictable event that is beyond what is normally expected of a situation and has potentially severe consequences. Black swan events are characterized by their extreme rarity, severe impact, and the widespread insistence they were obvious in hindsight.
I was absolutely stressing over trying to stay connected and healthy. Oh, the irony. Health became a sole pursuit, a driving obsession in my life, activities to cram in and check off the list. Daily and done. Rinse and repeat. Familiar because I had been here before, simultaneously overdoing and forcing some perceived goodness in my life, all along missing the point of what I was trying to accomplish.
I was doing instead of being. Doing takes focus. Being takes perspective.
Healthy is not simply something to accomplish, but a perspective, a way to be and to live. The health benefits I was trying to achieve were getting lost in the single-minded and obsessive pursuit of a goal. I had done it again—lost perspective and doing instead of being. Note to self —emphasis on again.
So back to where I started, back to The Blue Zones and the Power 9—the lifestyle habits of the world's healthiest, longest-lived people:
√ Move Naturally
√ Down Shift
√ 80% Rule
√ Plant Slant
√ Wine @ 5
√ Right Tribe
√ Loved Ones First
There it was. A healthy way to be.
Doing takes focus. Being takes perspective. Life takes practice.
I’m getting there.