An old hippy seeker once told me that after investigating all religions and beliefs, he came to the conclusion that life is about the daily struggle within ourselves to conquer our temptations: i.e. to let our better natures overcome our baser instincts... Since I was too lazy and pre-occupied to check it out myself, I accepted his conclusion and tried to live by it.
On a recent flight back from Moscow, my 40-something, handsome neighbor in business class introduced himself as a physician from Atlanta who specializes in Geriatrics! What? I'm at the age where doctors replaced rock stars as object of desire, since I never get enough time with them to answer my growing list of age-related questions. So to sit next to this highly specialized doctor, who is trapped in his seat for 10 hours with no escape route, was like winning the lottery. I was hoping for decisive tips on how to stay healthy and happy. This was going to be good!
While we were chatting, the stewardess came around and offered champagne. To my surprise he accepted. Hasn't he heard that alcohol is too dehydrating? And isn't champagne way too sweet? I declined and opted for water instead. Hold the ice, please.
Another stewardess came around a bit later and asked for our entree choices. The good physician surprisingly chose beef, but I asked for a vegetable soup since everybody knows that red meat is bad for you. In addition, he asked for red wine to go with the beef while I was steadfast about the virtue of hydrating water.
I was a little envious when he put butter on the bread while I ate mine dry. I mentioned the subject of cholesterol, but he figured we live in a time when there is a pill for it, so what's the point of depriving oneself of delicious butter?
To make that point even clearer, for dessert he chose a big ice cream Sundae with all the trimmings, while I ate a small plate of sliced kiwi fruit.
When dinner was over, he turned off the light and went to sleep peacefully for a couple of hours. Not a worry in the world. I stayed awake since somebody has to keep an eye on the pilot.
When he woke up, I offered him some of my water but he politely declined and ordered a Cola. For a snack, he chose a plate of ripe, yellow cheeses plus grapes to go with his desert wine. Well, cheese has too much fat and grapes are pure sugar, so I further refrained and asked for more sour-tasting kiwi, please. At that point I was on my fourth bottle of water, feeling quite virtuous and secretly waiting to see when he'll start feeling the repercussions of his reckless eating habits.
But then, I started to experience a massive headache. While debating if taking a pain killer in high altitude will constitute drug abuse and confused about what went wrong, I asked the physician if he is also experiencing pain, but he exclaimed that he feels wonderful. And indeed he looked fulfilled, refreshed and relaxed.
As the crushing headache became insufferable, it dawned on me that the continued struggle to conquer temptation is too stressful for our system... Have you noticed that the meat and whole dairy eaters have a rosy complexion and a wide smile, while tofu munchers have a tendency toward sallow skin and sour expression? And isn't a convivial dinner with wine and laughter way better for us than room-temperature water and gluten-free Kashi?
Struggle, Schmuggle was my conclusion. What we have here is some medieval notion that got out of hand, perpetuated for centuries by shrewd exploiters of feeble human nature. The last thing God wants, I was now convinced, is to listen day and night to all those frustrated souls praying and begging for more fun in their life. Happiness, I realized from the good doctor, was to leave struggle behind and eat and drink and be merry for the short time we are here. And if I ever run into that old hippy bullshit prophet again, I will spit right into his hummus plate while he is practicing his sun salutation...
As for the rest of you who are still unsure about why we are here and what's our purpose in life... if you hurry, as seats are selling fast.. you can get all the answers in my seminar: STRUGGLE, SCHMUGGLE, THE ROAD TO TRUE ENLIGHTMENT IN THE 21 CENTURY. But cash only, please.