He walks onto the bus, and the 12-year-old girl in me leaps to attention. Everything about him is wrong for what the middle-aged me wants and needs–it’s obvious in everything from his posture and his grooming to his Converse high-tops, but my body is responding to different cues. I tell myself, “Yes, appealing. No, you may not engage.”
When I get to work and I’m standing in front of the fully stocked refrigerator, I have the same conversation with myself, “Yes, you want it. No, you may not engage.” Except this time I am weeding out the foods that are no longer an option for either my waistline or digestive system.
I have always loved “bad” men and bad food. There are ways in which taking someone or something in and punishment and love were all tangled up and undecipherable in my central nervous system for most of my life.
But not now.
There is a moment in the movie A Beautiful Mind where a man from the Nobel Prize committee asks the schizophrenic mathematician how he’s overcome the voices in his head. He answers, “I haven’t. They’re all right here, right now. I’ve just learned not to engage them.”
To allow the desires to exist, to allow the voices to tell their predictable tales. And to interrupt our compulsive responses to them. I can admire the man on the bus every morning, and stand for a long as I need to in front of the Pop Tarts box at work. There are choices to be made and I know how to make them. I will not fill up on what can never truly fill me.