Thursday, May 31, 2012


I am a glutton. Last night I consumed an entire half-loaf of bread. I bought a jar of peanut butter a weak ago and it’s almost completely gone. When I was little (last summer), my parents would tell me to “slow down with that ice cream over there” because it wasn’t “going to run away” and it probably isn’t healthy to “inhale your food.”

I still remember the moment my junior year of high school when I realized exactly how much cereal I could consume in one sitting. It was (and is) my habit to eat cereal while reading books, keeping the milk and cereal box close at hand and refilling the bowl until I get to a reasonable stopping point in the novel. It must have been an enthralling book because after a chapter or so I remember picking up the cereal box, which I had newly opened in that sitting, and being shocked to find it almost empty. Perhaps even more memorable is the time I ate half of a pizza when I was in second grade. My babysitter was, I recall, equal parts fascinated and horrified.

Cuties. Unrelated, but dang. Cuties.
Gluttony is most obvious when it comes to food. I love my cookies and my peanut butter and, mysteriously, candy corn[1]. But the pattern of gluttony is everywhere in my life. I binge. This week, because Buddha was born, I didn’t have school on Monday. With the extra time, I thought I would get a little reading done. But once I started my book (The Thief—I’ve read it at least ten times by now), I refused to stop, even for much-needed sleep and even-more-needed study. And then I read its sequel the next day. I hurried through them, my eyes glued to the page so tightly I almost missed my bus stop. I will reread these books two or three times a year I love them so much—but I never can persuade myself to slow down and enjoy them, to wait for the denouement in order to prolong the book’s spell even by a day.

It’s the same hurry I’m in to eat the entire half-loaf of bread in a single evening. After I’ve eaten a reasonable amount, the inner dialogue begins:

“Why are you eating so much? Goodness—this is just excessive.”
“I have to enjoy it now because—because...”
“Because it’s good. No, that doesn’t make sense, but yes, I understand. But think about this: won’t it be as good tomorrow? Maybe it will be even better because you’ll be hungry again? And you’ll be looking forward to it all day, too.”
“Yes, I know, but it’s good now.”
And I eat.

It’s gluttony. It’s how I watch T.V. shows, read books, and even how I write.  Wherever I can rush—like a mouse sprinting through the maze for the promised cheese—I do. It’s how I live: as though pleasure in and of itself is a valid end.

The Greeks had this big thing about “everything in moderation,” and if I’m honest, I see positive results in my life when I follow this philosophy. Balance is key in time management. As per Ecclesiastes, there is a time for everything under the sun: working and relaxing, talking and silence, movement and stillness. Eating and reading and writing.

But the patience for Ecclesiastical wisdom eludes me. I want cookies and I want them now. I want to read The King of Attolia and I want to read it now. I want to play soccer now, to sleep now, to fight, to speak, to hide, to feel better now.
Moments like this.

Acting like a three-year-old is nothing special or profound. We all do it, especially when we’re in pain. How many times have we all echoed David’s psalms with the anguished and more colloquial, “Hurry up, God! Fix it! Don’t you care about me?”

I don’t know why my book gluttony of this weekend got so much air-time in my mind’s radio station. Mostly I think it just reminded me to slow down. It doesn’t matter so much with books, but on a grander scheme that’s a skill I’d like to obtain.[2] I want to be able to slow down evening the maddening moments of life—these times when I’m worried about the future and muddled in the present—I want to slow them down and recognize when I’m “chasing after the wind” and not after God.

I feel like I’m always so hurried and so hungry—hunting after satisfaction and happiness like a glutton, wanting perfection every second of the day. But just like a good book is meant to be enjoyed, like an apple pie is supposed to be eaten a slice at a time—so it is with life. There are moments when I am not eating apple pie (a very unfortunate truth) and books that I read that aren’t particularly good (Eregon, I’m still looking at you). Just because it’s not perfect does not mean it should be rushed—neither should perfection be rushed through. My lesson from God this week has been rehashed from dinnertime admonitions: Don’t inhale life—it’s not going to run away, so slow down and don’t choke yourself.
Comic. A little old (get it?!).

[1] After a handful or so I’m usually grossed out by the taste, but I just can’t stop eating them. The texture is addicting.
[2] Along with that pen-flippy thing that other people were always doing during lectures.

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