chasing 50 miles

Oh the blisters and the chafing. What a few months it’s been away from being away from this blog. As much as the desire has been there, the itch to write has just been absent. Reviewing films and albums grew stale, and to be honest I’ve grown tired of being judgmental. There comes a point when you have to ask yourself of whether calling art “good” and “bad” is rather dull and cheerless. How can any mature adult teach love when so much criticism is anchored in their ego? To be a critic is just not the life for me.

And then there’s the issue of my work life. I took up an internship with the Ohio Democratic Party for this campaign cycle and have spent most of my days making phone calls and knocking on doors. Yes, I support Hillary Clinton, and no, I don’t care that you think she is a war criminal. I don’t call myself a Democrat nor a Republican but I’ll always choose a party that favors progress over economics any day. At least until the Libertarian Party can get its shit together.

Oh yeah, during this time I also found spiritualism. It’s hard to swallow as a self-described atheist, but events in my life have slowly steered me toward an acceptance of a divine power in my life. Being raised in a Judeo-Christian society, I use the term God to describe this power, and while my definition of that term may differ from someone else’s, I have chosen to rely on that language to come across to fellow Westerners. I’ll save my conversion towards God for another post, but suffice it to say that my life has begun a new transformation with the assistance of a presence I didn’t want.

This really started six years ago, when I first started hearing voices and having hallucinations. I was in school to be a teacher, on the cusp of graduation, and had a breakdown in the middle of a classroom. For years after I cursed my health and luck, settling to accept my fate as a loser and a bum. And yet the voices still came, and more torment. I tried my luck at nursing, a cushy job in a factory, even ran my own business. But the truth was all these endeavors were meant to fail.

Two months ago the voice told me to quit my business and sell my car. I fought over the issue. No way in hell was I giving up my only source of income outside of disability. The voice persisted, and as usual I caved in. I thought it was another manic episode, another failure. Tears followed.

But something changed this time. There was no worry in my mind. The voice was reassuring. And then miracles followed. You might scoff at the word “miracles”, as if I was out of my mind. And yet that was what happened. Predictions came true. Information I could have never have known was given to me. This is all vague, but it was enough to change my mind. Maybe God was with me.

It’s funny. For three years the voice had been telling me to stop drinking pop. For years I had been a diet pop guzzler. I’d wager I drank about a 2 liter every day. All that money and desecrated taste buds wasted on aspartame and carbon. I thought it was impossible. There was no way I could ever quit the addiction. And then back in October of 2015 it happened. One day I stopped drinking diet pop. I didn’t try. I didn’t struggle. I just stopped.

I thought nothing of it. My will had eventually won. And yet my addiction was still there. I started drinking those Monster Energy Zero calorie drinks. Man they were good. 3 bucks a pop and at least 2 a day, I had rid myself of my diet pop addiction only to swap it for my Monster addiction. How I craved the sweetness and carbonation, my tongue so addicted to that faux sugary taste that I couldn’t go a few hours without it.

This went on for months, and eventually I had conceded that I would never stop drinking the damn things. But the voice persisted, and in May of 2016 I one day stopped drinking
Monsters. No struggle, no trying. It just happened. My will had won again.

But then I started drinking regular Coca Cola. I told myself that this was natural. At least this was a natural ingredient like sugar, and not aspartame. And how it tasted so good. Compared with aspartame and Diet Dr. Pepper, Coca Cola tastes almost bitter. I attempted to break my habit for a couple of weeks, but the cravings for the sugar water was strong. But then voice came, and told me I would stop drinking the filth. And sure as shit, when my last twelve pack ran out, the cravings were gone. And so the will had won again.

My new love was carbonated water, and it would be a short romance. I drank the stuff for two weeks before the voice came and told me I would stop drinking the fizzled water, and sure as shit, without struggle or trying, one day I stopped drinking it. It was at this point that I told myself I had no will anymore. I had tried for years to quit pop, and every time I struggled and failed. This wasn’t ordinary. This wasn’t endeavor. This was a miracle.

You might think this silly. But the voice then told me I would stop craving food. Now I was convinced I was mad. For most of my adult life I have been obese. My heaviest was 250 lbs, my lightest 153. For years I’ve yo-yoed, dropping 80 lbs, gaining 40, losing 60. Check out my facebook and you’ll think I have more disguises than Lady Gaga. After years of using my will power and fighting, I had finally gained a six pack only to put on a spare tire. I accepted my fate as being fat, embraced it really, and told myself I wouldn’t give a shit anymore about what I looked like.

But something happened. The moment I quit diet pop I told myself I would become a vegetarian. The idea wasn’t hard, and giving up meat isn’t nearly as bad as it sounds. I like tofu and I like vegetables, and so I became a vegetarian. But the voice came and pushed me farther. It told me I would become a vegan, and that I wouldn’t crave sweets anymore.

A month went by. I had a manic episode and a trip to the emergency room. I thought my bad luck was continuing, that I would never find peace in my life. But then one morning the voice came and told me to step on the scale. I was hesitant. The last time I had weighed myself I was at a crushing 244 lbs. I had decided I would never look again. But as par the course, the voice won out, and to my surprise, I weighed 235. In one week I had lost 9 pounds. I wasn’t even on a diet. Wasn’t even trying. The weight was gone. A miracle.

