Proof of Life, An Exploration in Gluttony
I decided to join in on Katy’s competition involving the Seven Deadly Sins, or as we Buddhists prefer to call them: the seven human hindrances. Check out this link to find out all about it.
The basic scoop is that anyone can enter a 0-600 word submission about the sin/hindrance/flavor Katy selects. I always find the 0-word submissions the easiest to write; 600 word essays aren’t so easy for me because I tend to get windy (in more ways than one these days). A panel of judges will narrow down the submissions to their top five (5) picks; then Katy will post the five for the general blogging community to vote. It’s kind of like the Republican Primary only way more interesting. And just like the GOP Primaries, you’ll have to stay tuned to know when the next debate or vote is coming up. By the end of this process, though, I bet you won’t be nearly as sick and tired of the process or disappointed with the outcome.
The first of the sins/hindrances is Gluttony. Here’s my submission for your reading
Proof of Life
Her problem was that she felt empty and everyone around her seemed full. She wanted to be filled with what everyone else had—the stuff that made them real, solid, visible. If she didn’t find a way to become solid, she was convinced she would evaporate into thin air.
And so she began collecting the evidence that would, when examined by anyone who cared to notice—and everyone would certainly notice her once she was done—provide proof of life. Her life. Her full life.
She began by collecting personalities. For every occasion, she had the perfect persona to fit in. None of them fit her, but that didn’t matter. What mattered is what those around her thought. Sex-pot, naïve little girl, perfectionist, klutz, intellectual star, joker, and compassionate helper: she was all of these people. Her closet was full of costumes for any situation. But she felt like a mannequin—the costumes were what people responded to, not her.
Still feeling empty, she began hoarding comfort. Solace, she found, came in a wide variety of packages. At first, she tried food and filled her mouth and belly with an odd assortment of indulgences. She chewed Double Bubble bubble gum only until the sugar was gone then inserted another piece. Her collection of tiny cartoon wrappers was a marvel to see. Wintergreen mints that were pink—she named them “Pink Things”—were another of her favorite splurges. She could effortlessly consume a bag a day. A large box of Fiddle Faddle was, to her, a single-serving size.
The comfort of sugar was, she found, short-lived, except around the belly. She abandoned sweets for alcohol, which could also be sweet both in taste and consequence. Alcohol was very comforting, indeed. She found herself wrapped in the warm and woozy world that one drink could never evoke, but many drinks always did. In that world where her blood was full of alcohol and her brain was empty of memory or inhibition, she could animate the mannequin in the costume and she felt full. Until the next day. But there was always another bottle of alcohol to unlock the key to that world, so she collected bottles of alcohol and emptied them along with herself.
The attention of men was another source of comfort for her. When she wanted, she could be sexy; but she rarely wanted to be sexy. Alcohol made her feel sexy, so alcohol had the added benefit of helping her to collect men. She wasn’t a slut or indiscriminate when drunk, but she was more willing to make love to her boyfriend or to the nice guy she met at the bar. She always made love; she never just had sex. Collecting trophies didn’t make her comfortable. Collecting men who adored her did.
Like lying on a hammock, things that are comfortable when young and supple start to hurt as age takes its toll. While she was busy collecting personalities and things to make her comfortable in a skin that she never felt she occupied, she began to ache. Her life of hoarding, of gluttony, had not fulfilled her. She felt more vacant, more vaporous, than when she began this quest. Something had to change. But what?
She felt no inner resources upon which to draw—there was nothing inside her empty shell. Yet she built a whole life around it. How did she do that?
Perhaps there was something inside of her all along. Perhaps her emptiness was perfect and she was blinded by the fallacy of fullness.
My question to you is this: who do you “she” is? As the series evolves, “she” will be the main character facing each sin/hindrance. At the end, if you haven’t guessed, I’ll reveal her identity (whether she wants me to or not)…
Go to Katy’s blog to read other amazing Gluttony submissions. (Well, that kind of assumed you thought my submission was “amazing.” A bit presumptuous on my part, me thinks.)