Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Finding Happiness

Gaelic Football Champs, Cork
The rest of the weekend was a typical up and down affair for me personally. One minute I am at an Irish friend's apartment watching Cork win the All-Ireland for the first time in 20 years (when I was my goal weight), while being force-fed the full Irish breakfast, plus bloody mary, and the next I am in a high-end baby clothes shop (my college pal has a 1 year old, and another on the way) called Bundle chatting with the lovely owner about a children's book I want to write that she'd sell for me.

Then we walked down Mulberry Street in Little Italy where the San Gennaro Festival was going on -- blocks and blocks of games and food, but most all of the food was either sausages and peppers, or deep deep fried funnel cakes, zeppole, and, yes, even oreos. Your skin felt oily walking the 8 blocks from Houston St. to Canal St. The smells were literally repulsive. With all the wonderful traditional food of Italy, the festival resorts to the cheapest, most disgusting food. Even a local NYC newspaper wrote a caption under a photo of San Gennaro, "Patron saint of Naples, San Gennaro casts his eyes heavenward, in despair over the preponderance of fried food at his festival." A sad state of affairs.

It was a see saw weekend for me, but I began to really understand that next step in my journey. I have made so many terrific changes to my diet, and exercise regime. I am so much more educated about healthy eating, and happily evangelize about it to family, friends, and colleagues. I have taken on new healthy challenges in my life...turning this blog into a book, finishing an unrelated screenplay, writing a children's book, and taking an art class. But, since I went from 100% vegan and 100% no drinking to a modification of that, I have tripped, stumbled and fell at times. And I could not figure out why. I had the motivation, and the self discipline, so why would I lapse, particularly with the crowd I hang out with?

I finally figured it out on the last day of my college friend's visit. I am helping him with his company, and set up a meeting with another friend of mine opening up the doors to a major telecommunications corporation. My buddy is excellent in his field, and it is amazing that he can go from immature college pal wanting to visit every bar in NYC, to brilliant marketing strategist in a meeting. Now, we all can go from being goofy to being serious in a matter of seconds, of course. But, I began to think how if the girls from Skidmore College who we met at the beer garden, the owner of Bundle, and my friend from the telecommunications company were to ever talk, they would be speaking about three totally different people. I don't mean funny guy, versus serious guy since we all fall into that category, but I mean wildly obnoxious crazy man without an ounce of maturity versus a loving father picking out clothes for his son, to a sober, serious, brilliant marketing expert. As I wondered why my pal was like that, I very quickly turned it around and wondered why I was like that too. Why do I turn into a chameleon when I am with an old college buddy and live the life of a 20 year old? The sad answer is that I am just looking for total, care free happiness sometimes. Do I go to the gym, or do I play with my buddy and laugh until my side aches? To speak candidly, I assess all the avenues in my personal life and because they are not all stellar (and who's is?) I chose to seek nothing but fun at times, and that leads to bad health decisions. I am not going to change my friends, but do I have the guts to redefine what I consider "fun?" I think I do.

As I ate lunch with my pal yesterday we had a terrific conversation about our lives and where we were in college, and where we are now, and it was clear that we had just as much fun without a beer in hand, as we did with, so why is that always the fall back position? Because that was fun when we first met in college. Fun needed to be redefined.

Finally, my friend drinks way, way too much, but what I scolded him about was the amount of salt he puts on everything. He may be four drinks in during lunch, but I chose to say, "You're gonna kill yourself with all that salt!" Why did I focus on the salt, and not the booze? Because booze is supposed to equal fun! It's a pathetic thing to admit.

We ended the conversation with him telling me the story about two guys I know -- one fell off the wagon after a year, busted up a hotel room in South Africa, then disappeared for a week in London, and ended with a restraining order and a private security guard at his wife's house, and the other had a terrific job in Hollywood and let cocaine ruin him to the point that he was last seen covered in dirt from days of living on the streets and trying to use a receipt as an ATM card. Two sad stories that makes us feel thankful for responsible ways, but in reality, how big of a gulf is there between such addictive behavior?

Just because you are not 200 lbs over weight does not mean you don't have a serious weight problem, and just because you are not living on the streets that does not mean that you don't have a destructive addiction to food or drink.

I sat in silence for a while, drank my water and said to myself, "My God this is delicious!" Time to redefine "fun."

1 comment:

Vegan Epicurean said...

Men aren't the only ones that can snap between maturity and immaturity, but women tned to do those sort of things in smaller circles. ;-)

The food at the Italian festival sounds sad, and unhealthy. That is not how they eat in Italy, not even close.

I found moderation to be much harder than 100%. The only way I can do moderation is a few bites here or there, and no more. The vino on the other hand is something I just have to stay away from. There is no such thing as me and wine moderation. ;-)