I settled into this weight until May. I kept eating as usual, having my favorite snacks and sweets. But I had dropped to 232, and better was maintaining. This was unbelievable. But then the voice came, and told me to keep a food diary. And predicted I would stop craving food.

That was in the middle of this month, and as of today, July 2 2016, I now way 224. No trying, no effort. I just stopped eating. You might say I’m on a diet and of course I’m losing weight. That is no miracle. But this is different. I’ve dieted before. I know what it takes to will my self to lose 80 lbs. And I’ll tell you right now, I was hungry the whole time. All I did was think about food. Dream about it. My head would scream for a donut. I’d spend nights lying awake listening to the rumbles in my belly calling out for meat. I’d lose the weight, and then slam it back on thru Wendy’s double cheeseburgers.

And yet I don’t hunger this time. I go a whole day on 1300 calories, even down to 1000, and feel satiated. I haven’t eaten dairy in two days. I’ve gone a whole week without a donut or cookie. There’s no cravings. No desire. Sometimes I feel confused. I’ve never not wanted to eat something. And now I’m losing on average a pound a day. Just this week alone I’ve lost 5.5 pounds in six days. How can I call this a diet when I haven’t changed anything? I haven’t used my will power. I don’t struggle. When I do hunger I eat. I don’t withhold anything from myself. I don’t fear food. I don’t run from it. I just stopped eating.

I’m not here to make you a believer, to convert you to religion, to undo your atheism. The truth is I don’t care what you believe. No theology has it right nor wrong. I can only recount what has happened and what is happening to me. And I am convinced, that God, or spirit, or love has taken hold of me. And I no longer hunger. And so it is.

Having found this spirit within, I feel invincible. I keep waiting for the other foot to drop, the crushing blow to this miracle to come. I’ve been through this before. The moments of peace and clarity, a guiding voice in my head steering me to new heights only to go mad and end up in a psych ward. And yet this is different. I can’t tell you why or convince you it’s not. I can only attest to what my heart tells me. I don’t fight this time. I just accept.

And so I’ve set out on a new path. As of the moment I live with my mom, and the sad truth is that the house we’re living in is going to be evicted in 5 months and I’ll be homeless. I could go live with my father again, and yet I know this won’t happen. There’s no love in the house and the truth is I don’t belong. And so I’ve set my heart on the east, a voice telling me that I must go to New York City. I have no idea how, nor when, but only the truth that in two years I will be living there.

I tell myself this won’t happen. I’ll cave in, move in with family. The voice differs. I’m not sure how it will play out, but as I’m slowly accepting, the voice generally is correct.

I started walking during this time. My whole life I loved walking, going on long trips with no destination in mind. It’s been the only constant throughout my years, more so than reading. The longest walk I ever made was 30 miles, when I spent twelve miles walking from Toledo, Ohio up to Petersburg, Michigan and back. Of course, I’m not counting the time I walked for three days without eating and sleeping in New York City. That was an act of God if there was ever one but I’ll save that story for another post.

Convinced I might move to Ann Arbor for a while, I decided I would attempt to walk up there from Toledo. It’s a 50 mile trip, 17 hours of walking if I average 3 miles per hour. Add in in breaks and rests and I wager it will be about 20-24 hours to do so. I have no idea if I’ll succeed. But I know I can do it.

In preparation I’ve amped my mileage. Before I made up my mind on my journey, I averaged six miles a day. As fat as I have been, I have always been active. This week I boosted it up to 15 miles a day. Since yesterday I’ve been moving with a slight limp, though I’m not in pain. I’ve told myself I’ll never struggle again. I firmly believe God will take care of me, and God has told me that I will complete this journey. I have no fears.

By Monday I want to make a 30 mile walk. I know I’ll succeed because I’ve made the trip twice in my life. I walk from my house in East Toledo out to Maumee Bay in Oregon, Ohio. It’s my favorite walk I like to take, only done twice, but both time immensely rewarding. The first time was in the seventh grade, and I still can’t believe my mother didn’t care where I was going. The last time was three years ago. I look forward to going again in moments of peace.

And so my new journey begins. I don’t know where I’ll live, nor what I’ll eat. But I am not quite convinced the universe will take care of me. I don’t hunger. I don’t feel pain. And for a self described worry wart, I feel no fear. Some call this salvation. There’s plenty of stories throughout history of man attesting to the power of finding divinity. If this had been four months ago I would have scoffed as the idea. And yet here I write this, 20 lbs lighter, well aware that I am no longer alone in this world. God is with me, and I welcome him/her/it. You may think I’m crazy. May the light that has entered my realm shine just as brightly in yours.

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About Michael Medlen

My name is Michael and during my free time I avoid having a day job. Strangely enough, this gives me the freedom to run this blog. I write just about anything that can be considered art. I also occasionally post articles that may or may not be relevant to the theme of this site. You’ve been warned.
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