*Yes, this has to do with typical Runner’s Delight topics. Promise!
Six people. 185 miles, many in the snow. One giant truck. Yup, welcome to “life, the universe and everything” conversations. As expected, the basis of pondering the existence of life on other planets, current politics, and whether or not owl would make a good form of sushi were covered over the course of my road-trip this weekend. And then our idle chit-chat and games of “Would you rather…” led into words and thoughts with deeper purpose.
Eventually, the subject of religion came up. We had with us a heathen, three mostly un-religious sorts, an agnostic, and someone who had been Evangelical as a teenager but ran for the hills after some critical thought (furthered by the words of Mark Twain). Discussion of absurd bible passages, what a God-like figure ideally would be like, and who exactly the Holy Ghost was ran rampant. The most insistent and most persistent in pushing against any sort of God-centric religion was the reformed Evangelical. Knowledgeable on the subject, well-researched, and positively persuasive, the rest of the truck’s passengers were out-matched to argue much. At one point, someone commented on his ability to talk down religion, and with a smile he said, “Well, no one preaches like a convert.”
A while later, the subject of Subway sandwiches came up, and people began discussing how their slogan should be “Welcome to mediocrity.” Another person started to mention that perhaps Subway wasn’t all bad, and that’s when I found myself on a soapbox I didn’t know I cared so much about in the public-sphere.
In a bit of an out of character moment, I started venomously attacking the idea of fast-food, and the idea of pretend-healthy fast food that is carb-heavy and flash-frozen and marketed to consumers with the purpose of making them think they are choosing wisely. I went on to lecture (yes, lecture) about hyper-palatable foods, the way our culture of over-indulgence and under-thinking is completely insane, and how frustrating it was that people think a salad from a fast-food is at all worth while. I got frustrated that the texture and taste of so much food is engineered instead of prepared, and as the occupants of the car put their two cents in, played devil’s advocate, or spoke about the way we as a society eat, I sounded more and more self-righteous as I bargained for happy-mediums in the way we treat consumers. I even went as far as to suggest we should fight this problem by taking jobs at fast-food places and informing customers as they ordered about the un-healthy nature of their choices, and that this was a means of protesting and protecting.
Silence eventually took us all over, and music played while we stared out the windows. I thought quite loudly to myself, “Wow, no one does preach like a convert.”
I’m not entirely a convert in the sense that I eschew all food that is packaged, or that I don’t struggle with what most of our nation’s populous battles every day in terms of choosing the right foods. But I am someone who used to care only mildly about what and how I ate, and am now attempting to reform. And part of my transformation has taken a turn I never expected: the fact that I desperately want other people to change, too. I want them to be healthy, and to enjoy what they eat, and to be people instead of consumers. I want them to think critically, to at least acknowledge their choices, and to try to do something good for themselves once a day.
What terrifies me is that deep inside, I’m envious of those that can go to Denny’s and not think of all the reasons not to. Perhaps over-thinking food choices is secretly my form of misery, and I’m desperately seeking company. In the truck, I began advocating using mustard as salad dressing to cut back on calories, and someone looked at me and said, “No one wants to do that. Especially a person who is already at McDonald’s.” Granted, I really do love mustard on my salad, and I find satisfaction in using it. To be fair, I also think blue cheese dressing is the best thing to put over lettuce, though I’m not sure I feel the same type of satisfaction.
This all sort of leads me to conclusion I came to last night while I lay on the couch still reflecting on the events of the truck-ride: much like an agnostic doesn’t want to be preached at in order to choose a side, or a heathen wants to be told they’re going to hell, or a religious zealot wants to have atheism forced down their eardrums, it occurs to me that most people don’t want to hear about all the things they’re doing wrong in the land of food choice and health. Unless and until they want to change, they’re not going to want to hear about altering their lifestyle. If they’re reasonable happy, or reasonably satisfied to be unhappy, then the likelihood of them wanting to deal with my babble about satiating vs. stimulating foods is slim to none.
I’m not sure where this actually leaves me, though. As much as I never want to frustrate people or preach to them, it’s hard not to want the best for everyone (yes, everyone), and it’s hard not to want to give them all the information to help them make the best choice (because darn it, I want the best information for the best choice!). And where is the line between helping and hindering? Where do I say “enough” and when do I push a little further? As much as I want to believe that I could actively stop telling relative strangers about how and why we eat the way we do, I’m not convinced that it is right to do so. I’m not convinced it’s wrong, either.
Once again, I am reminded of what Ms. Farnady wrote on my third-grade PE report card: Runner’s Delight needs to learn to mind her own business. Maybe that’s the lesson I’m still trying to learn.