Carving a New Groove

It is not easy to carve a new groove. The old groove is so comfortable, so familiar and dependable. We like what we like and we assiduously avoid the rest. Over time our groove gets narrower and deeper and the less there is to like. In fact, we can get so deep into our habits that it starts to feel kind of lonely and dark way down there at the bottom of the canyon. That’s when we start to have inklings that we are bigger than our groove. We feel a longing for freedom, daylight, fresh possibility! We feel the lure of new terrain, an alternative to our groove sounds exciting and fun!

So off we go, stumbling down a new path, filled with optimism and excitement! Until suddenly, there it is, the thing we don’t like. The thing(s) we did such a great job at avoiding on our old path. Ugg. Wouldn’t it be easier to drink the coffee then to suffer a migraine? Or eat the chocolate then feel the lonely sad feeling, or avoid eye contact and not risk rejection, or hold back from speaking the truth and avoid the consequences? And so we are dragged down by gravity and habit, back into our old comfortable groove. And the pain disappears. Kind of. Because now we know, we’ve seen another view, we’ve seen another path, and as wild and daring as it felt to step out of our groove the first time, we are sure to wake up again with that nagging longing to know the full freedom of our being. And so we start out again, tiptoeing, even bushwhacking down the new path, leaving the old one behind a little longer this time. But again we meet the uncomfortable thing. Again we crawl back into our cozy dark pit of despair. Until we climb back out, again lured by the sunlight and wind and the fresh smell of pine underfoot . . . And though we encounter new, previously unknown discomforts, each time we venture forth the new trail gets clearer and longer. One day, as we sit back to admire the view, we realize the new trail is our new groove.

My Own Groove

One of my own dark and miserably comfortable canyons has been sugar addiction. As long as I can remember I have anxiously circled the sugar bowl like a trained lab rat securing my next fix. Ironically, I often go to pains to explain that my mouth-full of mercury fillings is due to the acidic well water I grew up drinking not the sugar I ate as a kid. Because I can assure you that in my hippy back-to-the-land childhood there were no cocoa puffs, chewing gum or root beer. I might be the only kid I know that liked lima beans and spinach and dutifully drank (stinky) raw goats milk. So what’s up with the sweet tooth? I’ll admit that I used to wonder if calling my mother by her first name and the lack of casual comforts in our “benign neglect” childhood left me looking for love in all the wrong places . . . bad boyfriends, coca-cola and dark chocolate. But now I think sugar is just like any other drug, it cuts a deep groove, quickly.

I have frequently felt the pain of my addiction – trapped by the walls of a sugar-frosted canyon. Even as far back as high school (when my enlightened rowing coach gave me a copy of Sugar Blues) I longed to quit. And I have, often for months at a time. I’ve felt the sunny freedom, even stopped worrying about where I’d get my next fix. I’ve felt the clarity and firmness of living sugar-free, the wonderful sense of personal integrity. But then something hard comes along. Some obstacle I never dreamed of (morning sickness for 8 months!) a hardship previously unfathomable (nursing a newborn and pregnant again!) utterly unpredicted (working full-time, raising two kids, melanoma, training for triathlons, starting my own business!!!). And out of fear, I dove head-long back into the sugar groove. For the safe, warm comfort, the clean biting flavor and the pure sweet delight when joy feels far away.

Then slowly, I climb back out. I am writing this now because it is possible that my prolonged attempts to carve a new groove are finally starting to take shape. A faint new trail is appearing. All those obstacles  – those are my life. Instead of diving down into the canyon of sugar to avoid my life I am starting to tiptoe straight through it. Right into the arms of my children, my beloved husband, even my mother, who sometimes I even call “Mom” . . . And I feel a lot sweeter for it.

P.S. For me, no other sweet taste compares to the pure rush of cane sugar. Agave, yacon, maple, stevia, lacuma, brown rice syrup, mesquite, honey, dates, grapes  . . . I’ve tried them all. They might be mineral rich or low glycemic and they might even taste good to you, but to me they are chalk dust compared to the real stuff.  Just sayin’ . . . 

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