2. The Cake Is Implied

cake eat
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HOWEVER, IF YOU ASKED ME TO PULL SOME KIND OF SIGNIFICANCE FROM IT, I would say that, perhaps what Collin Jones meant when he said that seeing people eat made him sad, he was referring to the “process”: if you want to change, you have to digest all that you have. Food changes as you eat it. You have to know what it is that you want to eat before you eat it, and then you have to break it down – first by chewing it, effectively pulverizing the combined ingredients into even simpler materials, and then converting those materials into something useful as the process continues.

Now, you might be saying (and I still do mean YOU, but hypothetically in this scenario), “That’s all well and good, Jared, but recall your original quote: he said he wanted LIFE to consume HIM, so his latter statement about being sad when people eat food makes NO SENSE whatsoever in this context,” and, of course, you would probably be right, and you would probably never say that anyways because, honestly, who would?

For this to work, we would have to really stretch our imaginations – so, yeah, let’s do that. For now, stretch your imaginations with me, and imagine: Collin Jones is literally the food he is referring to, and he wants to be vored by LIFE ITSELF, and the thought of being gnashed and mangled and digested by the world so as to be repurposed into something that is only practically useful by the society that he has been assimilated into appeals to him.

So, yeah, we are getting a bit too deep into this, but… let’s keep going.

Last year, my friend Miles J. Kot described being under stress as being “eaten alive”.

Strangely, when I heard him say that, I suddenly understood that I had being feeling the same way, too. I couldn’t think of anything more horrible – and I didn’t need to, either. We’re all feeling it. We all feel it.

It is ironic that we cannot have our cake and eat it, too.

(From the Free Dictionary): “Because ‘have’ can also mean ‘eat,’ this expression may seem redundant. However, it is based on the meaning of ‘have’ as ‘to possess,’ i.e., to maintain possession of one’s cake while still eating it, an obvious impossibility”.

You, dear reader, cannot eat your cake, and then EAT YOUR CAKE.

Yes, you can enjoy your cake – however, you cannot enjoy your cake while you are eating it.

Does that bother you? Think about it.

You can enjoy the taste of your cake as you eat it, absolutely, but at this point you’ve already committed to its consumption: as you chew, your cake is reduced (or, returned) to its original ingredients, so as to be more easily digestible.  

In my own interest, dear reader, allow me to generalize for a moment: I will assume that you enjoy sweets, and that you enjoy indulging yourself with sweets every now and again.

If I asked you what your favorite part of dessert is, would I be right to assume it’s the taste?* I feel confident in that answer, personally. It would also be my answer. That being said, why would it be anything else? Do you enjoy swallowing it? Do you enjoy having cake goop forced down your gullet?** Do you enjoy gorging yourself to full? Do you enjoy feeling your body break down all of your dessert’s inessential sugars and fats? Do you enjoy the sounds your body makes while it does this? Probably not.

*(You could also say it’s the aesthetic appeal of the dessert, but I would doubt you.)

** (Will admit this part reads as vaguely sexually suggestive, but… alas!)

How food tastes will obviously determine whether or not we like that food (and, in some instances as I’ve discussed above, the food’s aesthetic presentation might play some part in how you receive it), but despite this, our enjoyment of the food – any food – will not erase the fact that some foods are simply (nutritionally speaking) NOT GOOD FOR US.

I will supplement the next point I will make with another story first: once, at the Multnomah Athletic Center, which I briefly temped for as a janitor, I found myself at the midpoint of my shift, exhausted, hungry, and with no food whatsoever. I hadn’t expected the shift to last so long. So, in a dizzy, half-dead stupor I found myself scouring the unfamiliar halls aimlessly until I wandered into a small eatery within the center walls that was about to close, and I asked them if they could make an exception for a hungry worker that had almost completely wasted his midday break looking for someplace to eat. The employees were very understanding, and gave me a box of fried rice with some chili (for free, I might add). One of the employees wished me luck on the remainder of my shift and left me with the parting message, “Remember: it’s not about the TASTE, it’s about the SPACE”.

