Bellyache

Niagara Falls w:Skok

Have you ever had the experience of not realizing how much pain you are in until the pain is gone? Being accustomed to frequent pain, specifically back pain, I’ve had this experience a few times. We become so accustomed to pain, especially pain that sneaks up on us as a result of repetitive motion due to daily tasks that must be performed, that often times we don’t even realize we are in pain until the pain is gone. It’s an odd feeling to be without pain when you’ve experienced it consistently for such a long time.

I’m in my late thirties now so I’ve lived a little bit of life. This past week, I packed up all the belongings I could fit in my car, as well as my dog and my sister (who selflessly joined me for the road trip) and drove 3,200 miles, from Northern California to Buffalo, NY (we had a few detours due to weather and wanting to visit family along the way). For most people, this would be acceptable if I were moving for work or something similarly logical. I have moved for work reasons in the past but this time I moved for love. So cheesy, I know, and, I’ll give it to you, kind of crazy as well. Especially since we have only known each other for a year, so not long in the scheme of things, been dating for 4 months and had spent less than 20 (not even full) days together in real life before I moved.

The morning, for me, has always been the time of day when I’m the most honest with myself. When first waking up, honesty is really the only option. It pounces on me without permission, forcing me to look at decisions I’ve made and the true impact they have on me and the people around me.

Since day one of starting to spend time with my beau as something more romantic than friendly, I wake up every morning at peace. This is not a caught-up-in-the-moment, head-over-heels kind of feeling. It is pure peace. With that peaceful feeling came some confusion. I couldn’t quite put my finger on it at first but, after awhile, I realized what was missing; a pit in my stomach. In the past, I had never experienced a romantic relationship without some kind of feeling that it wasn’t right. Always waking up in the morning with that tell tale knot in my stomach and then shoving it down and explaining it away to myself, “It’s just me . . . it’ll get better in time. . .  everyone feels this way . . .” It hasn’t been until now, until that ill feeling has been completely absent, that I am able to see how wrong I was. That feeling may be normal but it doesn’t exist when things are right. When you’ve truly found your person, your whole body is at peace even in those very first, uninhibited moments waking up. Even with knowing that I would be moving across the country, far from family and friends, that feeling of discontentment has never crept up on me upon first waking. I can’t help but, out of habit and past experience, wait for the other shoe to drop but, it seems, sometimes things are just right and it’s okay to accept the peace that comes with pain no longer being present.

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I’m a terrible vegan

I’ve been following a plant-based – alright alright – VEGAN, diet for approximately 6 weeks now. There’s, understandably, quite a bit of a learning curve and I find myself focusing primarily on what and what not to eat. There are a number of reasons to switch to a vegan diet and so many of those reasons come from personal convictions about our place in the world and how we choose to coexist with other living beings, both human and those of other species, i.e. global warming, animal rights, the very basic right to life, etc.

For myself, the most compelling reason involves living in such a way that allows me to live as in tune with my true self as possible. That’s where peace and freedom exist, therefore, that’s where I want to exist as often as I can.

Today, I purchased a new pair of sandals and then wore them around the rest of the day while running errands. While I was waiting in line at one point, it dawned on me that the top part of my sandal might actually be leather. In disbelief at my, possibly, obvious oversight, I pulled out my amazingly small computer (a.k.a. my phone) and started doing some research. To my utter disappointment, my suspicion was confirmed; the belly of an unfortunate animal was unnecessarily used in the making of my sandal strap. A synthetic material would have been just as strong, just as comfortable, just as reliable and without the pain and suffering of another. And this after going out of my way to find a coffee shop that offered a mocha that didn’t contain dairy. Words of defeat escaped my mouth, “I’m a terrible vegan.”

I then started thinking back on other purchases I had made throughout the day. What else had I totally blown it on? I had picked up my first guitar not long before. It seemed safe enough but, after further inspection, I discovered an inlay of abalone – another blow to life and my conscience.

I am a terrible vegan.

I am an imperfect person. . . as we all are.

Like probably almost everyone else on the planet, except maybe the sociopaths, I’ve spent much of my life believing that perfection does exist . . . just not for me. It existed for others who were smarter, more talented, more in tune with existence (and themselves) and better looking than I am. Everyone else seemed to have their shit together but me.

I’ve finally, and with much relief, come to the realization that EVERYONE believes they lack where others thrive but, in reality, none of us have it exactly right and none of us ever will and that’s perfectly alright. You might even say, perfectly imperfect (cheesy but true!).

So, yes, I’m an imperfect person for always and a terrible vegan for right now but part of growing as a person is making mistakes and learning from them. These things stick with you and help you make better decisions going forward. Just because I messed up today, doesn’t mean I’ll keep messing up in the same way for the rest of my life. I will continue to screw things up, there’s no doubt about that, but I will not let a mistake define me. I’ve done that for far too much of my life.

Maybe you look back on your life and wonder how it could have turned out differently. Maybe there are regrets that you live with every day; you dated/married the wrong person, you cheated on your spouse, you didn’t go to college when others did, you didn’t try for the job because you thought you weren’t qualified. Maybe you had children too young or not at all even though having children was something you always imagined for yourself. Maybe you’ve let your health go and are struggling to regain it. Whatever it may be, every passing moment is a chance to turn it all around. So, seize the day, as they say! Grow from mistakes and experiences but don’t let them define you. The only moment that exists is the one you’re in right now. Choose to forgive yourself and start fresh. Choose to embrace the reality of imperfection rather than be held captive by the debilitating  notion that perfection exists for others but not for yourself. We are all the other to someone. Choose to live in the present moment rather than one that can not be reclaimed or edited. Choose love for yourself. Choose life.