My rules of engagement

Bryce Canyon, Utah, July 2018

In July of 2018, I got engaged. Six months earlier, this was not a possibility.

I wasn’t ready for marriage for a long time. But it was hard to articulate why not. I finally decided on three things that would make me ready.

  1. We must tell each other our deepest, darkest secrets. Have trust and openness through vulnerability. Trust is the bedrock of a good relationship. If you cannot tell your spouse your deepest secrets and thoughts, who can you tell? To truly become one, you must fuse all that you have: strengths and weaknesses. If we hold back, this could cause trust issues in the future.
  2. Earn independence from others around us, even family. We must operate on our own and choose to be us, wherever we go. We must be able to be a distinct unit. We must make our own decisions as full adults rather than relying too much on family ties. Often, an over-emphasis on outside forces rather than the relationship can sow discontent. Love for family comes from choice, not from obligation.
  3. Finances go into one shared bucket: not two, but one. What affects one of us affects both of us. We must be able to talk about money and value before getting married. That way, we get those ideas out in the open. Finances cause most of divorces, so why don’t we talk about these ideas first before we make that commitment.

In reality, we made the goals concrete by writing them down. Then we accomplished them together. She was especially excited to tackle tasks that were concrete. Before, we were floating along with no direction, not knowing if we were getting closer to commitment or further.

After accomplishing the tasks, I stood by my word. I could think of no other reason to delay marriage other than my own fear of the unknown and the change that would be required to adapt to it. But change can be good.

I did more than resolve the reasons why I did not want to get married. In fact, I learned reasons why I wanted to: gains beyond one person could ever achieve:

  • Self knowledge and self-improvement
  • Touched by the divine, following our ancestors’ path
  • Paying respects to our ancestors
  • Following in the ancestors’ path by tying ourselves to another
  • Love beyond passion: the love that stays when lust is gone

So, we jumped in. Here’s to one year and many more to come.

Intermittent Fasting and One Big Lesson


Photo by Lachlan Gowen on Unsplash

In the second month of 2018, I spent a month practicing intermittent fasting (IF) during weekdays. I fasted through breakfast. I only drank water and coffee (black) until about 12 pm for lunch.

There’s a lot of research and commentary on IF. Some say it has benefits to mind, body, and spirit. For example, apparently, the most effective cell reproduction takes place after 12 to 16 hours without food. Others are skeptical. I decided to try it for one month.

At first, it was hard to say “no” to my aching stomach. But with disciplined practice, I separated myself from my hunger. I still felt the aches of hunger. But I simply ignored it as best I could. I focused on higher objectives: fasting till 12 pm. Athletes feel pain as we do when training, but they can look past it.

As a result, I lost 6 pounds in a month. I gained energy while eating fewer calories. I ate fewer calories in two large meals than if I had eaten breakfast, lunch, and dinner. My mood, which usually wavered throughout the day, stayed consistently calm while I was fasting.

The process of living through IF further reinforced in me that I could tweak my habits to improve my well-being.

I learned many things in that month. I internalized one.

1. Place trust in an external structure to guide you forward into the unknown to become better.

If we listened to our bodies, we would eat whenever we are hungry. Listening to this hunger was good when we were pre-agricultural animals who relied on bodily drives to motivate us to hunt, eat, and survive.

Now that many humans have an abundance of food, those of us who do must surpass our hunger habits to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Fasting as a structure of being is outside of ourselves because it goes against our bodily hunger. Similarly, saying “no” to dessert as a structure of being also goes beyond ourselves.

We can choose to trust in intermittent fasting. We should trust in such an external structure of being because we believe that we will benefit more by adhering to it rather than to the structure of being that is driven by our own desires. Specifically, if we fast, then we believe we can achieve something: weight loss, energy increase, mood stabilization. Anecdotally, I achieved these things. Maybe not everyone can; maybe I wouldn’t again. But believing in this external structure of intermittent fasting was good to me and seems good for many others.