Sunday, December 5, 2010

Biafra and Sirens

Growing up in the days following the Great Depression and major World Wars my mom made sure we were members of the "Clean Plate Club". She didn't actually call it that, but that's what it was. You couldn't leave the table with food on your plate no matter how much you hated it! I remember one time sitting there crying for what seemed like hours because I couldn't leave the table till I finished my soup - it had cooked tomatoes and celery - which I hated and still to this day have a hard time getting down sometimes.

I remember Mom using such motivations as "There are starving children in China who would love to have this to eat". To which I was thinking, "Well send it to them!" or "Why don't you go cook for them then?". Ooh, I was a rebellious soul!

Later on I used the same, less than successful, motivation on my own children, only by then it had changed to starving children in Biafra. Does anyone even remember Biafra and the images of children suffering from starvation and malnutrition caused by the civil war? Let me tell you those images were powerful!

I recently sat down to a beautiful dinner at well known steak house. My tender and juicy fillet, cooked "just right" as Goldilocks would say, surrounded by the roasted asparagus and steamed broccoli. A perfect Lean and Green. I had chosen wisely.

But there IT was. Sitting innocuously off to the side. Perfectly golden brown. Fluffy. Innocent in it's own simplicity. I hadn't asked for IT and IT certainly wasn't in the description of the meal on the menu card or I would have asked to have IT removed, but there IT was! Granted IT was small, maybe only 2 inches square by 1 inch high, but for the power IT had over me IT could have been the size of an aircraft carrier and IT wouldn't have made a difference!

It was with this internal brain tape of "cleaning your plate because others were starving" constantly running that when I had finished my meal I just couldn't leave well enough alone. IT started calling to me! That siren song [ of several sea nymphs, part woman and part bird, who lure mariners to destruction by their seductive singing]. I was about to go under!

All of us are going to face temptations while we journey our way to being Healthy. For some it's going to be a small IT. For others IT will be huge! What ever IT is for you, identify IT. Plan for IT.

Remember Ulysses, in Homer's Odyssey, who planned for his encounter with the sirens. He had his crew's ears stopped with wax and himself lashed to the mast of the ship in order to survive. No amount of pleading with the crew - who could not hear his cries - would allow them to release him. Yes, people IT can be that seductive.

Take a minute to contemplate how you've been responding to the sirens. Are your ears stopped? Are you lashed to the mast? or have they invaded and you are about to go under? Remember you can change your mind tape!

1 comment:

  1. BTW: Biafra lives! We lost many of our dear starving children, but the ones who survived have moved on to express the indomitable spirit of Biafra.
    But the war which engineered the starvation in the first place continues today in many forms: Nigeria has extended the Genonocidal and racial war against the Igbo / Biafra in the Nigeria geospace today. Those 1969 pictures still haunt the generation (of Biafrans) because, for us, they are reality, not mere images, making most of the generation afraid to stand and fight the continuing oppression, albeit with different "weapons." Especially when the world refused to take a Moral stand, even after the Jewish Holocaust experience; especially when the world prefers to go into denial, pretending to forget the most heart-rending genocide in the world, a hideous aberration that made Rwanda look like child's play dress rehearsal.
    But, Biafra never dies. When--not if--we get where we are going, the picture you will see and remember is that of a Biafran astronaut exploring the surface and deeps of the Planet of Mars: yes, we are that talented; except that it serves the interest of some "stakeholders" to hold the Biafran / Biafra down in perpetuity.
    I am not that sorry to mess up your metaphor and "incentivator," and I must thank you for remembering Biafra at all. Biafra lives: we live!
    Oguchi Nkwocha, MD