Even today, the proverb gives me pause for thought.

No, it does not matter what it is so long as it does nourish you.

We do not eat cake for nourishment. We eat cake to celebrate. Although, we typically eat cake to celebrate other people, other times we eat cake to celebrate ourselves. There is nothing wrong in celebrating ourselves. However, I suppose that having cake everyday would eventually prove to be unenjoyable, wouldn’t it?

But, again, it’s not about the taste. It was never about the taste.

We eat food in the same ways that our lives consume us.

Again, this is not a perfect metaphor, either – when I say that life “consumes us,” I do not mean all at once. I am not referring to life as those external forces which act upon you and I (i.e. society, cultural norms and values, capitalism, debt, etc.) but rather “life” as in that continued existence which is uniquely yours (in this instance, YOU can refer to either you and I, or specifically you, dear reader). I refer to “life” as a continued process which requires you to sustain it. In this instance, how you sustain this process is by GIVING YOURSELF TO IT. All of what life demands is anything it can use to sustain itself. You are what it uses to sustain itself.  

What is your life?

That’s a question only you can answer. How you choose to live your life, and how you have chosen to live your life will determine your answer to this question. Whether or not you’ve lived a good life, or a full life, might also factor into how you respond to this question.

For many people, also, I’m sure that religion, or one’s spirituality, or more precisely their faith, factors into this answer as well. Without broaching the topic of Him (the Capital-G word!), I would still endeavor to ask you, dear reader, by your own metric, have you lived a good, full life? Has it been fulfilling? Have you been able to eke out an existence worthy of your presence within your allotted timespan upon this Earth?

Take that question, and then take your answer to that question, and assume this next statement to be another maxim as well:

You are not your life.

Another paradox, maybe, but consider it. If you are familiar with Heidegger, the concepts behind Gestell and Dasein – particularly his idea of “fallen-ness,” that being the inauthenticity or performativity we all use to more easily fit into the world at large (although I’m sure there are better definitions, and I would recommend doing your own reading for this one) – we are all, to some extent, inauthentic versions of ourselves. Thus, we are not our lives.

What is your life?

This time, consider it a rhetorical question. I’ll give you my answer: your life (in this instance, mine or yours) are the conditions and requirements necessary for your existence to continue. I mean existence here to be literal. Existence, as in to live, and not to exist as in to have any kind of presence (in your own life, or in other people’s lives besides your own).

Life is not very glamorous, I’m afraid. Life requires a great deal to function properly. We give ourselves to it so that we might be authentic within it, and the cost associated with the maintenance of our continued existence within it is the inauthenticity accompanying our presence.

Actually, to exist as we are now, as our authentic selves, unfiltered, would be a mistake. Within our lives, respectively, we must create boundaries to delineate ourselves from others, and from others that we align with, and from others that we consider ourselves opposed to (morally, logically, spiritually, etc.)

Good cannot be true without bad also being true. Right cannot be right without there also being wrong. There can be no light without dark. Et cetera.

I broach this topic now, not to go on yet another tangent, but to demonstrate that there is no apotheosis, social or otherwise, in attempting to “split hairs” over each and every decision you and/or I have made insofar that we should always be “authentic”.

Authenticity is not always good, and inauthenticity is not always bad.

Words reveal more about the person than what they are saying. Put another way, the subtext is more important than the actual text. People will sometimes say, “Sure,” or “Maybe,” when what they really mean is “No”.

So, hypothetically, if you were to ask me, “Jared, do you think that it is about the space, and not about the taste?” I would answer “Maybe!”

I would tell you, in good conscience, that it was a thoughtful sentiment to be imparted with, and that it made my day a little bit easier knowing that somebody had given me food out of the good of their own hearts, and not because anybody would reward or praise them for having done so.

I would also tell you that while the food did nourish me at the time, it did give me a little bit of a tummy ache afterwards. Although, I do have a sensitive stomach, too.

Anyways, life should not just be fulfilling. That might seem very selfish because, after all, there are people less fortunate than either you or I.

No, life should also be good.

