White fire…

There is an idea in Judaism that you can find meaning in the Torah two ways: through the words themselves (black fire) as well as the space between words (white fire). Often the most interesting and meaningful interpretations come when readers go beyond the actual text and attempt to create their own understandings by imagining what else happened that isn’t actually written. It’s a kind of storytelling…

Right now I feel like I’m living in the white space of my life. I first had this thought while thinking about the day-to-day challenges of eating healthfully. In early September I started working with a nutritionist who looked carefully at how I was already eating and has been slowly guiding me towards making changes that I can live with for the rest of my life. By far the biggest change and challenge has come in how I snack. Before –> snacking = constantly and nonstop. Now –> I intentionally have three snacks a day. More importantly, this means that, theoretically at least, there are several hours a day when I’m not eating anything. And it is here, in those hours of not eating, that my battle to overcome my life-long weight issues really takes place. For I find that I can tell myself two stories in this white space. One story, the old story, is that immediate gratification is everything. That food is an acceptable remedy for anxiety, boredom and loneliness. And that it is okay for me to choose a pale existence. But a new story has been emerging, one of unlimited potential and power. And it goes like this – when I choose not to eat, not because of some rigid rule but because I just ate and I’m not hungry – I am choosing life. I know that sounds dramatic but I truly believe it to be true. Eating when I don’t need to allows me to mask difficult emotions, at least a little, and that is just enough to keep me complacent. Not grabbing food removes this protective layer. And only then, when I allow myself to wallow, does my self-survival mechanism kick in. I’m, regrettably, an insecure person but I’m also proud and I can beat myself up for only so long before I eventually say “enough”! Then I get energized and determined and decide to fight for myself and the life I want, for the type of person I know I can be and want to be.

But this idea of white space goes beyond food. I’m also between careers, in the pause between chapters of my working life. Lately I’ve been filling my head with lots of stories about what I’m not. It has been a difficult time. But I know that I have to endure this phase because as long as I don’t take any short-cuts, I will eventually find myself waiting at the bottom of these bleak thoughts to once again start fighting for myself. To be the champion of my light and not just my darkness.

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