OM. Think about it —
In Eastern philosophy, yin-yang is used to describe how polar or seemingly contrary forces are interconnected and interdependent in the natural world, and how they give rise to each other in turn. I have observed these very forces at work in the duality of From Blob to Blog in many minor details of everyday life as a blob, but no example of interdependent duality is more perfectly salient (or more irresistably delicious) than Coca-cola.*
In Taoist philosophy, yin and yang arise together from an initial quiescence or emptiness, and continue moving in tandem until quiescence is reached again. For instance, dropping a stone in a calm pool of water will simultaneously raise waves and lower troughs between them, and this alternation of high and low points in the water will radiate outward until the movement dissipates and the pool is calm once more. Yin–yang, thus, are always opposite and equal qualities. Further, whenever one quality reaches its peak it will naturally begin to transform into the opposite quality: the Coca-Cola that threatens my very being on a diet (fully yang) will be will be a refreshingly satisfying alternative (fully yin) to something even yang-i-er like a donut or a chocolate or a Biggie fries — on and on — in an endless cycle. It is impossible to talk about yin or yang without some reference to the opposite, since yin–yang are bound together as parts of a mutual whole. A life with only Coke to drink or with no Coke to drink would end surely the instant it began. (Especially the one with no Coke to drink. If life it didn’t end itself, I’d have to end it.) There is a perception (especially in the West) that yin and yang correspond to good and evil. However, Taoist philosophy generally discounts good/bad distinctions as superficial labels, preferring to focus on the idea of balance. That’s where I’m at, today anyway, with Coca-Cola. But I wasn’t always so enlightened.
Perhaps you are surprised to read that there is something in this world that I enjoy consuming yet have successfully resisted. Such has not exactly been a running theme on this blog. But I’ve been really good about avoiding soda since about the first of this year. I feel pretty good about it, too, because until this year I have been operating with an approximate .06 blood Coca-Cola level since high school.
See, and this may be deeply Freudian here, but I was never allowed to drink soda as a wee blob – only for a special treat. Then when I was finally promoted to The Boss of Me, I treated myself to a soda at every opportunity. This stems largely from the Mentality of Desert which I touched on briefly last week. I don’t know if this makes sense to anyone else, but I plied myself into doing even the most inane daily tasks with the promise of a Coke to enjoy contemporaneously or directly after whatever undesirable task was at hand. Made it out of bed in time for Sociology class today? Take a Coke for the long lecture. Walked across campus for afternoon class instead of driving? Refresh your sun-baked self from that quarter-mile sojourn with a Coke. Up all night to finish (well, START, then finish) that ten-page paper due tomorrow. Coke.
But then I caught wind of the Great Cellulite Scare.
Since cellulite has been threatening hostile takeover of my entire body since the 11th grade, I pretty much went cold turkey on Cokes. But I have perceived no retreat by the army of unsightly dimples since that sad day. If anything, quite the opposite trend as newer, more audacious dimples replace the first waves of timid, barely-there dents. And as the spring of my life marches steadily into the summer it’s not as though I am long on days for wearing short-shorts and micro minis.So I’m starting to wonder: Why deny?
What have I really gained sustaining my monastic abstention from Coca-cola? Nothing perceptible, as far as I can tell. What do I even stand to gain? Well, I guess there’s reduced sodium intake, and I know sugar is the devil. But it can’t be all bad, can it? I mean life just isn’t that simple. There’s got to be a yin to the yang of Coca-Cola.
Last week a former co-worker who left on maternity leave prior to my first day staggered into the office as we were closing for the day, and was honestly trembling in the wake of her immediate trauma. She had been in a car wreck on the nearby freeway, not catastrophic, but certainly upsetting. Now, I’d only met her once before, so I felt not slightly awkward greeting her in that moment. What sprang from my lips in that instant is only the epitome of my approach to all food:“Are you ok?”
“What can I do for you?”
“Do you want a Diet Coke?”
And she said yes! And as sure as I sit here typing now I tell you this: I really think it helped. I do! I think I have discovered the Yin of Coca-Cola, the healing restorative side that I’ve been missing in my life.And this brings me hope. And Coke.
[All smart-sounding stuff credit: Yin and Yang.]
* Unlike most people, I am equally tempted by Coke and Diet Coke alike. I don’t get caught up in the whole divide between two iterations of the same thing which are equally amazing. Though, editorially, I will say that I really feel the whole thing is approaching East Coast/West Coast magnitude.