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On dieting, quitting smoking, mindfulness, music.

My wife started talking about this book. It’s a diet book. One of her friends lost 20 pounds, is still losing, feels so much better, and all of that. The next thing I know the book is in our house, my wife is reading it, and I have agreed to accompany my wife on this journey. She looks amazing just as she is. I, on the other hand, look not unlike an overstuffed body pillow.

So this is my field report from Day 2 of the Cleanse. This is a 21-day period where you cut out everything but a few vegetables, and start adding things to your diet. I don’t want to explain the whole thing. I’m sure you are not here for diet tips.

The point is that this feels not unlike quitting smoking, which I did just a year ago. I had no idea how much I would eat (and previously, smoke) just to make the day pass. Just another way to distract myself from what is happening right here, right now.

On day 2 of the siege, time seems to be stretching out. The days seem last for-ev-er. Every moment I’m conscious of my body, my hands, my breath. This really forces me to be present in the here and now. I am a raw nerve. I was the same way after having my last cigarette. When I think about all of the hours stretching out in front of me without chocolate chip cookies, it seems nearly unbearable. O Death, come quickly.

Oddly enough for someone who strives for mindfulness and practices meditation daily, it’s not awesome.

When I quit smoking, I felt like I was saying goodbye to a part of my own identity. Smoking was much more than an addiction to nicotine. It was a worldview, a statement I made about the futility of life in general, and of my life in particular.

It was also a companion, one with a voice of the reassuring familiarity. In a way every cigarette-moment was connected to every other cigarette-moment in a web that connected the meaningful and dark parts of my adult life. The pain of divorce, of death and of heartbreak. The quiet rebellion I mounted every night at the keyboards. The good conversations with cheap wine. The beautiful futility of all of it. Each fleeting beautiful moment was connected like a network of nerves through time, and each came to visit with me as I slowly corroded my lungs and poisoned my body.

I pulled that nervous system out of my life like grabbing hold of a thick weed. The top was easy. The roots were harder, and some still lurk underground. The soil was dislodged, and there’s a hole left.

But that hole had always been there. It’s a fundamental human quality. I think we all have this emptiness that we try to fill with different things. We try to fill it with work, with children, with a clean house, with alcohol, thoughts, cigarettes, drugs, worries, religion, adrenaline, sex, exercise, art, whatever.

I am now trying to learn to let the hole remain as is. This is getting my fingers down into the actual texture of life. This is how the moments feel, with nothing to cover and disguise them. This is the fine-grained feeling of seconds passing.

How to capture that in music?

Sanctuary Christmas on schedule!

The album is coming along! I’m on schedule for November delivery. I just finished the recording for Carol of the Bells, and it’s lovely. I worked in a counter-melody that gives the carol a contemplative feel. The other pieces are arranged, but need to be have final recordings done.

I’ll be putting up a preview of the album at the beginning of November.

Live Performance Update – You’re Invited!

On Sunday, November 13 I’ll be hosting a short live performance from my studio in Naples. I would love it if you would tune in. I’ll provide more details as the date gets closer.

Did you get your free tracks?

Hopefully you got your link to download the free tracks – I hope you enjoy them. If you had any trouble downloading or playing the tracks, just shoot me an email – I will do whatever I can to help.

Thanks, as always, for being part of my musical family.

Much love,

Philip

4 thoughts on “On dieting, quitting smoking, mindfulness, music.

  1. Philip Allen, your words make me laugh, cry and want to hug you. What a beautiful statement on life. After all this time, you still amaze me. <3

    1. Thank you, Love.

  2. Beautifully said

    1. Thanks, Mom. <3

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