Generally, I’m a really easy going guy, with an amazing patience for cultural, spiritual, and personal relativity. I grew up in a multicultural family and internalized the belief that different peoples, and even different people in the same family, can live happily with different beliefs.
Despite this, I’m just about fucking fed up with this whole “gluten-free” bullshit.
I mean, don’t get me wrong, I love my family and friends– but sometimes they’re just bat-shit crazy and suckered into the same stupid pseudo-religious cargo-cult brainwashed mentality as the rest of the crazies in the world. For the most part, when my loved ones spin off into the brainless deepend of the newly born-again zealot, I just think “eh, whatever, they’re still my friend– gotta take the bat-shit with the good” Lately, however, it’s just getting to be too much.
The worst of it comes when I vocalize a seemingly innocuous comment that is immediately met with a half-crazed look of a fundamentalist who’s just newly to the light and a frantic assurance that if I stop eating gluten, all my troubles will be solved and I will surely ascend to heaven with the pure and just!
I can’t play tennis, I have bad knees. You should stop eating gluten!!
Wow, I drank too much last night, I have a headache. You should stop eating gluten!!
I’m tired. You should stop eating gluten!!
I want a vacation. You should stop eating gluten!!
I dropped my computer down three flights of stairs and can’t afford a new one. You should stop eating gluten!!
Despite my incredible patience and love for these people, I sometimes honestly feel like the next time someone tells me I should stop eating gluten I’m probably going to beat them to a bloody pulp with a pipe and then sprinkle breadcrumbs over their wounds.
I am so sick of hearing about your goddamn no-gluten diet people. Shut the fuck up.
I have no idea why.
I think it’s probably because when I start getting to the “beat my friends and family to a bloody pulp with a pipe” phase of a relationship, I think it’s probably a good idea to step back and assess things. So there’s that.
It might be because I thought it’d be a good way to shut people up.
My phone’s battery just died.
You should stop eating gluten!!
Yeah, fuckhead, I tried that and, just like everyone with a braincell would realize, it didn’t fix my phone’s battery, so shut the fuck up.
I have no idea why– it was probably some combination of spite and pipe-beating-rage– but I decide to take a the month of April and stop eating wheat.
Not gluten, mind you. I still ate gluten because I drank beer and ate oatmeal and did plenty of other stuff. I just said “no hefeweizen, no bread, and no pasta.”
For the entire month of April I said “Okay chowderheads, I’ll stop eating wheat, and if it fixes my bike’s flat tire, I won’t beat you with a fucking pipe.”
“What was the outcome?” You ask.
Yeah, pretty much what you’d expect.
I am such a fucking asshole.
Sometimes, and in all seriousness, I think about becoming a priest.
You laugh– especially given my profanity placed in the previous sections to highlight the comically ironic nature of the eventual conclusion of this post– but I’m serious. I often think that I don’t live a live that’s spiritual enough, even though I spend a percentage of my mental processing power on spiritual thought that most people, if they knew the truth, would shudder at. Because of this, a life dedicated to that is very appealing to me, and moreso as I get older. Of course, I’m not a Christian,1 so I’d have to work that out somehow. Becoming a priest who’s not affiliated with Christ these days is a difficult prospect. There actually is a strong Celtic church close to here that I think of affiliating myself with.
Anyway, I digress. The point is that I often think of becoming a priest, and part of the reason is that I’ve made my share of mistakes that I’d hope could guide others to a more positive relationship with their fellow man. I don’t like sermons, because they basically put people to sleep and suck the wind right out of a room, but I, we all, love stories.
And this is a story I could tell. I’m not sure what I’d call it. Something like “The Irony of Intolerance.”
Because the fact is that– despite not actually being the kind of person who’d beat someone with a pipe because of their dietary choice and its affect on their health, whether real or imagined– I was intolerant. I didn’t want to hear about my friend’s issues, their choices, or their suggestions. I wanted them to shut up.
And why? I don’t know. Inconvenience? Boredom? I was intolerant and I don’t even know why.
And therein lies the great irony.
For the past 20+ years, I’ve been dealing with gastrointestinal issues. Long-time readers of this blog will have read some of this already. I’ll skip the gory details and say only that my intestinal tract (from mutt to butt, my entire gut) has, for almost as long as I can remember, been… troublesome.
And then in April, I stop eating only refined wheat, and within half a week I started noticing a slight difference in the… trouble. Two weeks into this experiment, I realized that I hadn’t actually noticed certain parts of my anatomy for over a week.
You have no idea how huge this is unless you are unfortunate enough to live in constant pain. With constant pain, you are always aware. Some part of your mental capacity is always noticing the part of your body that is in pain. Over time, you grow accustomed to this feeling, and you start to shut off that part of your mind– but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. People with constant pain, if they are lucky enough to find adequate treatment, sometimes describe it terms like “I didn’t realize I’d been wearing a black veil, and it was suddenly removed from before my eyes on a sunny day.”
In the second week of April, I realized that I could see the sun.
The first week of May, confident that I had experienced a non-causal relationship between my pain and something I hadn’t anticipated, I began eating wheat again.
It took a single day for the pain to return.
And that is the irony that I would talk about. The fact that I was intolerant about gluten, only to realize that I am gluten intolerant.
I’ve since had myself tested and found other confirmations about other food sensitivities (Hazelnuts don’t just give me heartburn, they burn going down my throat). Gluten, cow-dairy (except butter, oddly enough), citrus, peppers, coffee, and some nuts. All, quite honestly, things that I can point to as being linked with increased pain. All foods that I absolutely love.
And here I stand, not only saddened by this realization that most of my favorite foods are now excluded from my diet because I am intolerant of gluten, but saddened moreso that I was so intolerant of my friends and family. It is almost as if the gods want me to feel that apology internally and hold onto the lesson deeply.
In many of the old stories, the pre-Christian stories of both Europe and North America, the hero of the story is forced to pay dearly for mistakes that they make. Often that hero rebukes and pays mortally. More often, that hero admits their mistakes and accepts their penitence. In accepting them, they still pay dearly– the early gods let no-one off the hook– but in paying dearly they are rewarded dearly in transcendence.
My apology, my penitence, is not without its reward. Because with this penitence comes resolution of a majority of my life in pain and suffering. With this penitence comes the sunlight as a black veil is removed from my eyes.
Sometimes, I think about becoming a priest, because I’ve been forged in many fires, I’ve paid dearly for many mistakes, and though I have not yet experienced transcendence, I still weep in acceptance of my payment.