T Minus Two Type Two Diabetes and Other Passions

26Sep/130

Of Tinkertoys, Perception of Self, and the Wee Small Hours

For many years, I have visualized the contents of our hearts and minds as an enormous, intricate and ever-changing network of nodes and rods. Each node represents a belief, a memory, an idea, a feeling, anything like that. The rods make up the billions of the connections between them. Do you ever travel around an area you've lived for a long time and noted all the building for which you have some kind of association? That house is where your friend's boss lived, so you've got nodes related to that house and your friend's boss, and those two nodes each have rods connecting to each other and the node for that friend, as well as to your memory of how badly that boss treated your friend and the sadness you feel about that.

(I often think of this structure, actually, as being made of the Tinkertoys I spent hours with as a child. Kiddies, come listen to Grandpa talk about how they were made of wood in those days.)

Everything that changes for us in however tiny a way requires at least a tweak to some part of that structure. Suppose you read an article about a musician you like. You learn that a forthcoming album is being done with a known producer. So, you add nodes for the new information and add rods of connection to the node for that producer. The article leads you to reevaluate your opinion of a particular album that you'd not liked, so you have to tear out the little bit of structure related to that musician and that album in order build in the new information AND the new opinions AND any new feelings.

(You –do- understand that I’m neither a neurologist nor a psychologist, right?)

When something big happens, in this metaphor, big chunks of the structure may require rebuilding, and I see that kind of work as requiring mental and emotional resources. In recent weeks, I have had trouble sleeping. No, that’s incorrect: I've had trouble choosing to sleep. Into the night, I play silly computer games and do the other things I do in period of stress. It’s my suspicion that my particular makeup uses the quiet of the late evening to do maintenance on my structure.

Why is so much work required right now? A couple of months ago, I started walking a certain amount every day. About a month ago, I started tracking what I eat and adjusting what I eat to meet the daily targets. Shortly after that, I started adding light calisthenics and dumbbell work. In short, I’m making changes. And, at this point, most of the changes feel sustainable: doing these things don’t require a triumph of will on most days.

(Do not read any of this as even a HINT that you should do ANY of this, too. I am not going to become one of those people who becomes convinced that what worked for them is The Answer. If I DO become that person, please shoot me.)

I have been seriously overweight for about four decades. For three and a half of those decades, I have made sporadic efforts to live in a way that might help with that, and I have ultimately failed in all of those efforts. I have felt bad about being fat, and I have felt bad about being unable to do anything about it. Since my diagnosis, when it became clear that healthy changes would be beneficial whether I lost any weight or not, my inability to make those changes has become deeply frustrating and deeply perplexing. More than anything else, this lack of success in moving forward has been what this blog has been about. All of this, I think, is a fairly big part of my structure of nodes and rods.

So, the change from Bob-as-I've-always-been to Bob-who-mostly-eats-well-and-exercises is a major one. I don’t know if it would be for anyone else, but it is for me. My last post was an attempt to begin to wrap my head around becoming a different-in-a-big-way person.There is, if my metaphor is valid, a great deal of rebuilding going on.

And that, I think, is what I’m doing late into the night when it seems like I’m just playing solitaire.

12Sep/132

Makeover: Not a Post About Clothing or Hair

An allegory. Or a metaphor. Or a random neural firing. Or something.

Once upon a time there was a man who’d never paid much attention to how he dressed. He tried wear clothing appropriate to the situation, but mostly wanted things that were comfortable and easy to care for.

Then, a friend talked him into making some changes. The friend took him to a store where he replaced his business clothes with things that fit well, were made of quality materials, were fashionably cut and colored, and made him look like he earned a bit more than he currently did. Then, the friend took him to a different store for “having fun” clothes that were bright and pleasingly eye-catching.  Finally, the friend took him to a salon where he was taught to style his hair in a way that was very attractive but much different than he’d ever worn before.

Back alone at home, the man examined his new look in the mirror. The changes, he knew, were just beginning. Getting ready for work or a social event would take longer, and he’d have to spend more time caring for the new clothes. Further, he would have to regularly replace items in his new wardrobe to keep it fashionable and in good repair.

There were other things, too, maybe more important. The man suspected that the people around him would react to him a little differently, and new acquaintances would be meeting a somewhat different person.  And, he understood, he would even have to adjust how he perceived himself.

The man loved his new look. But, as he examined himself in the mirror, he asked himself:

“Am I still me?”
   

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