You laughed when you saw me standing on the sidewalk in front of Renys eating organic black beans straight from the can. You asked me to come to your house and remove the package of half-eaten vegan cheese from your fridge that I brought to your barbeque or else you threatened to use it to shingle your roof. You knew that when I declared myself a vegan after reading books by Alicia Silverstone, Kris Carr, Peter Singer, Lori Gruen, Jonathan Foer, and Moby, it wouldn’t last. And it didn’t; inspiring writers all, the failure was completely mine. My most recent promise to reboot my karma and remain a vegetarian for one whole year lapsed after about a month. Let’s all agree: my commitments to diets or lifestyle changes or whatever you want to call them has been about as firm as my commitments to quit Facebook and Twitter. Yes, I’m a chronic lapser. Well, here I go again. I watched a documentary on Netflix last night called Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead. It chronicled the journey of an Australian man named Joe Cross, who used a 60-day juice fast to cure his chronic idiopathic urticaria, a painful autoimmune disease. And guess what? It worked. That film, and the time I spent in Woodstock this past weekend, where you can stand in one juice bar, throw a wheatgrass muffin, and practically hit another juice bar, has inspired me to make some changes. I’m thinking of a line from a Mark Eitzel song that goes, “I’m sick of food/so why am I so hungry?” That’s where I am right now; sick of food but hungry for a dietary rebirth. So starting tomorrow, I’m drinking nothing but juice for 30 days. I’ve got my NutriBullet and my Jack Lalanne. My only cheat day will be next weekend when my wife and I go out for one our regular sauna and sushi dates, when we go here and then here. Like Thoreau immersing himself in a bog, I’m going to immerse myself in green juice. Now, for that one last cup of coffee…
A rainy Friday. My last full day here. Woke early, around 6:30 am. Walked into town to Bread Alone for bagel and coffee. Spent about two hours eating and reading Glass Bead Game. Walked back to the Inn and took a drive up to Phoenicia, past Mount Tremper and the Zen Mountain Monastery. Came back to town and walked around. Stopped into Dharmaware to buy a small bodhisattva statue for Mom and Dad. Ate lunch at pizzeria (again!) Then walked back to the Inn for coffee and journal writing. Hoping the rain will clear so I might be able to go for a swim later, or at least tomorrow a.m. A lonely day, so far. Just got some good advice about swimming holes: Seven Waterfalls. And I learned that apparently bears are pretty much harmless. Maybe the sun will come out tomorrow. Did more walking in the afternoon. Bought a bottle of wine and got take-out from Joshua’s: a Middle-Eastern sampler. Watching sports on TV in the p.m. Hoping for sun.
Here is the view from the fire tower at the summit of Overlook Mountain above Woodstock. This hike was probably one of the hardest things I’ve done in my life. But after reflecting on it, I have come to realize the spiritual dimension of what I did. I was all alone that morning. When we reunite with Nature, we are really meeting ourselves, because we are part of Nature, not separate from it. This is a hackneyed saying, but experiencing something like this, or swimming in the mountain streams like I did, really makes you realize how estranged we are from our true selves. All the trappings of society are just false gods. I don’t just mean that our minds or our spirits are part of Nature. It’s our bodies mostly. Everything we are made of was once part of an exploding star. If we believe in evolution, then human life began with the organic materials that were found on our planet millions of year ago. We literally crawled out of the earth. Of course, civilization has its charms, and we all love our cell phones, coffee, and polyester underwear, but at the most basic level, we are star-stuff.
I have been absent lately. Maybe it’s the fact that I can’t tell how many people are reading my feed because WordPress discontinued their feed stats. Maybe it’s because I’ve been away, celebrating my 40th birthday in the woods, hiking and swimming in mountain streams, visiting Tibetan Buddhist monasteries and having run-ins with black bears. Maybe it’s because I’ve been too caught up in my reading (Hesse, Mann) and am living in my own mind, shutting out the outside world. I really can’t say. But here’s a picture of one of the places I swam while I was away, near Woodstock, NY. Enjoy.