I’ve realised this week that I have become a weekday vegetarian.
I only know this because on Wednesday nobody felt like cooking and the children decided to get take-out from Nando’s.
“What do you want?” my son asks me as I’m flicking through the menu on my phone.
“Umm, I’ll have the Beanie Burger”
My son narrows his eyes but, to his credit, doesn’t question it.
My daughter does.
“Why are you having a bean burger?”
“Because I’m a weekday vegetarian. Also, I’ve never had a bean burger.”
I probably have had a bean burger, but not a memorable one, like those I imagine vegetarians have.
Nevertheless, I was pleased to hear from myself that I was inching closer towards vegetarianism but, like most things I have welcomed into my life, it has come about seemingly without my knowledge.
It’s almost as if letting go of things can result in them becoming more readily available.
Rather than being a consequence of deliberate action, it seems that progress can also be made by inaction.
Neurologist and author Oliver Sacks used to have a sign above his desk that simply said, “No” to remind him not to accept social invitations and instead be available to devote more time to his writing.
I’m no Oliver Sacks, but I am good at saying “No” to social invitations and I don’t even need a sign.
There must be a reason for it unless I’m simply anti-social, which can’t be discounted, especially after a recent conversation with my daughter who was telling me that the Big Five personality traits are more measurable in dogs than in humans.
“So if dogs are like their owners, I’d mirror Daisy, right? I say.
“I guess so.”
We decide that Daisy is extremely introverted, only agreeable once she gets to really know you, quite neurotic, not very open, and conscientious, but only if something she really wants is at the end of the grind. For her, it’s mostly “gravy bones”.
“We may as well have been describing me,” I say to my daughter who is already way ahead as if she’d always been aware of the striking similarity.
“You’re less interested in “Gravy Bones”, she says, plugging in her headphones.
Poet Thom Gunn, a great friend of Oliver Sacks, lived a frugal life for much of his career. He didn’t earn much money but was sanguine about it pointing out that he “preferred leisure to full-time working”
Amen to that.
When the food arrives we’re in the garden sitting around the fire pit with the smoke blowing in my face wherever I decide to sit.
I eat my bean burger with gusto and enjoy it more than I could have imagined until, in my enthusiasm, I bite the inside of my mouth painfully.
My daughter asks,
“Is that because you’re getting old and your mouth is getting wrinkled and saggy?”
“Probably,” I say, stuffing a few chips in, which feel all the more righteous without chicken, and feeling grateful that getting wrinkles is another thing I don’t much care about.
“I won’t get any wrinkles because I put SPF50 on my face every day,” says my daughter.
“No, you’ll get rickets,” my son replies.
There is a wren singing in the apple tree next door, the dog is lying in wait for any scraps and I wonder, through the smoke, what else I might achieve by letting go.