Thursday, November 30, 2023

Hopeful Thinking - Saturday, December 24, 2022 - Honoring the Temple

I’ve been working very hard on my “before” photo. I’m a bit zaftig. Saying I have a “dad bod” would be a slight exaggeration of fitness at the moment. So it’s time to make a change. 

Approaching my mid-50s has been increasingly about taking responsibility for the past and future. There’s a fair share of regret. But even more, gratitude. Glad to still be here. But I find myself recognizing that the choices I make right now, at this particular stage of my life, will set the tone for the rest of it. How do I want these next decades to unfold?

At first, this past autumn, when I decided to take my own waistline a bit more seriously, I thought of it in terms of dieting. Even while knowing full well that the worst kind of health decision one can make is to “go on a diet.” It’s been long demonstrated that diets, per se, may cause us to lose weight, but they don’t work to the benefit of our bodies or our self-image. They make them both less healthy.

So, wanting to avoid the pitfalls of being “on a diet” I went deeper. I don’t diet easily anyway. I want it to be easier, clearer, motivated. I want to want to do what I must to live a healthier lifestyle. That’s not a typo. I don’t want to, but I want to want to.

In my mind this is the fuel in the tank of any undertaking; the wanting to do something. It’s the wanting that matters. It's the wanting-it-enough that gets us through the temptation. If you’re trying to motivate yourself, think about generating some desire, some wanting. What can you think of that will make you want it more? But a warning: it matters which fuel you choose. Motivating yourself to “get thin” so that you can “be happier” is the equivalent of trying to run your car on celery juice. Being thin doesn’t make you happy. Especially if your body is starving and your emotional state values only a size 2. 

I have decided that my fuel is going to be joy. Sadly, society discounts the need for and value of joy. Both as an experience, but also as a motivator. I want a joyful life. Which means I need to be mindful of the health of all my environments. I need to be mobile, agile, unencumbered. I need to be an instrument in good enough condition that a song of joy can be well played on it. 

That takes care and attention and motivation. It also takes a temple mentality to achieve.

That’s the second part of how I’m choosing to approach a joyful set of remaining decades. I’m going to think of my life in terms of a succession of temples, both literal and symbolic.

A temple is a sacred space designated for a heightened experience with something larger than ourselves. They are designed and constructed with deep intentionality. Using the best materials available. Angled in the direction of the sacred. Sized with community in mind. They are spaces of sacred hospitality, gathering, and worship.

What we bring into the temple is important. We bring our best offerings. Polished and presented with honor and care. We pray over what we bring into them and then hand them over to a higher power. 

That is how we might consider reframing all aspects of our lives if we intend to derive the most joy possible from them. A temple mindset.

It’s pretty clear what that means for our bodies; not only what we choose to put in them, but also what we do with them. If your body is truly sacred—and most theology considers the human body to be a direct creation of the divine—how does it deserve to be treated? What considerations should be made for the proper upkeep and sacred use of a temple? Do that to you.

And our families, our home life, our work, even our aspirations. Is there room to consider these as potential sacred spaces as well? What if we did? What do we bring to these? Do we bring drama? Head colds? Or do we bring joy to them? What if we did?

What if, instead of dieting, we adopted a temple mindset? What if we considered doing anything we can think of to honor the temple by caring for it and bringing it joy? 

Would that hopefully make fast food a little less appealing to me? God, I hope so. Because that’s what I’m hoping for. I want to nullify temptation by superseding it with a deep desire for joy. I don’t want to judge what my naturally healthy body ends up looking like. I just want to have one. I don’t want to equate a number on the scale with a sense of accomplishment. That is false fuel.

If every cell in my body is aligned with joy, as every brick in the temple should be, my faith tells me all shall be well. Remember to honor all temples and bring joy to their altars. Then the Universe will know exactly how to respond. There is more to be discussed here. The conversation will continue...

No comments:

Post a Comment