The workshop went passably yesterday. Consensus was "It'll be great when it's done, but it ain't done yet." Which wasn't really what I wanted to hear, but of course they're right.
Coming up on a month without mammal consumption. What started as a knee-jerk health scare has become more of a philosophical stance. The best explanation I can give is that I've done it simply because a stance needed to be taken; I feel very remote from my pre-Iowa life in many ways and my life needed another delineating factor. Ergo, I delineated it. Part of it is health, of course; and part of it is a feel-good respect-for-life deal, concern with the inconsistency in eating pigs but keeping cats as pets, etc.; but more immediately, I just felt the need for additional stricture. Life without limits is pointless, precisely because those limits serve as reference points, and in choosing one's own limits one does that Nietzsche / Schopenhauer assertion-of-the-will thing, which the existentialists later took up. The key is to take it on gladly; freedom through control. Cf. Eliot on Damyata (Sanskrit: control):
Damyata: The boat responded
Gaily, to the hand expert with sail and oar
The sea was calm, your heart would have responded
Gaily, when invited, beating obedient
To controlling hands
Or Camus quoting Nietzsche:
It clearly seems that the chief thing in heaven and on earth is to obey at length and in a single direction: in the long run there results something for which it is worth the trouble of living on this earth as, for example, virtue, art, music, the dance, the reason, the mind - something that transfigures, something delicate, mad, or divine.
Or David Foster Wallace, from his intellectually recursive novella "Westward the Course of Empire Takes Its Way":
That what unlocks you, even today, is what you want to want. In what you value. And what you value's married to those certain things you just won't do. And here's a cliché that's earned its status as a cliché: whether you're free or locked up depends, all and only, on what you want. What you have matters about as much as the color of your sky. Or your bars.
This is all a little grandiose, I know, for a dietary modification project. But I am quite serious about this shit. It stands in for the deeper stuff.
The other thing I've been heavily reading recently is Buddhist scripture. By and large, it's frankly shocking how much sense it makes. There's a lot to be said for a religion without dogma. Which probably means it's not a religion, precisely; more like a set of practical precepts for managing one's internal weather.
I'm 22. I'm working on this.