Friday, 30 December 2011

Not a New Year Resolution

I don't believe in them.

However, something pretty groovy happened last year.

I'd gone back into the office after the Christmas/New Year break, and was standing in the queue for Starbucks (Starbucks was in my office building, and 30 yards from my desk), and I suddenly decided I needed to give up chocolate bars.

Some background will assist at this point.

Chocolate is my main vice and dietary weakness. Most people who meet me and don't know me assume I drink, and that my belly is the result of beer. But no, I don't take alcohol at all. It's entirely down to chocolate and sweets. And I'm diabetic, so that's not great. Especially as I would often visit the chocolate vending machines at work several times a day.

So, I needed to give up chocolate bars. I had the bars in mind specifically, as there are other chocolate products I was not yet ready to give up, such as brownies and pain au chocolat. Bars would be a good start, though.

But, the problem is, New Years resolutions are rubbish. The problem with them is that you are just making a promise to yourself, so, if you break the promise, all you have to do is forgive yourself, and no harm done. You don't even have to feel guilty, because you are utterly forgiven.

So I hatched a plan. At first, I thought of making a promise to Someone significant, but then I thought, if I failed, I would be letting them down, and I would have the guilt trip, because I wouldn't be able to ask for forgiveness. Not because it wouldn't be given, but because I would be too ashamed to ask. So that road could only lead to failure, guilt and shame. Not a good option.

Realising that the problem was that I am weak-willed ("Will power of a moth", as my brother-in-law says), what I needed was not the rod of promise and commitment, but the gentle caress of helpful assistance.

So, what I did was this: I asked my Guru that every time I saw a chocolate bar, I would be immediately reminded of Him.

This has meant that since that moment of asking, I have not bought (or otherwise procured and consumed) a single chocolate bar. How could I? Every time I see a chocolate bar, my Guru is there, and I can't eat chocolate in front of my Guru!

The strength and success of this is a little scary.

The reason it is strong is that it depends not on me and my will-power in the slightest. I have done nothing. I don't have to remember my Guru whenever I see chocolate. This is the amazing thing about having such a beautiful Guru: I genuinely asked for his assistance in an important matter, and by His Grace, he has helped me at every moment of my need. I don't need to remember my Guru: the memory of Him just comes to me whenever I see chocolate. And then I don't have to struggle to avoid the chocolate, because it would make me feel so small, ungrateful and plain stupid to eat it despite Him. With His face in my mind, I cannot even think about buying or eating the chocolate.

The reason it is scary is that I feel like I have been handed a useful but dangerous power tool. That doesn't express it properly, but it's the closest I can get: If this way of doing things can cut off chocolate bars so easily and so utterly, then what else might be achieved? What other parts of me might be easily and painlessly removed? What if I am not ready to lose those things?

I'm not doing, but suppose I asked my Guru to help me eat a completely yogic diet?

I have no doubt it would happen.

But I'm not sure I'm ready for that. In fact, I'm quite ure I'm not ready for it! I like bacon sandwiches, and a I like beef curry. I eat meat several times a week. I eat other chocolate products, and other sweets and biscuits. I visit restaurants - good restaurants with Michelin stars, and I enjoy it all.

So, having gone a full year with this support from my Guru, I feel that it is time to extend the parameters a little, and although this happens to fall around New Year, it is not a New Years resolution.

But what to do, and how far to go?

I'm getting close to a decision. It's not about what I think I can manage, it's about what I think I'm ready to do without. When I manage to articulate what I feel the next step is, I will ask my Guru for His further assistance. And then I'll let you know how it goes this time next year.