Doing the best we can.
Well Vegan Radio listeners, I'm here to talk a little bit about being perfect. This is something I know EVERYTHING about, being perfect and all. (note sarcasm) I have been around the vegan scene for a few years now and I fall more in love with the people I surround myself with as days go on. The acceptance of each other for who we are and the expectations placed on each other are so much friendlier than that of my other social scene experiences. I am not sure if anyone else reading this is tired of the question, "What do you do?"
I do SO MANY THINGS. And you really don't care about most of them, you want to know what I do for money? Is that the question? What do I do for money? I'm sorry but that is just about the WORST way to get to know someone in the history of the world. I frequently, upon meeting someone, will instantly knock this question down with the answer, "I do lots of things," and see what happens from there. Do they then admit that they were just wondering what my income sources was? Or are they intrigued by my vague answer and ask further questions about the many facets of my day to day life. This scenario usually changes based on my surrounding. If I'm at a bar or event (besides Vegan Drinks) and get cornered into this situation then I quickly try to end the conversation and move on to the next possible interaction and HOPE for something different... usually to my dismay. Now, if I'm at something related to a cause, such as animal rights, I will often be given a chance to explain. Free thinkers, encouraging free thinking... imagine that.
So now what is the answer? What DO I do? I do the best I can. That is the most basic, short answer I can possibly give to this question. I do the things in life that make sense, and I'm just trying to do them as best as I possibly can. Now what does that mean? I'm human, hmm, go figure. So then how do I tell people about how many great awesome things I do in my life without sounding like I am are bragging. I can go on about veganism (for days) and the work I do for animals. I can go on about involvement with the local food co-op to bring bulk organic healthy vegetarian whole foods to NYC (I lament that they sell cheese and eggs). I can tell them about the beautiful music I make and share with the world. Or I can talk about my actual job, which I LOVE, because I work with children teaching them how to figure skate and use their bodies on ice.
So now I just feel like a jerk who likes to brag about myself. Guess what, I have flaws too. I do things that I'm not as proud of or completely thrilled about doing. But I do DO them, so why shouldn't I tell people about them. I intoxicate myself, sometimes too much. I eat too much naughty vegan food (I live in the east village of Manhattan, Lula's? C'mon). I know what is healthy and what isn't but do I care... no. I sometimes skip the gym and fall out of practice with yoga for weeks! I am TERRIBLE with money. I don't even make lots of it to spend, but when I have it, I just love to get rid of it (usually to any local purveyor of fine vegan treats). So it's just one bad habit feeding (literally) another. But, still in my defense (getting defensive in monologue is also a flaw) I am just doing the best I can so GET OFF MY BACK.
If I talk food justice or animal rights to a typical crowd there are a few common reactions, to which I have stock replies. It's like my life is that Bill Murray movie Groundhog Day only the people don't actually get it right.
1. I am told that my lifestyle is elitist and that not every person can make those choices based on their income and their location. My reply to this depends on my level of intoxication at this point but ideally I can keep it civil and remind people that what I chose to do isn't based on what is possible it is based on me thinking about my own life and making my own choices to put and not put certain things in my mouth. To sum it up, I'm just doing the best I can.
2. A typical response from a typical bar patron to a food conversation is nervous humor. Rather than engage in an actual possible conversation where they question the standards for food choices they choose to cut the topic with any crass remark about bacon. I don't want to hear about how much you like bacon. Ever. Because your own desire to eat for pleasure does not excuse the acts and we both know it. But by bringing up bacon you win over a crowd full of bacon lovers and leave me the odd woman out who does not eat bacon. Why is bacon-loving all of the sudden a cult? I must be the jerk for abstaining from torture for pleasure in regards to my food choices. Once again, I'm just doing the best I can.
3. The awe inspired response is my least favorite of them all. The sympathizer who puts you on a pedestal and tells you how much they wish they could do it too. Well since I'm obviously a super hero enriched with powers that are beyond your understanding it is unfortunate that you could not also make the decision of what to pick up and put into your mouth like I do. I had tried for a long time to talk to these people seriously and tell them that they could, but I've unfortuantely resorted to the sarcastic stock answer because I've ended friendships over trying to offer support on how to actually become a super hero like me. Say it with me, I'm just doing the best I can.
4. My favorite response oddly enough is the blatent defense to my very existance. Some people are actually offended at the thought that animals are intelligent and sentient like humans and have needs, desires, complex emotions, and personalities. This person is my favorite because they make me feel more necessary to the world. When someone is so troubled by my ideals I am reminded that it is a symptom of an ignorant life to reject those who think differently than you. And while I enjoy a good discussion with people who I don't see eye to eye with I don't engage with these people. I just let this kind of responder speak their nonsense and calmly tell them in between each rant that I don't agree. Last time, I promise, I'm just doing the best I can.
If any of you have missed my point, and don't understand my rantings, let me recap. I'm not perfect, you are not perfect. I want to be a good example, and live as happy and balanced as I can. I don't think I'm changing the world every dramatically day to day, but if we all work together a little more over time I believe we can be a small part of the future. If I am at a social function and I begin to talk about all the things I am proud of in my life I am not bragging. You asked what I do, and that is what I do. It's the best I can.
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