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Going Somewhere?

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Monday, February 19, 2018

I keep reading that weight loss is a journey. The path has ups and downs, I'm told. If I detour, I should just get back on track. As long as I keep going, I'll reach my destination. Okay, thank you. I get it.

This metaphor, with its focus on the process, is flawed in that it's insufficient—and in its very insufficiency it becomes profoundly uninspiring. Who wants to go on a long and challenging walk that's all about the mechanics of getting from A to B? No wonder we so often groan inwardly at the thought of losing weight. No wonder we constantly prowl to bolster our motivation and resolve. And honestly, no wonder we're all looking for some buddies to journey alongside us!

A metaphor of wandering alone along a path emphasizes what we're doing, whereas what's ultimately most important on a weight loss trek is who we're BECOMING as we mosey along. The inward journey, not just the outward journey. Or perhaps more accurately, the inward transformation that the outward journey enables.

Did you know that scientists only recently figured out how flowers generate the forces they need to bloom? Certain parts of the flower begin to grow faster. The excess growth causes strain, creating what physicists call "instabilities," and the bloom emerges from the instability. Some, like the Venus flytrap, snap open. Others, like the lily, blossom slowly over days.

As I walk this weight loss road, I don't want to focus on what's coming around the bend or how many ups and downs there may be. Goodness knows, I'm in for a shwack of them! I'd rather ponder, en route, how to create excess growth. How can I—how can we—shake up the status quo with instabilities of our own? When the scale hasn't moved, how can we smile anyway, knowing that deep within we are generating the forces we need to bloom? How can we surprise even ourselves with a great Venus snap every now and then?

To take from Wordsworth, let us not be simply the lonely wanderers. Let us be, instead, the sprightly daffodils.

Here's the poem for reference:

I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud—William Wordsworth

I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o'er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle on the milky way,
They stretched in never-ending line
Along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.

The waves beside them danced; but they
Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:
A poet could not but be gay,
In such a jocund company:
I gazed—and gazed—but little thought
What wealth the show to me had brought:

For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.
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