I still own a leather hole punch tool that my grandfather handed down to me. It’s a nice reminder of the time when consumer goods were less disposable and households needed a leather hole punch tool to size leather belts.
I’ve had to use this tool, unfortunately, a few times since my daughter was born, adding a few holes to accommodate my belly’s capacity for late-night takeout. I’m sure there are Chinese food deliverymen in Chelmsford who know my address by heart, but after a long winter and the shame of acquiring a new wardrobe to contain my expanding mass, I had enough. It was time to reverse course.
I adopted a 95 percent plant-based diet and started cooking again. I bought an Instant Pot. I learned how to make chana masala and aloo gobi. Carrots and kale were back on the menu. Both Ben and Jerry were banned from the freezer. My dinner plates began to look more like rainbows than brown oceans of silky cornstarch gloop.
I read about the diets of Buddhist monks who, like me, sit most of the time, but who remain exceptionally healthy into old age. I began researching the lives of centenarians — people who live 100 years or more — and discovered that the secret of longevity, aside from genetics, amounts to consuming less, laughing more and eating beans regularly. My wife is probably sick of the caravan of Mason jars that now crowd our kitchen cabinet, but I’m a convert to the Gospel of the Garbanzo and the one who wears the chef’s apron in our house. We’re all disciples now.
That wasn’t all that changed. I gave up my beloved beer during my wife’s pregnancy, and now only enjoy a stout or two on the rare times when we got out on a date. Along with the trendy lords of the Silicon Valley, I started meditating, using a technique I learned years ago at the Fire Lotus Temple in Brooklyn. Every day at dawn, I creak and crack my bones and shuffle over to a little purple cushion to face the wall as the sun rises, trying to focus on my breath as I mostly just wonder what I’m going to eat for lunch. Still, it does … something.
I cut my hair and shaved my beard. I threw out a closet of black shirts and bought new clothes, with color. And this morning I punched a new hole on my belt on the right side — my clothes were getting too loose.
There is still a lot of work to do. But the air seems somehow cleaner to me, the world slightly friendlier. And so I quietly enter my third year editing mvm, healthier than when I arrived, and eager to enjoy the summer.
Contact Doug at firstname.lastname@example.org