Heat, KetoAdaptation; Reading
in which I compare myself to a fridge in hot weather
High heat is here. High, dry heat.
Elsewhere, gardeners favor raised beds. Here, contrariwise, we sink them. Cooler, shadier, hold moisture better. I take sacks with me into the river wash and bring home plant debris, horse poop, bat poop, as mulch that is also shade.
What's alive so easily parches to death; what's already dead doesn't compost because it's just too dry. I love heat, but when it's so high above my body temperature, it makes me wonder if there is after all a "too hot."
Hot, hot and dry, but my feet and ankles are so swollen I can barely put my sandals on. I like this not at all. Water is stuck and not going where it needs to go. "Solstice" means "sun stands still"--summer solstice, this Sunday, will be the point at which the days have gotten as long as they will get; henceforth they dwindle. Water standing still under standing fire.
But the day after the summer solstice will be just as long as the day before the summer solstice. Nonetheless, many people mourn summer solstice as if it's the beginning of winter, love every lengthening day up to that point.
Sun-stand-still is like the eye of a storm, the hub of a wheel, the turning point--a quiet, still point or moment amidst activity and energy. The most rapid increase and decrease in day length happens in the days closest to the summer and winter solstices.
Pause for a public service announcement: A Sufi friend of mine, and a friend I haven't yet met, and I are reading our poems and essays downtown TOMORROW NIGHT at Casa Libre en la Solana
It would be lovely to see/meet people there.
Other than my feet and ankles, the character of this time is so fluid. An odd epithet to apply to such a dry season, but it's the truth. That electric shock when I get out of the car and touch something metal? That only happens in the hot, dry season; when the monsoons arrive in early July, no more shocks. And those shocks happen because the electric charge between butt and seat and car builds up so much more readily. Static electricity seems dry and brittle, but it can come about because of fluid electrons.
And then there's the fridge. You'd think that now that it's really hot, the inside of the fridge and freezer would feel contrastingly really cold. But actually what impresses me more is that their contents are less cold now than before it was so hot. I always think of the fridge as sealed off from the world. But this goes to show that some of the abundant outside heat seeps in.
"As you do one thing, so you do everything," and so, of course, I seek the metaphor in that fact. When the external environment gets too far opposite to the steady cool of the fridge, even a good fridge with a tight seal and efficient coolant will start to take on some of the opposite quality, the warming. In fact, the warmth the frige puts out to keep itself cool contributes to the ambient heat in my hot little kitchen (easily 80+ degrees in there in the daytime).
So, if I'm trying to move in a certain direction, I do practices to build my boundaries and maintain my inner terrain in a way conducive to that direction, and I throw out, release, exhale the parts that aren't congruent to it. But if I put myself in an environment totally opposed to what I'm working toward, even if my boundaries are good, I'm going to start to take on some of the opposite.
No hanging out in nightclubs for me! (Anyone who knows me is laughing out loud.) But I'm also becoming aware of habits like gossiping, complaining, cursing, and I'm recognizing that I need to keep my refrigerator self out of that sort of overheated kitchen and not hang around those kinds of conversation.
Changing environment also needs adaptation. Environment can be both inner and outer. I'm 42 days into adapting to full-on ketosis, which is proving tremendously helpful for my gut issues and has completely obliterated the manic-depressive binge-purge episodes. There's some evidence that it helps with mood/neurological issues like bipolar, and even around the solstice, a difficult time for me always, I'm doing better than the last few years even with struggles.
Ironically, because carbohydrate and its metabolism and byproducts hold water, ketosis is normally associated with release of retained water. And here I am with the swollen ankles, contrary again. But like everyone else, I have a unique set of circumstances and challenges. In the context of adapting to a style of nutrition, 42 days is not a long time (even though I'd been doing it off and mostly on for nine months prior to this). And other things have changed in addition to the diet, and there's likely still residual imbalance from all the fasting I did that knocked things out of kilter.
When do you throw up your hands and say "it isn't working"? What constitutes a fair trial? How do you evaluate pros and cons? (If I'm experiencing ten great benefits but occasionally get swollen ankles, does that one negative cancel all the positives?)
We are adaptable, and I'm adapting. And when I push potential depression up into the manic range by not sleeping, by abusing caffeine, by neglecting other self care, by experimenting with too many different potent herbs simultaneously, those behaviors likely have far more influence on the ankles than a clean, easily digestible, completely binge-purge-free style of nutrition.
I say all this because people are so apt to blame "the diet," especially if it seems extreme to what they've experienced. If someone's trying a new diet but shooting up at the same time, don't blame the diet for perceived failure!
I hesitate to write about this because of how people have reacted to me writing about diet in the past, but since this is something I think about all the time, I'm writing about it here.