I’ve been reading Honey From the Rock, which is essentially an introduction to Jewish Mysticism, ever since my screen-free Rosh Hashana ten days ago. The very first section touched on my absolute favourite biblical analogy: the wilderness after the Exodus from slavery.
The story goes like this: after being freed from bondage in Egypt, the Children of Israel wandered the desert. They complained a lot. A LOT. They wanted to return to Egypt, where they had meat and onions to eat instead of manna all the time (they seem to have had a pretty short memory when it came to the brutally hard labour and the killing of their babies.) They were pretty insecure when it came to God, too—and as soon as Moses was absent for a bit longer than expected, they went back to the idolatry they’d become familiar with in Egypt. They couldn’t conceive of a God with no physical representation. As a consequence, nobody who had been alive during the Exodus was allowed to enter the Promised Land. They were all fated to die in the desert.
This resonates with me on so many levels. I feel like I’m in a wilderness of sorts these days, having escaped from the oppression of diet culture. Like the Israelites, I’m not really sure what to do now. I’m so confused about what to eat, when to eat, how to eat, how to live without constantly thinking about my weight and appearance. I don’t know what a life outside of diet culture looks or feels like. I often feel like it would be easier and simpler to return to diet culture, where at least I know what I’m supposed to be doing.
It might actually be easier for me to just go back to the endless cycle of dieting; it’s scary out here in the wilderness, where anything can happen. It’s wide open and full of possibility, but let’s face it—not all possibilities are good ones. More importantly, I don’t want my children to grow up surrounded on all sides by diet culture. I might die (not now, eventually) still wandering this wilderness without a clue, but my children will have a chance at a life that I can’t even imagine, where their bodies are valued for how they feel and what they can do instead of for how small they can become. To paraphrase Max Planck, body acceptance will progress one funeral at a time.
Going into the Yom Kippur fast tonight, I’ll be reflecting on how I intend to strengthen my resolve, stay the course, and explore this wilderness in which I find myself.
To everyone who is observing Yom Kippur (in whatever way you observe: not everyone can or should fast) I wish a Gmar Chatimah Tovah—may we all be written and sealed in the Book of Life this year.