I should also hope that people agree with me on this point. Do you (dear reader) want life to be bad? Do you want suffering to continue as a mode of existence on this home that we call Earth? Of course not. I say this, but not under the assumption that we, or anyone in the course of human history for that matter, will eliminate human suffering totally. The proposition is unrealistic and based squarely in the realm of fantasy.

Yes, I know that human suffering will continue. Yes, I am aware that we cannot totally erase all of our collective pain and create an idyllic, utopian society.

Yes, ideals are ideals, and mine are that life should be both fulfilling and good. Life is not very glamorous, I’m afraid, but it is my understanding that we do want more goodness in the world, yes?

Goodness will be subjective. There is no agreed-upon consensus today for what is good, objectively speaking. In terms of taste, especially, there can be no one interpretation that is somehow more valid than any other; however, on the subject of desserts, it is one thing to taste good, and another thing entirely to be good.

Another turn of phrase that might be familiar to you, dear reader, is when somebody receives their “just desserts,” and if you are one of the most savvy and well-read readers, you might also know that that is a common misspelling attributed to countless years of pop culture misuse often said in conjunction with some awful pun about desserts. Originally, however, “just deserts” usually refers to a comeuppance of some kind. If we are to reapply the pun, we are still on-track for my intended denouement: that being, we cannot always cater to our immediate wants and desires for instant gratification and meanwhile expect to remain in good health of body and mind.

Cake is not something we will always eat because it would not be in our best interest to do so. We know that cake is not good for us because its ingredients do not provide any significant nutritional value.

Cake can be fulfilling. Cake can taste good, but cake is not good for you.

Again, this is not a perfect metaphor I’m building up to – no metaphor is (or can be) perfect –but hopefully, by now, you see where I’m going with this.

Hopefully, I know where I’m going with this, too, since I’ve spent a few days working on this one piece of writing already, uh…

Hedonism is bad.

Your wants should always come secondary to your needs, but indulging frequently is, by itself, not a punishable offense.

These are value judgements of my own accord, obviously. I am well aware that somebody could make the argument that “Hedonism is good, actually,” but then we would have to define hedonism, and what hedonism means to that individual, and so on and so forth. Every person has their own interpretation of how much is too much. If we are, then, for the sake of argument, to say that the philosophy of hedonism is (Free Dictionary): “what is pleasant or has pleasant consequences is intrinsically good,” then we would have to define what “pleasant” means and how these instances would arise to begin.

All this is to say that these words are intrinsically meaningless in the same way that I could have removed “intrinsically” from this sentence and still get the same point across.

Perhaps there is merit in fulfillment, such that we submit to our lives and the rigid requirements of our own determination – in other words, we have to know what it is that we want out of our lives. In order to exist we have to create an environment where our existence can be maintained, but as equally pertinent, we have to exist so that we can allow ourselves to be present.

Maybe I’ve gotten ahead of myself.

There is no moral quandary to eating cake besides the knowledge of what it means to “let them eat cake” (A/N: This is a complete thought and I will not elaborate).

You cannot eat your cake, and then eat your cake.

You cannot live your life, and then live your life.

Be aware of what goodness it is that enriches your life, and know that you are what you eat.

If you’ve been able to sustain yourself comfortably up until now, consider where you will be if you continue as you are. What commitments do you have that allow you to live as you do now? What sacrifices do you make? Is it worth it? Will it be worth it eventually?


JD-Jurado all rights reserved © 2020


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1. Idiosyncratic Informalities

poetry self reflectin
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FOLLOWING THE TYPICAL CONVENTIONS afforded as a writer (thus the cheeky ALL CAPS at the start of this paragraph), I’ve found that I speak to myself in many ways besides the immediately obvious internalized-conversations-between-the-self. All writing, taken as a whole, is a time commitment. Everyone has different approaches to writing, and so everyone has different approaches to the kinds of stories they tell, and why.

We don’t write only for ourselves, we write to an audience (perceived or otherwise) that we want to have respond to us and our writing, and preferably in a positive way!  

