About a week ago, I stopped eating sugar, flour, and processed foods. The day after I started the cleanse, I was a wreck. I felt like I had a really shitty flu. That lasted for a couple of days, and then, I started to feel stronger, clearer, more centered and energetic and whole. Shockingly, I started sleeping. (I have been an insomniac my whole life.)
I woke up this morning and had a cantaloupe and berries for breakfast. I was stunned at how amazing those things tasted. It was as if someone had woken up my taste buds, after a decades long sleep. It was as if I were borrowing someone else’s mouth. Now that I am not constantly saturating my body with fake food full of quantities of sugar and fat and salt that never occur naturally in the physical world, my taste buds are returning to their natural state. It had been so long since I’d tasted food like that. Really tasted it.
It got me thinking about the ways in which we live in our modern world. Greedy corporations have studied the human body and mind, with the intent of saturating us with all the things that we are hardwired to want. We are hardwired to want fat and carbs and sugar because they occur so rarely in nature. For most of human history, stumbling upon any of these things would be like winning the nutritional lottery. Our bodies could use the jolt of energy they got from these rare finds to keep themselves running for a long time.
So corporate America used our biology against us, pumped us full of manufactured shit designed to trigger those centers in our brains that said, “Yes, you just won the nutritional lottery! Eat more!” We won the nutritional lottery every second of every day, only these manufactured things we were driven to eat had none of the positive qualities of fatty, sugary, carb-y foods that occur in nature. Corporations didn’t care about actual nutrition. They cared about stimulating ancient centers in our brains so that we would buy more, more, more. If we died as a result of their tinkering, so be it. And we got sick, and fat, and half-dead, walking around our mazes like lab rats, pushing buttons to get more, more, more.
We are hardwired to get a dopamine jolt from connecting from other human beings, so now, we can get constant likes on social media. Another like. Please. Another like. We can’t connect to real human beings when they are in front of us because we are watching our phones, waiting for that dopamine hit.
We are hardwired to want sex, because our souls need to connect, and our bodies need to reproduce. So we have all the increasingly bizarre porn we could ever want at our fingertips, 24/7. More, more, more. Give us more. No true intimacy, mind you. No human connection. Just a dopamine hit. Just a drug. Never mind that this 24/7 sexual smorgasborg never could have occurred in nature, and it is probably doing terrible, destructive things to your natural human brain. No matter that your erotic senses shut down, the way my taste buds did. No matter that when you have an actual living being in front of you, it does little for your overstimulated brain, who never in all of history could have seen so many naked people doing so many intimate things and now isn’t particularly impressed with one naked person who wants to love.
We are hardwired to love stories, the connection we felt sitting around the campfire, sharing our insights, our myths, our lives. So now, we can Netflix binge on stories 24/7 if we want. Increasingly brutal and hyper-sexualized stories, because like my taste buds lost their ability to discern the taste of cantaloupe, our brains need increasingly intense and bizarre stimulation to produce the rushes we used to get from hearing simple stories.
We are constantly stimulated and placated and saturated. But something is missing from all of this. Humanity. I don’t know if I am just a hypersensitive person, but I came to a place where I felt like if I didn’t find actual meaning, actual love, actual connection, actual self, I was going to die. That was when I started living on the road, letting go of possessions, socially constructed ways of being that had nothing to do with who I really was, lies I had told myself about myself.
It took me so long to sift through the lies to find truth. As I was traveling, I came to realize that so much of what I was doing had nothing to do with me, my humanity, what I was really created to be. The way I was eating, the way I was drinking, the way I was handling my sexuality, the way I was handling my social life, the entire way I was living had more to do with me being some kind of a lab rat pressing a button again and again, wanting another rush, another fix, than it did with being authentically human, authentically connecting to my world, my life, my heart, other human beings, other non-human beings.
People always ask me where I’ve been, why I don’t go out anymore, why I’m not as much fun as I used to be. The answer is, I’m learning to be human again. I’m learning to exist in the reality around me instead of my head, or worse, in the constant stimulation provided by the modern media machine. I’m treating my body like the temple it is. Not as some act of repression, but as an act of pure self-love.
I rarely drink anymore. When I do, I do it mindfully. How about one glass of wine you really taste instead of ten you throw up the next day?
I work out daily, and the whole time I do it, I tell myself, “I’m giving you this time as an act of love. I love you enough to honor you.”
I’ve stopped taking all medications, not because I “should,” but because I don’t need it anymore. I don’t need anti-anxiety meds. I don’t need anti-depressants. I don’t need pain medications. My body and mind (they are irreversibly and gloriously intertwined—don’t let anyone tell you differently) are really and truly healing.
I’ve stopped having sex because the way I was handling sex and relationships was incredibly destructive. I stopped taking unhealthy, empty sex into my being the same way I stopped taking bad food. I want the real thing. I want love, and the miraculous, delicious, life-altering sexual connection that grows from that. Someday, I want to experience sex with the person I love with all my taste buds woken up, because I’ve stopped saturating them in mass produced, meaningless shit. And until then, I am experiencing the connection I was looking for (and never found) in sex everywhere. I feel truly connected to myself, to my life, to nature, to my loved ones.
More and more, I make quiet time for myself, despite the fact that technology is always, always clutching at us. At first, when I went to sit alone in the woods with no media devices, no music, no ability to connect to anything but the world around me, I felt panicky, like I should do something else. Wasn’t there a to-do list that needed checking off? Wasn’t there a message I needed to reply to? Weren’t my friends posting interesting things on Facebook? Wasn’t I hungry? Didn’t I need a drink? But as I sat with myself night after night, that passed.
Now I love the hours I spend each night sitting alone in the woods, looking up at the stars. I can sit there all night and never get bored, listening to the voice of the wind, watching the intricate branches wave overhead, feeling the connectedness of all things. It is more of a rush than any manufactured stimulation I ever experienced.
And even though they aren’t physically with me, or hitting me up on Facebook, or texting me, I connect, truly connect, to the hearts of those I love, and they feel more present with me than they do when we are messaging each other, or texting, or liking each other’s Facebook updates. I am learning that love is a force that doesn’t need constant physical reinforcement. That love exists even in the moments we are separate from our beloveds. That we were all connected 24/7 long before social media came along. The more time I take to just be present in what is, the more whole, human, and truly centered/peaceful I feel.
Yesterday, an entire herd of deer came to visit us here on our mountain. My mom called for me, and when I came running, she pointed to the cluster of deer outside the window, snacking on trees. We stood in awe, staring, not believing the miracle of them. Afterward, I walked over to my brother’s, and impossibly, a buck was standing outside his door. When I went to sit on the rock I have claimed as “mine,” (where I meditate as often as I can), there was a deer standing near it, watching for me, seemingly waiting for and welcoming me.
These deer. These beautiful, miraculous deer. Where did they come from? How did I get so lucky? Watching them be, and then watching the sun set over the mountain that was my first home, and then looking up at the bowl of stars overhead, I said, out loud, “I am the richest woman in the world.” They mean more to me than any party, any sex, any number of likes on Facebook, even any publishing contract, ever did. I wonder if they would have five years ago. I wonder if I would have been too busy looking for my next social fix, my next “romance” (I use that term loosely), my next dopamine hit, to be awestruck by a bunch of deer. I wonder if all of me is waking up, the way my taste buds seemed to have woken up this morning. I wonder if the whole world is a pile of cantaloupe and berries, and I was too busy drowning myself in Cheese Puffs to even notice it existed at all.