Posted by: Melissa Bane Sevier | November 16, 2009

You Are What You Eat

This may not be a great title for a blog as we are heading into the season of big meals and lots of extraneous food.  If this heading were literally true, there would be days when I would mostly be composed of fudge.  Let’s go with the metaphorical meaning instead.

I was going through some old photos from Mexico the other day, including the trip Jerry and I took to a nature preserve where there are tens of thousands of flamingos.  You probably know that flamingos are pink because their

Flamingos at Celestún, Mexico

Flamingos at Celestún, Mexico

 diets consist almost entirely of shrimp.  It got me thinking about how what I take into myself at least partially makes me who I am.  Yes, it’s part of the nature vs. nurture conversation, which I’ve always believed is not an either/or proposition, but a both/and.  I am who I am because of my genetic makeup, certainly, but also because of the whole range of experiences I had in my formative years:  family, school, church, friends, etc. 

I don’t think the “nurture” part ceases when we become adults.  The difference is that now I have a few more choices in what goes into the mix than I did when I was a child.  Of course, some things are out of my control, but I can choose what I read and study, how I spend my leisure time, who are the friends I turn to for counsel. 

Because we are humans, not flamingos, we can also choose to some extent the amount of influence these things have over us.  We can decide that a day of frightening news will inform but not overwhelm us.  We can determine whether we will give more weight to positive events or negative ones.  We can resolve to be moved by prayer and the kind words of a loved one rather than by anger aimed in our direction.  We can elect to think calming thoughts when stress hangs heavy over our heads.

The holidays are on their way, with all sorts of influences, and all sorts of decisions to be made regarding what to do about them.  Will we be able to sort through the stuff, taking in mostly the good and letting go of the bad?  Will we find ways of helping others receive good things in their lives as well?

Though I’ll have many moments of relapse during the next couple of months when I won’t remember to be persuaded by peaceful things rather than stressful ones, I hope I’ll remember the flamingo and resolve to pay more attention to absorbing the good things while letting the less good slide by a little more often.

Now I think I’ll go have a shrimp salad.  And a (tiny) piece of fudge.

© Melissa Bane Sevier, 2009

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