On Being Macrobiotic

by Marly Harris

I believe the first thing that all humans should be required to do is read a book by Rene Dubos about the impossibility of eradicating all disease. Even in the wild, lions, eating their natural diet, get dental caries and cancer.

What a waste of human energy to dream of a distant utopia when utopia is right at hand. We are born with a genetic profile. We are reared by parents who are not necessarily sensitive to health and nutritional issues. So, we begin life with several strikes against us. Our culture does not alleviate these disadvantages. We are the fortunate ones, the people who see beyond pizza and nachos and yogurt. We know that here is a way to live that will give us what we need to be healthy and beautiful and strong. However, we will never be perfectly healthy. It is destructive to aim for perfection.

I can only quote my own life as an example (we're told to write about what we know best). I awake, pain free, without bad breath, without an imperative urge to urinate. I look, upon arising, pretty much the way I'll look all day. There is no major repair work to be done because I don't process my hair or my skin. That is not the same thing as saying that I am beautiful, but it is a pleasure to awake and see a clear (usually) glowing complexion and smooth, silky hair.

But am I perfectly healthy? No. I have genetic tendencies that persist despite a lifetime of intelligent vegetarianism, fourteen years of macrobiotic living, exercise, prayer, meditation, and loving relationships. And I do not worry about those aspects that I feel I cannot control. I was created an amazingly strong woman, very powerful physically, and with an unusually retentive mind. I have also been blessed with music and art talents. But I feel, neurologically, that I am vulnerable. There has never been one moment of trouble to indicate any dormant problem, but I know that my nervous system is my weakest link.

Macrobiotics, as I live it, frees me from lusting after false gods. I do not explore alternative medicine, shark cartilage, aromatherapy, or any of the seductive fads. Every practice probably has some kernel of truth in it, but not the entire truth. I am spared from purchasing odd potions at the health-food store. If there is something wrong with me, I quietly trace what brought me to that point. It is usually something foolish that I have done, or it may be familial and essentially beyond my control.

Removing the clutter from one's life is rewarding on all levels. It wasn't intellectual virtue that drove me to stop watching (and owning) a television set many years ago. I simply began to realize that everything I ingested affected me. Aural and visual pollution were as potent in their destructive power as processed food.

I seek neither perfect health nor long life. Just the delight of the day that I have been given.

-- Marly Harris

4/6/98


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