Recipes for success, for disaster, for life and death. What will be the recipe of the day today, tomorrow, next week?
Reflecting on my current situation, as well as on other peoples situations, I often wonder what comes as given and what is created or, rather, what is the scope for manoeuvre, the scope for creating outcomes different from those that existing conditions, perhaps conceived as limitations, would seem to render inevitable?
There are many ingredients contributing to the arising of this present moment and the way it is experienced: Individual psychology, level of emotional and spiritual maturity, physical and mental health, diet, immediate surroundings – including both its sentient and non-sentient aspects, underlying geology, climate, plus an almost infinite number of other contributing factors. How do they interact this instant and over time?
Right now, is one factor the defining contributor to the current situation in which I find myself? For the past 33 days I’ve eaten nothing but wild vegan fare. How do I feel? Different, yes; good, no. For the past 16 months I’ve felt the joys but mostly pains and sorrows of unrequited love. How do I feel? Perturbed and contracted as opposed to feeling expansive and joyous, miserable, stuck in an emotional quagmire, wanting to move on but spell bound, drugged and weak?
In July 2007 I carried out a trial run for this year living entirely on foraged wild food. That month was also vegan. Both vegan and, more to the point, a great success. After that month alone the effect on my mental state was profound. Not deep, just profound. ‘Deep’ would imply long-lasting effects of which, unfortunately, there were few. The profundity resided in the degree of change, the qualitative change to vibrant mental clarity, emotional stability and general joy and positivity. In part I think I gained some insight as to why such changes were so short-lived. The reasons involve long-standing habits of mind and behaviour. Bad habits indeed; habits so ingrained to the very core of my being that they lurk unseen, colouring every thought, action, dream and desire with the blackest shade of personal bondage. Can they be undone and if so does the answer lie in extreme behaviour; after all, eating nothing but wild foraged food for an entire year is certainly somewhat extreme? Indeed, whilst believing that extreme situations require extreme solutions, I could, nonetheless, simply be believing this according to the dictates of underlying and dysfunctional patterns. In that case, I live merely to dig a deeper and darker hole from which there is truly no escape. Conundrums! Sisyphus here we come. This fascination with uncovering the most significant contributing factors to the experience of the present moment lies, in part, due to what I consider to be the influence of two factors that, on the face of it, are both extreme and both happening right now: 100 % vegan wild food diet with its unique challenges, stresses and strains, and love in its cruelly unrequited aspect, again with its own unique sorrows , stresses and strains. Everyday now I burst into tears at random moments and am unable to function effectively if at all – in spite of taking even further extreme measures, about which I’ll probably write in a later blog. Today it was Alexander Pope’s poetic Essay on Man that set the tears flowing, touching as it does on themes that have always struck me deeply.
Know then thyself, presume not God to scan;
The proper study of mankind is Man.
Placed on this isthmus of a middle state,
A being darkly wise and rudely great:
With too much knowledge for the Sceptic side,
With too much weakness for the Stoic’s pride,
He hangs between; in doubt to act or rest,
In doubt to deem himself a God or Beast,
In doubt his mind or body to prefer;
Born but to die, and reasoning but to err;
Alike in ignorance, his reason such
Whether he thinks too little or too much:
Chaos of thought and passion, all confused;
Still by himself abused, or disabused;
Created half to rise and half to fall;
Great lord of all things, yet a prey to all;
Sole judge of truth, in endless error hurled:
The glory, jest, and riddle of the world!
Between heaven and earth we reside in the absurdity of being, so wonderfully described here, yet also given astute philosophical expression by Thomas Nagel in one of my favourite books – that offers very little in the way of answers: The View from Nowhere. And yet one (absurd) escape from the absurd ‘between’ is to live at the extremes ? Today’s recipe then is an extreme one taken, perhaps, from an imaginary cook book entitled Last Supper Recipes of the Sorrowful Young Werther
Wild food wise, what else have I been up to apart from picking lots of fairy ring mushrooms?
Of course, the main thing has been trying to eat 3 wild food vegan meals a day. It’s difficult. The challenges are made clear by nutritionist Simone Food (no joke, real name) who has been helping me recently. Read her comments and analysis here.
Roasted burdock root, apple and chestnut stuffing, fairy ring mushrooms, sea beet and a mixed seed/grain roti. The roti consists of chestnut and wild oat flour, mixed grass seed flour, ground walnuts, and the seeds of the following plants: love-in-a-mist (Nigella damascena), sea sandwort (Honckenya peploides) and sharp rush (Juncus acutus).
Apart from this I’ve set myself a new goal: to make 150 fruit leather rolls by 1st November. There is a very good reason for this that I will explain later. So far I’ve made 12.
Finally, and importantly, I’ve been admiring the local wild life. The deductive method can be most satisfying when the conclusion deriving from fairly basic knowledge proves to be correct.
What is this beautiful caterpillar, I thought? It has a ‘tail’ so must belong to the hawk moth family? It’s feeding on some sort of spurge. We’re by the sea so perhaps it’s sea spurge. Perhaps then this hawk moth caterpillar feeding on spurge is a spurge hawk moth larvae (Hyles euphorbiae)? All correct I think! OK, I didn’t deduce the Latin!