Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Day 210: freedom through restriction.

Shall we add another contradiction to my ever-growing list of personality weirdnesses? Here's one: I believe I have discovered a source of personal freedom in what might seem to be its polar opposite - restriction. Recently, as you know, I have taken the leafy and vegetable festooned path of veganism. Despite expectations to the contrary, I have found this highly restrictive diet to be a very easy adjustment and really not painful at all. Indeed, as I've said, I would even go so far as to claim the restrictiveness has actually given me a new sense of freedom. How could this possibly be? Well. I have realised through recent observation, that "regular" eating, while seemingly free, comes with its own set of restrictions - although quite different ones. I have noticed that normal eating and drinking comes with a very special set of can'ts, namely all the things you can't possibly do without. People, for example, can't give up chocolate, can't give up cake, can't give up meat, can't give up cheese and can't give up alcohol. Even if consuming these things might a) contribute to ongoing weight issues and unhappiness with the state of one's body, b) make you ill, c) be bad for the planet, many humans do not feel powerful enough to shake them off. Ironically, the "freedom" to eat whatever, becomes some kind of psychological (or otherwise) addiction, trapping people in other undesirable predicaments. Through my non-drinking, and now veganism, I have realised that I am entirely free to choose what goes in my body; I do not accept the can'ts of others as the necessary can'ts of my own; I am the master of my domain. Hilariously, since this realisation dawned on me today, I have been sent a hail of food freedom tests. In four meetings in a row at work I was offered 1) a chocolate brownie 2) a box of butter shortbread cookies 3) Natural Fruit Co. lollies (delicious things) and 4) wait for it, no less than 20 pizzas accompanied by beer, wine and soda pop. But while in the past "I can't resist pizza" could have spilled easily out of my mouth, today I say "yes I can. I can do anything I bloody well like". So you see, what may have started as a restriction, is actually a freedom. I have opened myself up to the possibility of not eating meat and not drinking alcohol, instead of just blindly accepting that humans cannot live without these things. It's a choice I have given myself, rather than one I have taken away. And if I can apply this thinking to what I eat and drink, surely I can apply it to other things too. What other possibilities have I closed off just through accepting the status quo? If there's one thing people are always saying, it's that you can't be serious about being a rock star. Are there other can'ts like this I am applying to myself? Like you can't have a band without a guitarist and a drummer? Is it actually the case that the things I feel are hampering me, might actually set me free? Maybe it's time I free myself up a little, and start looking at things from the downside up.


  1. Congratulations on your new found freedom. I read your psycho-analysis with interest. It does seem like a balanced theory, underpinned with simple logic. However, are you certain that this seemingly recurrent theme of limiting your ways is finally reached its conclusion? Are you now finally free enough to float to the stars and sing songs of their splendour? I do hope so. Or perhaps peanut-butter will become the new cheese?

  2. Freedom through Restriction is a very Buddhist and also Taoist tent.
    Can you still have coffee? Espresso, with sugar, raw sugar?

  3. that should be "tenet", not "tent", though i'm sure they are very enlightening tents.