Paleo and the Silver Bullet
As I sit here nibbling squares from a Ritter Sport candy bar – dark chocolate with hazelnuts, my favorite – I can’t help but think of my book purchases earlier today at The Book Spot on Road Nine here in Maadi, Egypt. While there are good arguments as to why I shouldn’t have bought three paperback books, new, especially at a predominantly used bookstore, the point of reference for this blog has to do with just one of the books: Paleo Diet Made Easy. Paleo and chocolate and, I’m afraid before the evening goes much further, a glass of red wine. That might constitute a self-portrait.
Dare I say I shrink from silver bullet remedies? I’ve received them my entire life, beginning with Sunday school. ‘Believe in God and go to Heaven.’ Then at the military school: ‘Get in shape and be a dominator.” Then in college they came in fast and furious, terminating, for my generation, with: ‘Turn on, tune in, and drop out.’ The rest would come as a matter of course. In fact, you can fill in the blanks with any ideal you wanted. My favorite involved the word perfect, which seems to adhere to all silver-bullet remedies. First, there was Guru Maharaj Ji, the 14 year old Perfect Master. Next was Henry Hollingsworth, a fellow back-to-the-lander in West Virginia in 1977 who told me, following the news that his father had decided to underwrite law school for him – new car included — that he was fairly well done with the rural life anyway. He had, he confessed, while standing in the forest one day outside his dilapidated family shack, experienced ‘perfect knowledge.’ Don’t you know it’s hard to receive such knowledge second-hand?
The paleo diet, along with other health directions that go under one rubric, strikes me as a silver bullet remedy. Of course, it can be critiqued scientifically until it struggles beneath the weight of a hundred qualifications about its claims. But that’s not a good reason for ignoring everything it says. What does seem worth ignoring is the bromide-ridden simplistic reduction that promises us that if we go in one direction, all will be vouchsafed. If this one direction had worked for everyone who tried it, then the diversity among us would have been cleared up a long time ago. We would be One World as an adolescent might imagine it. All holding hands, all with tight waists, all filled with radiance behind the third eye.
While I was perusing the Health section at The Book Spot, run by a Muslim woman from Iceland – run like a work of art, I must say – I saw another book promising to give me health tips based on my ‘type.’ I could feel my flesh crawling. You mean mesomorph and so forth? I didn’t look. However, the idea that I fit into a type has always made me want to raise my fists. Can we be individuals? Can we? Is it possible to wrestle with the angel of health, so to speak, and come up with our own best practices, the ones that suit our spirits, our temperaments, our bodies, and, perhaps, other aspects of our being that we are still trying to find words for?