These past few months, I've been learning more about how to accept life and it's balance. At age 17, I used my emotional logic to make the decision to not ingest any animal products. I thought it was wonderful that I could be healthy and not have to harm any animals in the process (I was also, most of the time, soy- and wheat-free to avoid the health disasters, as well as the unintentional murder from combines). Although, it turns out, I could not be healthy while avoiding animal foods. The food I was eating wasn't working for me, yet I ignored it, because I honestly felt that one could be healthy abstaining from animal foods.
I read a quote that really struck me, and was a major part of pushing me towards the idea of eating animals again(and wouldn't you know, I can't find it again! I read so many books about paleo/primal eating, I've forgotten which it was in.). It was a quote about how eating meat was an "adult knowledge". As a young adult going through the process of "growing up", I've learned it's not just about "getting older". I noticed that people talk to me differently than when I was a kid, others around you get older, and perhaps sicker, and you tend to experience loss more than as a child. My parents never used to talk to me about serious family issues, and now they do. Other family members used to hide their emotions from me, and I would view them as a sort of super hero, whereas as an adult, I've seen my grandmother cry more than I ever did my entire childhood. As you grow up, you see that life is a balance. There is bad for the good, and there is death for the life.
This past week, I lost my grandfather. I take comfort in the fact that I come from him, so he will always be a part of me, yet it isn't the same. The child in me yearns for the years past when he was healthy. His decline happened so rapidly, due to alcohol mostly, I feel that in my teen years, I didn't appreciate him as much as I did as a child, as I did as an adult now, watching him fade away. I was almost angry and upset with him when I was a teen because of his alcohol abuse, and it makes me sad now, but there's nothing I can do to change how it was. Although, perhaps I was so upset because I knew that if he kept drinking that way, he would only get sicker, and it would eventually take him?
Being an adult is strange because you have never been an adult before. Being an adult means you accept life for what it is. You cannot be nourished if something else does not die. Even something as "simple" as a plant, seems to cry out when it is being cut. You, yourself, cannot live forever. Your parents will not live forever. There will come a time when everyone you love will not be here any longer. But isn't that what makes life so special, and so precious? The life of an animal is indeed precious, but doesn't it become even more so when it's being used to nourish a family? After all, is a lioness thinking about the loss of a gazelle family, or the fact that if she doesn't catch one, her family might not survive? Death isn't pretty, but it is a part of our lives.
On the eve of my grandfather's passing, I was alone, outside, sitting by a bed of rocks in my own thoughts. My family was together, but I was very upset and wanted to be alone so I could think. I was having trouble focusing, due to my emotional instabilities, and so I began stacking cairns. The rock bed was more of a pebble bed, and trying to balance the teeny rocks really helped me focus. As I stacked, I had to be very careful to not make it topple over. It was interesting because although the rocks weren't necessarily all flat, they still stacked together and would stay until I(accidentally) knocked them down. I thought about life's balances; what goes up must come back down, as well as the other black-and-whites: life, death, good bad. It was comforting to build them and sort of focus my thoughts together, I really enjoyed it. I built about 5 stacks before I felt better and went inside to be with my family again.
Nobody ever said that growing up would be easy, but I never thought it would be so profound. I've experienced loss before, but being an adult and losing my grandfather was very different than my other losses. When I lost my maternal grandmother at age 17, it didn't really hit me until I was older. Now, I think back on that time and scold myself that I didn't do more to be close to her, or that I hardly cried when she died. It upset me, but I didn't feel the full effect of her death until I became an adult.
Maybe it's when you get older and start feeling the effects of age that you being to realize the balances of life. While death is inevitable, there are ways to live that make the journey there not as painful. My poor grandparents were in a lot of pain up until their deaths, mostly due to illnesses that can be prevented. It hurts to say that, but it is the truth. Most cases of diabetes can be avoided through diet, and it certainly isn't incredibly difficult to not be an alcoholic. And while it is very sad for me to have lost them this way, it is a motivator for me to live a healthy life. I don't want my children and grandchildren to watch me suffer when I'm older. I want to live a long, fulfilling life. My mother says she doesn't want to live to be 90 and not be able to see, or hear, or do anything on her own, but it doesn't have to be that way. There are people who are well and able into their 90s. There are people who's bodies don't break down at 60 and get worse as the years pass. My best friend's grandfather was diagnosed with cancer before my grandfather was and now his cancer is getting smaller, whereas my grandfather's took him. What is the difference? Her grandfather lives his life eating mostly whole and healthy foods. My grandfather drank excess amounts of alcohol each day, whereas hers didn't and doesn't.
There are ways to live a long and healthy life, and it takes the balance of life to help it happen. It takes growing up to realize these truths, then to utilize them. My life's mission is to create a healthy life, and to have healthy children, and to keep them healthy. I'm so relieved to have realized this adult knowledge of life, and now knowing how to use these nourishing food traditions to help me realize my dream.