‘…A loaf of bread, a jug of wine, and thou…’
–from The Rubaiyat by Omar Khayyam
In my last blog I wrote about wine and the one before that, bread, so now its time for thou. As in ‘How art thou?’ Really. Before you answer, I want you to reconsider your lifestyle. Yes, really.
That’s what I did. I spelled it out, one letter at a time and before I knew it, I had my very own LIFESTYLE acronym. Sounds silly, I know. But it focused me, very clearly, on the way I live my life and what my real priorities are. This may seem like over thinking it to some, but both of my parents died from lifestyle diseases (Type II diabetes)… so yeah… I do think about it a lot. Maybe you should too. Making your own anagram is way more fun than burdening your brain with more phases like ‘…I should do more blah, blah, blah…’ Really.
Here’s what I came up with…
Let me explain.
Love. I’m talking about the pure, unconditional love that swells up from your heart and defines your humanity. The kind of love that speaks no words; holds no thoughts. A limitless love, that gives of itself freely, always and receives appropriately. Real Love. Without it we are nothing.
Intellect. Growing up in the 60s, we were drawn to great thinkers, abstract constructionists, poets and philosophers, explorers of inner and outer space. Today an endless stream of pimps, rappers, sluts and studs are paraded before us as heroes. What happen to us? Watching TV will slow you down and dumb you down. It will zap your natural, intellectual curiosity by telling you everything… all the time. No thinking required. Intellect is uniquely human trait; nurture it and it will reward you. I shut off my TV five years ago and haven’t looked back. (Okay, okay… I confess to watching The Daily Show on Hulu!)
Food. Everything in my life revolves around food. I like it fresh, homemade and healthy. I like it perfectly cooked, creatively prepared and artfully presented. I allow myself the luxury of time…savoring and chewing…chewing really well…at every meal. Feeling well and looking well begins with eating well. For me that means no processed foods. Forget the freezer, the jar and the can. Cook it fresh. Cook it right. Cook it now.
Energy. This is a big one. I am not talking exclusively about the kind of energy that helps us get things done, although that’s part of it. But it’s more about the energy that flows from our first Chakra, up through our spine, into our brain and back down through our throat, heart, arms, fingers, hara, sex organs, legs and toes. This is the energy of healing. When it flows, we are gods and goddesses, we become pure spirit and good things happen. I use a guided meditation that unites breath and awareness in my energy centers. It’s loaded onto my iPod and programmed to not play in Shuffle mode. Anytime I’m feeling stressed… overwhelmed… tired… bitchy… I can stop and listen. Twenty minutes later life is effortless again.
Sex. Everybody’s doing it, even our pets and our parents. (Sorry!) But we humans from Earth have options that other species don’t. We can do it well, very well, if we want. My level of eroticism is crucially linked to diet, exercise, sleep and remaining deeply in love. A little supplemental L-Arginine and zinc helps too. Oysters, anyone? And if you’re a man-of-a-certain-age, you should know that your testosterone levels peak after a good night’s sleep, then decline all day long. So that morning quickie may be your ticket to smile-town. Hint: keep a box of breath mints on your nightstand.
Truth. No one said it better than John Lennon.
‘I’m sick and tired of hearing things from uptight, shortsighted, narrow-minded hypocritics…All I want is the truth… Just gimme’ some truth…’
Where does the modern truth-seeker turn? Inward, because there is so little truth ‘out there.’ From lying politicians with their dog-and-pony show antics to disgraced clergymen to the guy in the next cubicle, truth is a rare and precious commodity today. Yet it remains a crucial foundation in a life worth living. Ever been involved in a relationship built on lies? I’ll bet it got pretty messy toward the end. I have eliminated all lies… small, white and otherwise… from my life. Only truth-tellers make it to my trusted inner-circle. And most of all, when I look in the mirror, I try not to lie to myself.
Yoga. I can already hear you gym rats moaning. And you’re right, yoga is no replacement for a good cardio workout. But as we approach 40…50… and beyond… it may be the best way to stay flexible and pain-free enough to live a high quality life. If your ticker is ticking… but your wrists and feet are hurting… are you really going to stand over a stove, stirring risotto for 45-minutes? I’m not disciplined enough to do yoga every morning…. but I know, without a doubt, my whole day improves when I do. Truthfully, I need to get on that mat… right now.
Liberty. Have you ever read The Constitution? That’s the kind of liberty I’m talking about. I wish every American would read it. I wish all of our lawmakers and law enforcers would read it. I wish it were broadcast every day from the top of the Empire State Building. Because our forefathers knew what liberty was and did their best to create a document to preserve it… well… that’s if you were a white-male-landholder. Today, renters, women and people of all colors are entitled the same rights of ‘life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.’ But what happen to those guarantees? If you’re gay or Muslim… inked or pierced… or just a little different… you know your liberty is threatened everyday. Flying today? You’re a prisoner of the TSA. On a bus? Open that backpack, dude! Want a graceful, doctor-assisted ending? Call the cops!
The Constitution is now in a museum in Philadelphia. And just like fine art, when it moves from the streets, from the studios, from the places where real people gather, share and create and moves into granite fortresses, it becomes irrelevant to the moment. But I have a copy of The Constitution on my bookshelf. And I use it as a guide as I pursue my personal liberty and happiness con gusto. Time and time again my lifestyle decisions have trumped my career decisions. I’m a better, though poorer, man for it.
Everyone. I don’t want to skip down this crazy road alone. I want you there! And you! And you! And everyone! Everywhere! With love in our hearts we can bust through any barrier, overcome any pain and reach our full human potential. Can you imagine… millions of us living free? I can.
So there you have, LIFESTYLE: The Word Game.
So tell me now, how art thou? What’s your lifestyle anagram? Write it out. Post it here. Really.