1. Eating myself stupid
This couple of weeks off for the holiday season probably didn’t do any good to me. I took a break from my image making and writing so that I could freely enjoy the time being with friends and family, without the stress of rushing home after work (note I have been working for a client on-site three days a week during the holiday season) to commit to my ‘A Photo/Sculpture A Day’ mission before the festive activities.
I also wanted to give my brain a break and simply being neutral – neutral as emotionless, motionless, dreamless, thoughtless, meditative, and hopefully reinvigorate myself for the new year.
To pursue that neutrality, I ended up eating myself stupid.
When one night I came home late with a full stomach of half-digested crispy chicken burger from lunch, fresh oysters and sashimi, deep fried school prawns, some exotic fish sitting on a bed of oriental produce and sauce and a few Bloody Marys, I started to panic and doubt myself because of the excessive consumption of food and beverage. Note the night before I was invited to a luscious Chinese banquet, of which lobsters were eaten in two different ways and abalones were stewed with other delicacies to show the generosity and wealth of the host.
From the corner of my eyes, I peeked at the four books I had been reading since November. They were already covered in a thin layer of dust, getting jealous of the new, black-and-gold, exquisite hard cover A Bone Of Fact by David Walsh I received as a Christmas present from Anett. I only read a few pages but put it next to my pillow to show Anett how much I loved my present.
Forget the intellectual emptiness, I only cared about my waist so I went straight to sit on the toilet. I have to release some so I can eat more.
Often though, when I sat on the toilet, I questioned myself when was I going to get back to being productive and stop eating this much. ‘When everyone else does. Don’t worry. You will get back when the time is right. Now enjoy the nothingness and learn to live without your work’, my ‘Zen’ self answered. So I kept on eating, uninspired, unstimulated, emotionlessly.
2. Over-eating kills the soul
One thing I felt contradictory though, was that if nothingness was the ultimate happiness of life, why did I feel something was missing? Or rather than nothingness, I was perhaps in the state of emptiness. As a result, I ate more. On our New Year’s Eve dinner, I stuffed myself with my favourite prawn and crab dumplings, orange-cinnamon infused deep fried duck, ginger panna cotta and chocolate mousse. Champagne, white wine, red wine and champagne again. Our night was topped with the magnificent Sydney harbour fireworks from our windows. I toasted to another world-class start of the year with Anett and friends, drinking more champagne to wash down the grease and cream I had been overly consuming in the past two weeks.
The over-eating soul was awakened at last after we watched the film Youth on New Year’s Day. Of course, before the cinema we already fulfilled our stomachs with more Chinese dumplings, BBQ pork rice noodle rolls, roast chicken croquettes and Bloody Marys. Before the cinema we didn’t know what the film was about. We wanted to watch it because we wanted to have the cinema’s homemade vanilla ice cream choc-tops.
3. Emotions are all we’ve got
You say that emotions are overrated. But that’s bullshit. Emotions are all we’ve got.
– Mick told Fred, Youth, Paolo Sorrentino
At the end of the film when the orchestra performed the retired composer (Michael Caine)’s song, which he wrote to his wife ‘when he loved’ but had been refusing to conduct it because he wasn’t emotional anymore, our emotions burst as the singer’s soulful voice raised. I had to close my eyes and let my tears flood out quietly. Anett was whimpering. On such a special day, almost everyone in the cinema room was weeping at the same time. I didn’t know for what reasons were we all crying, but I guess it must be the excessive food intake at this time of the year everyone experienced. The more she sang, the more our stomachs and intestines were shaken, the more our souls were touched and awakened.
I won’t detail or comment on the film as its beauty and power is too much beyond words. There are layers and layers of meanings and metaphors about life, people, passion and wisdom. One thing that I could not get out of my mind was the scene when Mick the renowned filmmaker (Harvey Keitel) talked to the young screenplay writer on the mountain. Mick asked the young writer to look through a telescope, said to her, ‘when you are young, everything is close.’ In front of her was a beautiful, challenging Swiss mountain. He then turned the lens to her eyes and said, ‘But when you are old, everything is far away.’ On the screen, there were her young friends through a pinhole. They were right in front of her but they looked miles away. The past that has long gone is the memory of people in our life.
I was moved by the film’s philosophy but I also marveled at its humour and imagination. I thought, what a fulfillment for Sorrentino to create such a wonderful story, yet I looked at myself, only an hour ago I was munching my choc-top and letting that muddy sweetness coat and froze my soul. Where have I been? The more I think about it, the more the ignorance of emotions the film first depicted echoed in my heart, the more the frustration, the feelings and the desire that soulful voice revealed and healed. The film touched people in a very personal level, no wonder the whole room was immersed in tears.
After the film I felt my break was finally complete and I was ready to continue the Mundane Matters journey in 2016. Anett says the first day of the year is very important as it is a projection for the whole year. In that case I am for sure breathing into another spiritually fulfilling year. Oh and to finish the inspiring first day of the year, we perfected it with a roll of fresh cinnamon kurtosh on our way home. We are back on eating healthy now.
If you are in the same situation as me, I highly recommend you watch Youth. Sometimes a good cry can be an effective colon cleanser. All the best to you in 2016.
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