There’s a saying that goes something along the lines of, “Everyone is their own worst critic,” or something of the sort. I can’t be bothered to look it up. It’s probably close enough, anyways. It’s hard NOT being myself when I’m writing, or to imagine an audience for the text that is anyone besides myself (because I am always myself and I am always capable of improving upon what I’ve already created).

When I do write specifically for myself, it will be addressed to myself (and if I wanted someone else’s input, I would have addressed it to someone else, or nobody at all). So, maybe this piece of writing is meant for myself, but I also mean it to be forthcoming – I’ve not found all the answers, and to expect anybody to have any or all of them would be unrealistic.

It’s too easy to be cynical.

It takes much more out of somebody* to stay positive, especially as the world is now.

*of course, when I say “somebody,” you (dear reader) know that I am referring specifically to myself, don’t you?

This decade started with India telling me, “Staying positive implies the existence and acceptance of negativity but with the understanding that it won’t always be shitty”. If you’re struggling now, remember that nothing lasts forever, everything changes eventually, and you’re still able to make a difference in ways that can impact others.

That being said, it’s not your responsibility to be OR stay positive. It’s also not your responsibility to make others happy.

It is your responsibility, however, to take care of yourself.

Yes, I am talking to YOU, reader, if you are still with me, and not to myself when I refer to YOU (although that might not always be the case, and if so, I will take care to remind YOU, the reader, that when I refer to YOU in some instances, I am referring to myself).

When I write for myself, it is because I am holding up a mirror. These conversations between myself and I are externalized and put into words. Now, I can read myself clearly, fluently, and I am much more organized with how my thoughts are expressed.

I am no longer in the abstract. I am concrete. I am digestible.

Writing is therapeutic because it reveals us to ourselves. We tell stories to reveal ourselves to us, and to others.

You might have also heard the expression before, “The past is a story we tell ourselves,” (and, yes, I will fully admit that I just googled that quote, and I haven’t watched Her, so maybe I don’t grasp the full context of how it is used in that movie, but the sentiment rings true regardless) but have you considered the notion that all of the present, at this point in time, right now, is a story that we are writing, collectively?

I will also admit that this metaphor easily breaks down under a fair amount of scrutiny, but I believe it works as a framing device nonetheless.

It might be easier to say, then, that we are not writing our own stories, but we do a great deal of editing to fit each part of our lives into our own exclusive, larger narratives.

Where am I going with this.

Where am I going with this?

We do not control every aspect of our lives completely, but we do have agency over how we work within each of our own personal limitations, and how we react to those externalities outside of our control.

That’s a pretty good conclusion. I’m sure somebody has said something along those same lines before, but I’ve had that thought enough times to where it feels liberating to finally put it into words, making it official.

It’s a little victory. Every day can have some little victory if you try hard enough – but sometimes, your best isn’t enough. It won’t always be that way. Change comes sooner or later.

I’m waiting on that change to sweep me away now.

My good friend Collin Jones said to me once, and I don’t remember exactly when, that all he wanted was for life to consume him. I used to think about this a lot. I still do. I also remember him telling me that “people eating food” made him sad. When I asked him why, he said, “it’s so sad,” and then added, “especially when they chew it”.

I also think about that a lot. Putting those two non-sequiturs together, I’d like to pull some kind of significance from it, but deep down I know that it was probably just Collin Jones smoking an atrocious amount of marijuana and using some colorful language to get his thoughts out all at once.

© JD-Jurado all rights reserved 2020


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hard times covid 19
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Terrified by my own reflection
I catch my own:
A glint of hope
Here are the years I wanted to remember
Forget to live
Forget to wade
In existing to exist
In being to be
I forget to breathe
I forget to breathe
Here’s hoping for better
Now I’m into myself
Sunk into surrender
Edit as you go
Be okay being scared
Be afraid
As you must
Find another path you trust
Find another home for us
We’ll be on our way
Today seems awful gray
But know we’ll be okay

JD-Jurado February/March is about staying positive in hard times.


© JD Jurado all rights reserved 2020

#poems #poetry #creativewriting #wisdomwednesday

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